Punahou band perseveres in cold
POSTED: Wednesday, January 21, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. » Brent Nagamine thought he reached the pinnacle of his band career two years ago in the Rose Parade.
The senior horn sergeant topped that feat yesterday when the Punahou School Marching Band performed in President Obama's inauguration parade.
"We've been preparing for this event for so long that finally marching was really gratifying," Nagamine said. "It was quite an honor to march for the president.
"This is the last marching band activity that I'll ever do. It was exciting to finish my marching band career this way. This experience has been much more meaningful."
Band members marched 2.5 miles and braved frigid temperatures to help the president celebrate his inauguration.
They were rewarded with shakas from the Obamas when the band performed in front of the presidential reviewing stand.
The acknowledgment from the first family made earlier struggles with frozen instruments and chilly temperatures worth it.
"They felt a real bond to it (the shakas)," said Punahou band director Alec Briguglio. "It was special that they had a bond. They felt like family.
"The kids were fantastic. They fought off the cold. No one went down. They really believed they could do it, and they did it."
Added sophomore drum major Calla Chang: "The parade was much easier than I expected. Some of the other groups had people dropping out. I'm really proud that none of us dropped out.
"It was pretty cool being that close to President Obama. ... We thought it was pretty cool to get some Hawaiian flavor on the mainland."
Music department head Darin Au believes the adversity faced during the first rehearsal strengthened performers for yesterday's two-hour wait in the cold.
"The performance overall was really good," Au said. "They're tough. They gutted it out. We had a few kids that were stretched and challenged, but they came through."
Many on the parade route at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue left after the Obamas rode by. Wailuku resident Alfred Cantorna took advantage to get a better look. Clad in a Hawaii Warriors hat and waving American and Hawaiian flags, Cantorna thought the wait was worth it.
"Because of the long lapses, I thought the parade was over," Cantorna said. "But when we heard the announcer, we jumped the barricade. They sounded pretty good. It's kinda neat hearing Obama's alma mater and Michelle's after."
Punahou was the first high school band to perform in the lineup. They were followed by Michelle Obama's alma mater, Whitney M. Young High School. The Buffanblu performed "Aloha 'Oe," "Man of Punahou" and Brahms' Symphony No. 1.