Sep 19

728 Cadets Show Theme “Invincible” Becomes Motivator for Hard Work and Success for Students

By Wyatt Martin, 728 Cadets Alumni

June 27, 2017 – The 728 Cadets Marching Band made up of students from Rogers, Elk River, and Zimmerman middle and high schools has thrived this season with head director Joe Jaeger’s creation of “Invincible.” The concept centered around superheroes, has been a winning concept with the students and in competition. Joe Jaeger commented “our program this summer is entitled ‘Invincible.’ Since it is superhero themed, the kids can easily grasp the concept of working hard to become invincible. That has been a huge motivator for us.”

The show opens to the heroic sounds of Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland, a well-known piece in the band community that has been heard frequently in popular culture. The music and drill introduce the idea of a superhero and the chaos that a superhero might encounter. The remainder of the show features excerpts from Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10. On the music choices, Keith Saxton, music director commented “the music has a lot of energy, and it sets the right mood to fit the visuals of the show. We take classical music and make it cool for the kids.”

The Cadets have had a successful competitive season. They began their season with a non-competitive parade at Zimmerman’s Wild West Days Parade, a long-time Cadets tradition. Their first competitive parade took place at Milaca on June 15th, where they won Grand Champion, and also received caption awards for Best Color Guard and Best Percussion. On June 17th the Cadets attended the Harry Wenger (Owatonna) and Lake Waconia Marching Band Festivals, two of the largest competitive marching band festivals in the state. Throughout the day, the Cadets took top honors in Class AAA and overall Grand Champion at both the Harry Wenger (Owatonna) and Lake Waconia Marching Band Festivals, as well as two caption awards for Best Color Guard, two for Best Percussion, one for Best Winds, one for Best Drum Majors, and a People’s Choice award from the Harry Wenger Festival. Additionally, for the fifth consecutive year, the Cadets took home the Owat-onia Award for achieving the top combined score from the two festivals that day.

“This season has been extremely positive,” said Jaeger, “and the kids have had great attitudes the whole time. We have been pushing them hard to become stronger each year, and they are really latching on to that this season! Instructors and students are raising the bar every single year, even with the compressed summer rehearsal schedule.” Saxton says “Our music has definitely intensified over the last four years. The kids are able to play faster and more complex pieces.”

On June 22nd, the Cadets performed for the Riverfront Concert Series in Elk River, then the Rockin’ Rogers parade on June 24th. Following the parade, they traveled to Alexandria to perform in the Minnesota Drum Corps Premiere along with the 777 Lancers from Mankato and Alexandria Marching Bands plus four of Minnesota’s drum and bugle corps who debuted their 2017 shows.

The next day, the Cadets marched in the Vikingland Band Festival, a parade regarded as one of the biggest marching band competitions in the Midwest, and as the unofficial state championship for Minnesota parade marching. At Alexandria, the Cadets were incredibly successful. They received 1st place in their class for the fifth year running, caption awards for Best Winds, Best Color Guard, and Best Percussion, the coveted People’s Choice Award, and overall Grand Champion of the festival. A video excerpt of their performance from the judges stand can be found on Vikingland Band Festival’s Facebook page. The video had 10,000 views in 24 hours:

For years the 728 Cadets have followed the Alexandria weekend with another favorite event, the Roseville Rose Parade, which took place June 26th. This is another highly competitive parade and the Cadets took first place honors in their class plus Best Percussion and Best Color Guard caption awards. Other late-season parades for the Cadets include the Pierre Bottineau Parade in Maple Grove on July 13th, the Monticello Riverfest Parade on July 16th, and a final home show in Elk River for the Sherburne County Fair parade on July 22nd.

In addition to their Minnesota performances, this year the Cadets will be travelling to Traverse City, Michigan July 5 – 9 to perform in the National Cherry Festival, an annual event dating back to 1926 that sees an average of 500,000 attendees over the course of 8 days. The National Cherry Festival is hosting three parades this year, and the Cadets will be marching in two of them: the Junior Royale Parade on July 6th, and the Cherry Royale Parade on July 8th. While traveling the Cadets will also visit Mackinac Island and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park.

This season will see the graduation of 17 seniors. Many of the students have been marching with the organization over four years. One such student who has been with the organization for eight years is Kory Esterberg of Elk River High School, a current season drum major. Kory has participated in 14 seasons between summer marching band and indoor percussion in a variety of roles, such as honor guard, bass drum, tenors, marimba, and drum major. “Being a Cadet is much more than just being in a band,” says Kory. “It’s more of a family. My best memories are with this group and I will always remember them. Being a Cadet has taught me so much about respect, responsibility and musicianship. The Minnesota street marching community is a special group of amazing people who provide support and encouragement to all competitors. The 728 Cadets and the Minnesota marching community have taught and continue to teach life lessons about how to respect others.”

The 728 Cadets Marching Band is directed by Joe Jaeger. The color guard is directed by Evan Pufpaff with the help of Carrie Snyder and Lauren Hipsag. Percussion is directed by Joe Jaeger along with Jake Esterberg, Joey Wattenhofer and Dani Augustine. Winds are directed by Keith Saxton with the help of Ethan Wightkin and Shannon Curtis.  Visual Design is provided by Jacob Daniel, Joe Jaeger, and Alexis MacArthur.

