Riczu family: Band of brothers and sisters
If it’s Friday or Saturday night in the fall and you know Anne and Norman Riczu, you probably know where to find them: sitting in the bleachers.
For the past 12 years, the couple has spent these nights cheering for Trumbull High School’s Golden Eagle Marching Band, the award-winning ensemble known for high stepping at football games on Fridays and music competitions on Saturdays.
The Riczus have had four children take part in marching band — Annie, Julia, Charlie, and Will — and can easily claim parental bragging rights for attending the most exhibitions.
“If I tried to add up all the events individually,” Anne Riczu said, “I can’t even imagine.”
A dozen years after their eldest, Annie, first hit the field, Anne and Norman can’t stand to miss a show.
“It’s become such a way of life,” she said. “It becomes your social life. The other band parents are just as excited as anyone there.”
This year’s Golden Eagles exhibition, “Constellations,” features arrangements of Dave Matthews Band’s Satellite, Gustav Holst’s Jupiter and Michael Giacchino’s Enterprising Young Men from the Star Trek soundtrack.
"As the season goes on, it just gets more polished each week, and they add little elements,” Anne said. “It’s like hearing your favorite song over and over again.”
On Oct. 24, Trumbull’s marching band scored a big victory, beating rival Norwalk at the regional Musical Arts Conference, and earning a championship title in its class.
End of an era
This season marks a bittersweet milestone for the Riczu family: It’s Anne and Norman’s last year with the marching band. Their youngest, Will, is graduating as a member of the Class of 2016.
For each of the Riczus, marching band has been a formative experience that helped prepare them for life beyond high school.
“Marching has pushed me mentally and physically and it’s given me a strong work ethic,” Will said. “It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
The first siblings to join marching band were Annie, a member of the color guard, and then Julia, a percussionist. Now 25 and 23, respectively, they both went on to attend the University of Connecticut, where Annie continued with color guard.
Their participation inspired the younger set of Riczus: bass drummer Will, 17, and snare drummer Charlie, 19, now a freshman at the University of New Haven.
“I remember watching my sisters on the field as a little kid, and then my brother, and wanting to be out there,” Will said. “Now in my senior season, they’re cheering me on.”
They also caught the music bug from their parents, who are music lovers and former on-air radio personalities at WEBE108.
“That kind of lifestyle,” Anne said, “marching band is just a natural fit.”
Peter Horton has directed the Golden Eagles for more than 20 years. In 2011, he told School Band and Orchestra Magazine: “There’s a lot of hard work involved, so not every aspect is fun, but those performances are a culmination of what they’ve worked on for the week, for the season, and for the year. That’s where I get the most gratification — when they enjoy what they’re doing and everyone has a good time together as a family and a team.”
Marching band is far from a breezy commitment for its more than 125 members. The ensemble consists of percussion, brass and woodwind players, a color guard and a drum major, coached by more than 20 faculty members. Their practice is physically demanding, requiring endurance, coordination and musical chops.
The Golden Eagles convene for two seasons. In the fall, the full ensemble performs at football games and exhibitions, including the Musical Arts Conference and USBands competitive circuits. In the winter, the band splits into three groups that vie separately for trophies.
Under Horton’s direction, Trumbull’s marching band has built a national reputation. The group has performed at the Fiesta Bowl, MetLife Stadium and Disney World. In 2009, it beat out more than 1,000 school marching bands to perform at President Obama’s first inaugural parade.
Students who stick with the program are usually better for wear.
“It really kept them focused,” Anne said. “It looks great on a college application or job résumé. It speaks volumes, and it really set them up for the future.”
Marching band also helped the Riczus form a unique family tie.
“I can’t imagine having a stronger bond where we’re doing the same thing,” Anne said, “sharing friends and experiences.”
The Golden Eagle Marching Band’s final exhibition is Friday, Nov. 13, at Trumbull High School, 72 Strobel Road. Its final competition show, the USBands Championships, is Saturday, Nov. 7, at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.