728 Cadets Marching Arts is a non-profit music organization within school district (ISD 728) serving students grades 7 – 12 in the Elk River, Rogers, and Zimmerman schools.  Programming includes summer parade marching, plus indoor ensembles for specific disciplines in percussion, color guard, and winds. In addition to performance education, there are many benefits that come from participating in marching arts programs:

  • Students, grades 7 – 12, work as a team and learn what it takes to pull off a large-scale production that’s fun, competitive, and entertaining.

  • Students use the competitive shows to better their performance, and set goals to improve scores each event.

  • Upper classmen are given opportunities to develop their leadership skills.

  • Camaraderie is built between District 728 students and other school ensembles.

  • Students improve physical endurance, as the performance roles are physically demanding.

Related resources:



MN Parade Bands:

Harry Wenger Band Festival:

Vikingland Band Festival:

Vikingland Band Festival Wikipedia:

Mar 30

Fond Memories From Our 2017 Seniors

The 728 Cadets board of directors and staff strive to provide a quality marching arts program to the students in ISD 728 serving students in Rogers, Elk River and Zimmerman.

We’d like to share some of the experiences Cadet and River Valley Winter Arts students have had in our marching program. Below are a few excerpts from the 2017 senior biographies that were printed in our Winter Arts Festival program:

“The faith that they have placed in me and shown me over the years has given me such confidence in my abilities in and out of music related activities. It has changed my life so greatly.”

“This group has helped me improve as a musician and a leader. And through this I have created friendships that will last a lifetime.”

“Growing up with a disability in my arm made finding a place that I fit in seem almost non-existent and I definitely never thought I would find a family in a bunch of drummers. I tried other sports, gave both soccer and hockey a shot, but that never really clicked. I joined marching band during the summer as a sax player and started to love the feeling I got working with such a talented group.”

“This group let me connect with my friends far more often and more intimately that if we had no place to go and nothing to do, summer after summer and winter after winter. And for that, I’m really thankful. Having a place where you feel you belong is huge, you know? Especially for us kids. The Cadets has been a great group to grow up in, and I’m happy I grew up with them.”

“I have learned so many things ever since I began besides how to spin, dance and toss. How to prove people wrong when they doubted me. I’ve learned how to overcome the hardest obstacles. When something goes down we GET STRONGER. It has made me a better performer, a better leader, more confident, and shaped me into the person I am today.”

“Life skills I have learned thanks to my many instructors and teachers will always follow me, and I will never forget the people who taught me.”

“Joining the Cadets has led to so many new experiences and opportunities I would never get any other way.”

“The 728 Cadets organization has changed my life in ways I can barely begin to describe. I have grown as a drummer, a leader, and as a person thanks to this group of people.

“Color guard has truly helped me find myself, and it has allowed me to meet some pretty amazing people throughout the years.”

“Marching made me more confident and without it, I would have never become who I am now.”

 “The staff are super welcoming and help you with anything you need. They also strive to make us better people, to be good sports and to treat others with respect above all else.”

“ I have been taught many important lessons, started many great friendships, and discovered a passion for performing that I never knew I had!”

“I’m trying to make myself ready to start the next chapter of my life, but it’s hard to leave such an amazing group of people that hold so many of my favorite memories.”

Oct 04

Summer 2016 Recap and New Leadership for 2017 Season

August 26, 2016 – The 728 Cadets wrapped up a 7 week summer tour pleasing crowds across Minnesota with fifteen engagements including playing the national anthem at a Minnesota Twins game. The Cadets also said goodbye to retiring co-head director Mike Reed who has been with the 728 Cadets organization for the last 4 years, filling head director and music director positions for both Winter and Summer marching arts activities. Reed plans to spend more time with family and become a marching arts judge. 728 Cadets President Don Schunk, says “Mike Reed’s leadership and commitment to our students over the last four years is greatly appreciated. Because of the passion and dedication he instilled in the group, he leaves us with a very strong program and with momentum going into future seasons. With very talented and committed students, supportive parents, and exceptional staff, we are in a great position to continue growing the organization.”

The 728 Cadets co-head director Joe Jaeger will take over the head director position for the Summer 2017 Marching Band. Keith Saxton (Rogers Middle School Band Director and past season Cadets assistant music director) will direct the winter indoor hornline group, River Valley Sound with assistance from Mark Walentiny (previous 728 Cadets student and MN Brass alumni) as Visual Director.

For their 2016 summer production “Dare to Dream” the 728 Cadet’s music director Mike Reed switched up the repertoire weaving popular music into his arrangement. Reed knew the music would please the crowds on the street, but said it was a risk for marching arts competition. The challenge was for the students to tell a story through the music and their performance with the support of props, dazzling uniforms, and dynamic drill design. Video highlights of the 2016 season tour can be watched at:

Competitive marching festivals are always favorite engagements for students and the Cadets remained a top contender at those events. On June 18th the Cadets took top honors in Class AAA and overall Grand Champion at both the Harry Wenger (Owatonna) and Lake Waconia Marching Band Festivals. In addition they received a People’s Choice award, 2 each Best Color Guard, Winds, and Percussion awards, and achieved the top combined score for the day to receive the Owat-onia award for the fourth year in a row. On June 26th, the Cadets competed in Alexandria’s Vikingland Band Festival, one of the largest street marching band competitions in the Midwest. They received 1st place in Class AAAA for the fourth year in a row along with Best Winds, Color Guard, and Percussion; but were edged out of the Grand Champion award for the festival by .10, with that award going to Class AAA Champion Waconia Marching Band. Summer marching season scores can be found at

The vibrant colors of the uniforms and rolling props set the stage for a theatrical performance portraying a dream sequence.  The “Dare to Dream” repertoire began with Pure Imagination by Leslie Bricusse, where the students portrayed fun, happy characters of a Dreamer’s imagination. Then the mood changed to a darker, more drastic setting as the dream took a sharp turn and became a terrifying nightmare. The characters turned and were no longer fun, but scary and taunting while performing Children’s Hour of Dream by Charles Mingus. Closing the performance was a crowd favorite, Dream On by Steven Tyler, where the mood turned from scary to somber and the characters and Dreamer regained confidence knowing nothing could do them harm.

The 728 Cadets Marching Band were 98 students strong from District 728 schools, including Elk River, Rogers, and Zimmerman middle and high schools. In addition to the performance education they received from instructors, there were many benefits that came from participating in summer marching band:

  • Students improved physical endurance as the summer temperatures increased and they marched in community parades through mid July.

  • Students used the competitive parades to better their performance and set goals to improve scores each event.

  • Students grades 6 – 12 worked as a team to pull off a large scale production that could be fun, competitive, and entertaining to communities they performed for.

  • Leadership experiences were available for upper classmen to develop their skills.

  • Camaraderie was built between District 728 students and other school bands.

The 2016 staff consisted of Mike Reed (Co-Head Director, Music Instructor), Joe Jaeger (Co-Head Director, Percussion Instructor), Evan Pufpaff, Carrie Snyder, (Color Guard Instructors), Mark Walentiny, Matt Brisbin, Austin Batula, Alexis MacArthur, Wyatt Martin, Zach Hathcock, and Joey Wattenhofer (Techs). Hornline music arrangements were by Mike Reed, percussion music written by Joe Jaeger, and marching drill created by Mike Reed and Evan Pufpaff.


Related resources:

2016 Video Highlights   

728 Cadets:              Website



MN Parade Bands:

Harry Wenger Band Festival:

Vikingland Band Festival:

Vikingland Band Festival Wikipedia:

Apr 30

River Valley Winter Arts Advance to Finals at 2016 WGI World Competition

April 18, 2016. Elk River, MN – The 728 Cadets wrapped up their winter arts season with all three programs advancing to the finals round at Winter Guard International (WGI) Sport of the Arts World Championships in Dayton, OH during April. “To have all three of our winter groups earn finalist spots at the WGI competition is something very few groups nationally can say they have accomplished. This is a credit to the extremely strong music departments across our entire district. The teachers who see our students on a daily basis are to be commended for their contributions to our students’ music education,” says River Valley Sound Director Mike Reed. Winter arts groups, River Valley Winter Guard, River Valley Percussion Theatre, and River Valley Sound are offered to students grades 7 – 12 from ISD 728 schools of Elk River, Rogers, and Zimmerman.

River Valley Winter Guard (RVWG) topped off their season at the WGI Sport of the Arts Winter Guard World Championships in Dayton, Ohio on April 9, 2016. Competing under the name Elk River High School, the team placed 5th among 120 other winter guard units from across the United States ­–­ peaking with a season high score of 94.330 out of 100. “Headed to World Championships for RVWG’s second time ever, many didn’t know what to expect. Our 20 young performers were in for an exciting weekend following their success at WGI’s national regional competition in March where we were ranked 12th in the world,” says Director Evan Pufpaff. “As a World Championships finalist we accomplished something that most groups don’t get to, and we did it as a team. Tears filled every member’s eyes with excitement and joy waiting for scores to be posted during the qualifying rounds. When we realized we would make it to the finals we knew that 6 months of bruises, injuries, and long practices were worth it.”

Winter Guard is an artistic and interpretive performance medium that combines music and modern dance with flags, sabres, mock rifles, and other traditional marching arts equipment, and takes place over the winter season. In their fifth season, RVWG’s 2016 production On Target displayed a journey from one side of the floor to the other showcasing different battles and challenges along the way that require training and precision. They took inspiration from the battles that life throws at every individual and the struggle to keep one’s head up and eye on the final outcome. Some people experience more difficult situations than others, but one always relies on the people around them to keep moving forward. Through training and practice everyone is able to overcome what they once thought they couldn’t. The men and women of the military are prime examples of people who endure the unexpected and challenges of battle. RVWG works as a unit and won’t let weaknesses leave anyone behind. On Target was created by RVWG Director Evan Pufpaff. During their 2016 season competing in Scholastic A Class they earned 1st place seven times, 5th place at WGI Regionals, 1st place at North Star Circuit (NSC) Championships and 5th place at WGI World Championships.

River Valley Percussion Theatre (RVPT) competed in WGI’s Sport of the Arts World Percussion Championships competition April 14-16, 2016 in Dayton OH. The team placed 11th among 60 other percussion ensembles, with a season high score of 90.625 out of 100 in the finals competition. Director Joe Jaeger said, “Seeing the kids, staff, and parents react to our placement in finals was definitely a moment to remember. When the scores were posted, I had a flashback to the rest of the season, and really the past six years I’ve been with the group. This was a big moment in RVPT’s history that the kids worked very hard for. We are extremely proud and humbled to call ourselves world finalists.”

Drumline is an indoor percussion competition that marries elements of music performance, marching techniques, and theatre. This year’s production, Forbidden portrayed the story of a tribe of people, united in belief and purpose, deeply devoted to its object of worship – the tree of knowledge and life. The tribe is drawn to the tree and the balance, strength and beauty it represents, but they must not touch the tree or eat its fruit. One man succumbs to temptation and eats the fruit, betraying his tribe and becomes an outcast. Though his eyes are opened to the newfound knowledge, he is blinded by bliss and can’t understand why others won’t accept his transformation. With the freedom to choose, will others remain obedient, or be consumed by temptation? Forbidden’s music and movement were created by RVPT Director Joe Jaeger and Assistant Director Chris Judd. During their 2016 season, competing in Scholastic A Class, they earned 1st place three times, 2nd place one time, 3rd place at WGI Regionals, 2nd place at Minnesota Percussion Association (MPA) Championships, and 11th place at the WGI World Championships.

River Valley Sound, the Cadets indoor winds ensemble placed 5th in the finals competition at WGI’s World Championships for Winds in Scholastic Open Class, achieving a score of 81.325 out of 100 on April 17, 2016. Open class is a higher class given a more challenging repertoire. Director Mike Reed said, “This year the staff wanted to create a more challenging program for our students to compete at a national level. The students accomplished more than we could have dreamed in just our 3rd year of existence. To be able to compete against some very large and successful nationally recognized programs is just what we need to continue to grow and raise our personal level of achievement. What we as River Valley Sound accomplished at WGI is no small feat and will be a memory our students will have for the rest of their lives. As their director I am so very proud of how they performed over the course of this season.”

Three years ago, the 728 Cadets pioneered this new indoor marching arts medium, River Valley Sound (RVS), the first of it’s kind in the upper Midwest. RVS provides musicians opportunities for marching arts music and performance experience in the winter months, combining traditional wind ensemble instrumentation, marching, and dance. River Valley Sound’s 2016 production After Midnight takes place just outside a 1930s jazz club in Harlem. The ties are loose and the band is jumping after midnight. Their music Midnight Blue, composed and arranged by Assistant Director Keith Saxton (Roger Middle School Band Director) is influenced by many jazz legends from the 1940s to the present day in an original jazz composition. RVS explores swing, Latin and fusion jazz styles while featuring many improvised solos in the jazz tradition. Director Michael Reed designed movement and their set. While the competitive circuit is still developing for the Winds program across the nation, RVS filled their 2016 season with exhibition and judged performances improving their scores throughout the season.

WGI is a non-profit youth organization and the leading governing body over indoor winter guard, percussion and winds activities. Winter marching arts marries performance and music into a competitive format while providing hours of entertainment for their audience. WGI Sport of the Arts strives to inspire the participants to achieve the highest artistic and creative standards and provides competition as a means to encourage the highest standard of excellence. Following each competition, every group is provided a critique to learn and improve for their next performance. Learn more at

The 728 Cadets winter arts participate in WGI’s regional competitions each year, and have each competed at the world championships; RVPT three times, RVWG twice and RVS once. In addition to receiving quality music, performance and marching arts education, winter arts participants improve on teamwork skills, receive leadership opportunities, and gain experience taking a performance production on the road. Learn more about the 728 Cadets winter arts groups at, see past season shows on Vimeo, and follow them on Facebook.


SEE River Valley Sound Photos >>

SEE River Valley Winter Guard Photos >>

SEE River Valley Percussion Theatre Photos >>


2016 728 Cadets Winter Arts Staff:

River Valley Winter Guard Staff
Head Director: Evan Pufpaff
Assistant Director: Carrie Snyder
Techs: Lauren Hipsag, Nicole Killian

River Valley Percussion Theatre Staff
Head Director: Joe Jaeger
Assistant Director: Chris Judd
Techs: Jake Esterberg, Tim Badaczewski, Zach Hathcock, Andy Eklund, Jacque Gaetz,
Logan Sabinash, Micaela Brevig

River Valley Sound Staff
Head Director: Michael Reed
Assistant Director: Keith Saxton
Techs: Mark Walentiny, Matt Brisbin

Sep 21

728 Cadets Marching Band Rose to Success in 2015

August 18, 2015 – Students in the 728 Cadets Marching Band enjoyed another spectacular marching season. Since May, the Cadets competed in parades across the state of Minnesota, and in St. Louis, Missouri, marching in the Veiled Prophet Parade on July 4th. Their dedication and hard work allowed them to achieve two of their season goals; to retire two Grand Champion awards – a traveling flag from the Vikingland Band Festival in Alexandria, and the Owat-onia trophy from the Henry Wenger and Waconia Band Festivals. The honor of retiring each award is achieved by earning Grand Champion awards for three consecutive years. In total this season the Cadets earned 42 awards, including 15 awards for Grand Champion and First Place, 9 for Best Color Guard, 8 for Best Drumline, 3 for Best Winds, 2 for Best Drum Major, 1 for Best Marching and 3 for People’s Choice.

The Cadet’s show, “Rise,” told the story of the Phoenix, a fiery bird from ancient mythology. The Phoenix obtains new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor in a constant cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. The show’s first movement includes the music, Dies Irae: from Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi, and depicts the Phoenix in the final moments of its life, collapsing in flame and losing its wings. During the second movement, the band performed an arrangement of Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, and portrayed mourning the Phoenix’ death. The final movement illustrated the triumphant rise of the Phoenix from the ashes with Festive Overture by Dmitri Shostakovich. Cadets’ co-directors, Michael Reed and Joe Jaeger, sought to challenge musicians with this repertoire, marrying the demanding music with bold visual elements and artistic movement, including a colorful representation of the Phoenix weaving through the performance.

The Cadets first major success came on June 20th, when competing in the Harry Wenger Band Festival in Owatonna, and the Lake Waconia Band festival in Waconia, MN. In the morning, at the Owatonna festival, the Cadets won many caption awards, as well as the People’s Choice Award, but came in third overall. That evening, the Cadets rallied at the Waconia festival, earning first place in their class, winning all caption awards, and received the day’s second People’s Choice award. With the Waconia victory, the Cadets achieved the highest combined score of the two festivals that day and for the third year in a row, taking home the prestigious Owat-onia Award, and earning the right to retire the traveling trophy and keep it. On June 28th, the Cadets traveled to Alexandria, home of the Vikingland Band Festival, one of the largest street marching band competitions in the Midwest. They received 1st place in Class AAAA and were awarded Grand Champion of the festival for the third year in a row; giving the honor of retiring both the AAAA class flag, and the festival’s Grand Champion flag. The Cadets are the fourth band in Vikingland Band Festival’s 30-year history to retire the Grand Champion flag. Other bands that have retired the flag are Litchfield (1989), Irondale (1993, 1996), and Waconia (2006).

The Cadets are known for bringing a conceptual production to life on the streets and holding themselves to a high performance standard. In a recent article in the St. Cloud Times1, Tom Haugen of Tri-State Judges Association said about Minnesota marching: “It [Minnesota] is the only state in the United States that has a competitive marching parade program.” Assistant judge, Lane Powell, added, “People don’t get that this is truly unique to Minnesota… they [bands] do shows in the street. You go to Iowa this won’t happen, they just do a straight traditional march through.” When the Cadets traveled to St. Louis, Missouri and marched in the Veiled Prophet Parade on Independence Day, the parade attendees were captivated by the Cadets’ performance on the streets. Director Mike Reed summarized their show by saying, “The 728 Cadets have always been a crowd favorite. We built upon our past successes and created a challenging production for all members and still provided a show that was entertaining, but had a real message at the same time. By providing a challenging repertoire and visual theme, we brought to life a memorable experience for our members and the fans on the streets where we marched.”

The 728 Cadets Marching Band is made up of 93 talented students from District 728 schools, including Elk River, Rogers, and Zimmerman middle and high schools. In addition to the educational value they receive from their instructors, the students enjoy the excitement their performances bring to events as well as the relationships they build through meeting other students across the school district, and from other bands. In fact, during a rain delay during this year’s Rosefest Parade, the Cadets enjoyed an impromptu student-led jam session with the St. Michael-Albertville and Richfield marching bands. “The camaraderie between schools made a lasting impression on the Cadets” said Cindy Martin, Cadets board member.

This season’s staff consists of Mike Reed and Joe Jaeger (Head Directors, Music and Percussion Instructors respectively) Keith Saxton, (Music Instructor), Jonathan Su, Carrie Snyder, (Color Guard Instructors), Jake Esterberg, Roberto Munoz, Joey Wattenhofer, Mark Walentiny, Matt Brisbin, Nick Campbell, and Hannah Maher (Techs). The music arrangements as well as band drill were created by Mike Reed and Joe Jaeger.

On August 1, 2015, the Cadets were proud to lead the cancer survivors lap during the 2015 Elk River Relay for Life as well as perform the Star Spangeled Banner for the ceremony. Looking forward the Cadets have one final performance on August 29, 2015 at the MN State Fair.

Related resources:
2015 Video Highlights:   
2015 Photo Highlights:
728 Cadets Website:
MN Parade Bands:
Henry Wenger Band Festival:
Vikingland Band Festival:
Vikingland Band Festival Wikipedia:
Veiled Prophet Parade:


1Rodgers B. (2015, June 27) Judges tout strength of bands in Granite City Parade. St. Cloud Times.  Retrieved from:

Jul 01

728 Cadets Marching Band Celebrate Another Grand Summer

July 1, 2014 – The 728 Cadets Marching Band is enjoying another successful season, earning top honors at various parades across Minnesota over the past four weeks. The Cadets have competed among the best street marching bands in the state, and at this point in the season they’ve won a total of 32 First Place awards, including 5 awards for Grand Champion, 7 for First Place in their Class, 4 for Best Winds, 8 for Best Color Guard, 7 for Best Drumline and 1 for People’s Choice. This year has been especially successful for the Cadets color guard, who have remained undefeated in their competitive season. The Cadets’ summer reached a high point while competing on Sunday, June 29th, when they attended the Vikingland Band Festival in Alexandria, Minnesota. They received 1st place in Class AAAA and were awarded Grand Champion of the festival for the second year in a row. In addition they received caption awards for Best Color Guard and Drumline.

Just a week before on June 21st, they particpated in the Owotanna Harry Wenger Marching Band Festival, in which they took 2nd place in Class AAA and received caption awards for Best Winds, Color Guard, and Drumline. Later that day, they competed in the Lake Waconia Band Festival, and earned 1st Place in Class AAA, along with Grand Champion for the festival, and received caption awards for Best Winds, Color Guard, Drumline, and the People’s Choice Award. They also received the “Owatonnia Award,” an award given to the band receiving the highest combined scores in the Owatonna and Lake Waconia Band Festivals.

The Cadets Director Tom Gallus praised the Cadets, saying, “I couldn’t be more proud of the development of these young performers throughout the season. You will never see a group of students from the entire district work so well as a team. They all had each other’s back through thick and thin and wouldn’t let each other down no matter what happened. Sprained ankles, bruises, dislocated fingers…they were always there for each other and fought through the pain together…and the reward was great!”

2014 Season Awards
Princeton, Rum River Festival
-       2nd Place, Class AAA
-       Best Color Guard
-       Best Drumline
Lake Crystal, Battle of the Bands
-       2nd Place, Class AAA
-       Best Winds
-       Best Color Guard
Albertville, Friendly City Days Parade
-       1st Place
Owatonna, Harry Wenger Marching Band Festival
-       2nd Place, Class AAA
-       Best Winds
-       Best Color Guard
-       Best Drumline
Waconia, Lake Waconia Band Festival
-       1st Place, Class AAA
-       Best Winds
-       Best Color Guard
-       Best Drumline
-       People’s Choice
-       Waconia Grand Champion
-       “Owatonia” Award
Milaca, Gateway to the Northland Festival Parade
-       1st Place, Class AAA
-       Best Color Guard
-       Best Drumline
-       Milaca Grand Champion
Fridley, 49ers Days Parade
-       1st Place, Class AA
St. Cloud, Granite City Days Parade
-       1st Place, Class AA
-       Best Color Guard
-       Best Drumline
-       St. Cloud Grand Champion
Alexandria, Vikingland Band Festival
-       1st Place, Class AAAA
-       Best Color Guard
-       Best Drumline
-       Alexandria Grand Champion
Roseville, Rose Parade
-       1st Place, Class AAA
-       Best Winds
-       Best Color Guard
-       Best Drumline
-       Roseville Grand Champion

The Cadets’ continue to raise the bar on the summer marching band scene with their 2014 production Spectacular with combined elements of music, performance, marching techniques, and theatre. Spectacular presents the marching band as a traveling side show made up of the greatest musicians and performers in the world who excite and dazzle their audience with incredible stunts and sensational music. The marching band production is directed by Tom Gallus, and features music from Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Tom Gallus’ team includes Mike Reed, Keith Saxton, Christ Moore (Musical Directors), Matt Turchotte, Rachel Graack (Color Guard Directors), Joe Jaeger, James Schuster (Drumline Directors), Mark Walentiny, Lauren Hipsag, Jake Esterberg, and Jacque Gaetz (Band Techs). The band’s movement was written by Tom Gallus, while hornline and percussion music were arranged by Mike Reed and Joe Jaeger, respectively.

The 728 Cadets Marching Band is made up of 90 talented students from District 728 schools, including Elk River, Rogers, and Zimmerman. In just 7 years, the Cadets have built a reputation as one of the state’s elite summer marching band programs. The mission of the Cadets organization is to teach students life lessons and pursue excellence in the ultimate sport of music and performance, so that young adults experience enjoyment while combining the best of athletics and the arts.

The Cadets entire performance schedule for 2014 includes 17 different parades or festivals. Yet this summer they will still be traveling to:

July 4: Forest Lake July 4th Celebration Parade, Forest Lake, MN
July 10: Maple Grove Pierre Bottineau Parade, Maple Grove, MN
July 12: Watercade Celebration Parade, Litchfield, MN
July 13: Monticello Riverfest Parade, Monticello, MN
July 19: Sherburne County Fair, Elk River, MN

Apr 24

728 Cadets Broke New Ground In 2014 Winter Arts Season

April 25, 2014

The 728 Cadets wrapped up their winter arts season with honors and broke ground for a new Winter Guard International (WGI) Sport of the Arts performance medium.

IMG_7603-1River Valley Percussion Theatre (RVPT) took first place honors out of 12 competing ensembles in the Winter Guard International (WGI) Sport of the Arts Regional Drumline competition on March 22, 2014 in Buffalo MN, and then received first place honors among 8 ensembles for the 3rd year in a row at the Minnesota Percussion Association Championship Show in Rochester on March 29, 2014. RVPT competed in the Scholastic A class during both events and achieved their highest score of the season, 90.725 out of 100, ending their season with a perfect record after placing first in all six shows they competed in during their 2014 season. Drumline is an exciting indoor percussion competition that marries elements of music performance, marching techniques, and theatre. This year’s production, FLIGHT, was a journey through the unknown, set in the sky. As humans look into the world above, it seems so distant, yet so simple. However, an airborne life can never be fully understood by the grounded. RVPT’s FLIGHT demonstrated this unattainable lifestyle, taking you on a ride through sunny skies, wind storms, cold nights of rest, and the excitement of reaching the destination. FLIGHT was created by RVPT director, Joe Jaeger. See video of their production and photo highlights.

IMG_7415River Valley Winterguard (RVWG) ended their season at the WGI Sport of the Arts Winter Guard Finals in Dayton, Ohio on April 4, 2014. Competing among 122 other winter guard units from across the United States, they placed 66th – a strong ending to their 3rd season. During the 2014 season they competed 6 times and received 3 first and 3 second place finishes including the Scholastic A class championship in the Minnesota Northstar Color Guard finals. Their whimsical production Composing “A Class” was created by 728 Cadets head director Tom Gallus. It encompasses the idea of every guard show and how they all relate by different elements. The production’s setting is a class room where the teacher gives tips and tricks that you too can use to compose your own award winning “A Class” production. Winter Guard is an artistic and interpretive performance competition that combines music and modern dance with flags, sabres, mock rifles, and other traditional marching band equipment. See video of their production and photo highlights.


Also this past season the 728 Cadets pioneered a new ensemble group, River Valley Sound (RVS), the first of it’s kind in the upper Midwest. RVS provided musicians opportunities for marching arts music and performance experience in the winter months, combining traditional wind ensemble instrumentation, marching, and dance to create a new and unique performance medium. A traditional wind ensemble includes flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto tenor and bari sax, trumpet, mellophone, trombone, baritone, and tuba. WGI Sport of the Arts Indoor will begin an indoor hornline circuit of competition in 2015. RVS was proud to demonstrate their 2014 production, AWAKENING and this new sport at 3 exhibition performances last March. Through the music of Tichelli, Stravinsky, Orff, and Pachelbel, RVS walked us through life’s trying times to our AWAKENING. Through our lives we deal with adversity and demons on a regular basis. It is how we react and rise from those times that define our character. Just as the Firebird faces adversity and rises from the ashes, so do we as we awaken into our lives. AWAKENING was created by RVS director, Michael Reed. See video of their production and photo highlights.

A highlight in the 2014 season for the 728 Cadets organization was the 8th annual River Valley Winter Arts Festival on March 15 at Elk River High School. 20 different color guard and drumline units were hosted, making the festival one of the largest shows within the Minnesota Percussion Association (MPA) and the North Star Circuit of Colorguards (NSCC) circuits. 23 performances, including the 728 Cadets’ three winter ensembles, provided spectacular entertainment for over 2,000 competitors and spectators.

All three winter ensembles feature talented students, grades 7-12 from District 728 schools, including Elk River, Rogers, and Zimmerman. The 728 Cadets strives to equip its members with the highest level of education in musicianship and life skills.  See past season shows on Vimeo, and follow the 728 Cadets on Facebook.

2014 Winter Arts Program Directors and Staff:
Head Director, Tom Gallus
River Valley Percussion Theatre Staff
Joe Jaeger (Head Director/Program Coordinator)
Liz Johnson (Frontline Instructor)
Nina Zywicki (Frontline Tech)
Emily Johnson (Frontline Tech)
Matt Mann (Battery Tech)
James Schuster (Battery Tech)
Tim Badaczewski (Battery Tech)
Jake Esterberg (Battery Tech)
Jacque Gaetz (Battery Tech)
Tom Gallus (Program Consultant)
River Valley Winterguard Staff
Tom Gallus (Head Director)
Sarah Gallus
Trisha Abel
Rachel Graack
John Joseph
Alex Holland
River Valley Sound Staff
Michael Reed (Director, Designer, Program Coordinator)
Keith Saxton (Instrumental Specialist)
Mark Walentiny (Visual Tech)
Tom Gallus (Program Consultant)

Jun 30

728 Cadets Earn Two Grand Champion Honors At Weekend Band Festivals

June 30, 2013 – The 728 Cadets Marching Band enjoyed another successful weekend, earning top honors at the Osseo Marching Band Festival and the Vikingland Marching Band Festival in Alexandria, MN this weekend. The Osseo festival featured 14 competing bands on Saturday, June 30, where the 728 Cadets and Mankato’s 77 Lancers tied for both the AAA Champion and Grand Champion awards—marking the first time in the festival’s 30 year history that two bands have shared the Grand Champion title. The Cadets built on the Saturday’s successful performance by winning the class AAAA Champion and Grand Champion titles at Sunday’s Vikingland Marching Band Festival in Alexandria, MN. As the summer’s largest band festival, the Alexandria competition featured 21 marching bands who performed to an estimated 20,000 spectators. Considered by many who participate to be the state championship, the Vikingland Grand Champion is the season’s most coveted title. The Vikingland Class AAAA and Grand Champion titles are the Cadet’s first in their 6 year history. Director, Tom Gallus, praised the Cadets’ performance, saying, “This weekend the Cadets found a new level. The staff always knew what these kids are capable of, but it took some extra digging from the students to find what it really means to perform with true heart and emotion. I couldn’t be more proud of these kids.”

728 Cadets Weekend Award Summary

Vikingland Marching Band Festival – 6/30/2013

  • Grand Champion

  • Class AAAA Champion

  • Best Color Guard

Osseo Marching Band Festival – 6/29/2013

  • Co-Grand Champion (Mankato 7 Lancers)

  • Co-Class AAA Champion (Mankato 77 Lancers)

  • Best Color Guard

  • Best Drumline

St. Cloud Granite City Days Parade – 6/29/2013

  • 2nd Place, Class AAA

  • Best Color Guard

The 728 Cadets include 94 talented students from District 728 schools, including Elk River, Rogers, and Zimmerman. In just 6 years, the Cadets have built a reputation as one of the state’s elite summer marching band programs. The 728 Cadets organization strives to equip their members with the highest level of education in percussion, musicianship and life skills.

The Cadets’ production, “A Simple Gift,” marries elements of music performance, marching techniques, and theatre, and depicts the timeless tale of The Wizard of Oz’ character, the Tin Man, receiving a gift of his greatest desire—a heart. The marching band production is directed by Tom Gallus, and features music from Chorale and Shaker Dance by John Zdechlik. Tom Gallus’ team includes Mike Reed (Musical Director), Sarah Gallus (Color Guard Director), Jared Peterson (Color Guard Assistant Director) and Joe Jaeger (Drumline Director).

Jun 16

“Owatonnia” Is Ours In 2013

By Ken Tracy

AwardsAs I think about how Saturday, June 15th 2013 happened I am amazed at the day that the 728 Cadets Marching Band has had. All 94 students arrived for the buses at RHS by the 6:30am call time. We boarded and the Chaperones did a nose count to be sure we had everyone. We also loaded the parents and staff that were there to help through the day. This however is not a typical day since we were doing a double header including the Harry Wenger Marching Band Festival in Owatonna, Minnesota in the morning and then the Lake Waconia Band Festival in Waconia Minnesota later in the evening.

The Head Director is Tom Gallus, who for the past 5 seasons has developed the inspiration and the shows each season. His staff is made up of the Musical Director, Mike Reed, Drumline Director, Joe Jaeger and Color Guard Director, Sarah Gallus, Assistant Color Guard Director, Jared Peterson.

The Theme for this year is “A Simple Gift” and is a story about the Tin Man receiving his heart. The music is “Chorale and Shaker Dance” by John Zdechlik who wrote the piece.

Both Parades provide a street for warm up and rehearsal before the event begins. Each town receives 12 to 14 Marching Bands from across the state. There are three classes A, AA and AAA and 728 Cadets compete in AAA. With each unit averaging 75+ players and color guard, the logistics to prepare each marching unit and be ready for the parade on time is a well choreographed effort including parents and staff who support the kids so they can concentrate on the music and movement of the show.

The Harry Wenger Band Festival begins at 11:00am sharp. The 728 Cadets were 11th in line to compete. There are 3 “Play” areas along the route and the final is the Judging area on Main Street downtown Owatonna. At each “Play” area were area residents, parents and supporters of the bands and also many interested folks from across the state who show up for the excitement of competitive marching band events. Our shows went well at each area and the crowds really seemed to enjoy the music and the show that goes into each performance.

After each unit completes in the parade they meet up at the buses and shed their uniforms and costumes to go to the Central Park get fed and await the awards ceremony. Owatonna has a very nice stage and setting for their awards and all of the competing units, parents and directors are there for them. See a complete listing of all of the awards.

The 728 Cadets this year won the following awards and captions for the Harry Wenger Marching Band festival.

•    Best Color Guard
•    Best Drumline
•    Best Marching and Maneuvering

•    1st Place (AAA)
•    Grand Champion

Other caption awards that we missed were Best Hornline won by the Waconia Marching Jays and Best Drum Major won by the Mankato 77 Lancers.

The rain fortunately held off until this part of the day as we and many of the other bands loaded up on their buses and headed for the Lake Waconia Band Festival. Upon arrival the sun was out for the first time of the day. We set up and started to practice and rehearse for the parade. The kids were feeling good and everyone was still excited by our morning at Owatonna.

At Lake Waconia there were 14 bands in competition. The class AAA included 4 bands: Mankato 77 Lancers, Litchfield Marching Dragons, 728 Cadets and the Park-Center Marching Pirates. Each of these bands has the capability to win and the competitive nature of the bands at Waconia is always very high.

At this parade there are 3 “Play” areas as there are at Owatonna. The second “Play” area is Judged and when we arrived as the 11th band the Cadets came to give the audience and judges a great show, an they did. As we left the Judging area the Announcer even said the 728 Cadets “set the bar very high for today’s parade”, a compliment we really appreciated. We marched through to the final “Play” area and gave another great performance to the crowd. It was on to stow the instruments and get out of uniforms and costumes, get a hot dog and on to the awards in the Stadium located behind Bayview Elementary School.

The stands were full and it was standing room only since there were so many bands, parents, directors and other spectators ready to see who would win not only the Caption Awards, Place Awards, People’s Choice Award, and the Grand Champion award; but also the coveted “Owatonnia” award for the overall point total between Owatonna and Waconia. As the Drum Majors marched into position of presentation to the crowd I personally was very excited and a little apprehensive as last year we were disappointed after a similar morning in Owatonna.

The Awards won by the 728 Cadets Marching Band at the Lake Waconia Marching Band Festival is as follows (AAA):

•    Best Drumline
•    Best Hornline

•    1st Place (AAA)
•    People’s Choice
•    Grand Champion
•    “Owatonnia” Award

Park Center won the Best Color Guard caption award.

To say that the 728 Cadets were shocked at the awards and the day is an understatement. Elation and joy filled each and every one who was with us when the awards were announced. Smiles and pride were on everyone’s faces for an amazing ride that lasted from 6:30am call to 9:30pm awards. View full results.

The 728 Cadets want to thank all of the parents for supporting us since we cannot do this without your help. In the coming weeks we have more parades and of course the Vikingland Band festival in Alexandria Minnesota on Sunday, June 30th 2013 to be ready for. For updated scheduling for all events and rehearsals for this season just click the link here. We want to see all parents and family at as many parades as you can attend to support us but to see this amazing show we are performing.

We’ll see you on the parade route and thank you again.

Jun 14

Princeton Rum River Festival Parade – June 13, 2013

The 13 bands competing in Princeton on Thursday, June 13 experienced some of the best marching weather this year. The good weather also brought huge crowds as the streets were lined throughout the route. The crowds were treated to many great performances throughout the evening. Overall, the Cadets finished in 3rd place.

There were also caption awards that lead to the 728 Cadets Drumline taking first place overall, and the 728 Cadets Color Guard finishing in 2nd place!

Here are the overall scores listed by class:

Class A:
Milaca 71.3
Benson 68.9
St. Francis 61.5
Hutchinson 60.5
Maple Lake 57

Class AA:
Osseo 70.5
Champlin Park 67.5
Anoka 62.1

Class AAA:
Mankato 74.5
Waconia 74.2
728 Cadets 73.7
Patriots 73.1

Milaca Junior High 50.6

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