Thursday, March 23, 2023

Looking Back: Local bands dominate at competitions

For years, high school bands in southern Denton County have held their own against their peers not only in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but also on the state, regional and even national levels.

That trend continued in 2021 led by a record eighth University Interscholastic League title and second straight by Argyle High School this year in Class 4A.

Three schools from the Lewisville ISD–Hebron, Flower Mound and Marcus – also fared well, with Hebron taking its first Class 6A state title on Nov. 9 in San Antonio and Marcus and Flower Mound ranking third and fourth. Three days earlier, Hebron won the Bands of America Super Regional, also at the Alamodome, with Marcus placing seventh. The following weekend, Flower Mound finished fifth and Marcus sixth at the Bands of America (BOA) Grand Nationals in Indianapolis.

That made four appearances in the Grand Nationals finals for Marcus and three for Flower Mound at the national level. Marcus was fourth in 2009, fifth in 2013 and fourth in 2017 while Flower Mound was sixth in 2014 and fifth in 2017. Flower Mound did not compete in the BOA Super Regional and Hebron did not attend the Grand Championships.

“There’s something in the water around the Flower Mound area,” said Jason Bird, now in his fourth year as band director at Argyle after replacing Kathy Johnson, who retired. “It’s pretty incredible from southern Denton County to have these incredible band programs making national attention, it’s cool.”

Argyle’s program was called “The Sun, The Moon and All the Stars.” The show was based on the E.E. Cummings poem ‘You are My Moon and All My Stars.’ Serving as drum majors were seniors Nick Lessley and Jorge Terrazas.

“It was about seeing the light,” Bird said. “Though the poem is not in the show itself, it is based on that. The music came from a piece called ‘The New Moon in the Old Moon’s Arms’ by Michael Cayman.”

Argyle won its second straight title under Bird with just 19 seniors among 126 total performers. With the school growing as more people move into town, Bird said it may be competing at the 5A level next year.

“It’s a testament to a lot of generations,” Bird said. “The first state championship was in 2003 so those students are now probably like 35. That’s pretty incredible that it’s been going on that long.”

Argyle also won in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and last year, and finished second in 2016 and 2018. The two titles have been extra special for Bird as his sophomore son Jonah plays trombone.

“It was an amazing experience and to see the kids’ faces when they came off the field knowing that they put it all there to give themselves the best shot to win,” Bird said. “In the end, it’s the memory of doing something special with all your friends. They won’t truly appreciate it until later on in life. It’s a pretty amazing experience to see them do that.”

Flower Mound’s show was inspired by Dr. Seuss.

Flower Mound’s show was called “The Band Snow Inspired by the Literature of Theodore Seuss Geisel” based on what Director Brett Biskup and his staff thought Dr. Seuss would do with a marching band.

“The goal was to have fun, to have the kids smile, the audience smile and to be more lighthearted,” said Biskup, now in ninth year as director. “We just wanted to dive into something that was artistic and interesting.

“Every part of the show was supposed to be a little quirky and fun. Typically in a marching band setting you are more of a military setting which is serious and we wanted to go the other way.”

Leading the 320 marchers were drum majors Joey Risberg, Mitchell Robinson, Lila Odom, Kathir Seralaathan and Lindsay Kim.

Biskup was happy to capture the top spot for music performance for the first time in Indianapolis after Marcus and Hebron had previously received the honor.

“We push each other and we appreciate that,” Biskup said. “Marcus being so strong was great for us because it paved the way. Because the kids compete against each other and the programs are so strong it makes everyone better.”

The Marcus Band performs at the 2021 UIL 6A State Championships.

Marcus’s show was titled “The Missing Piece.” Leading the unit were drum majors Dina Bratanovic, Stella Bologna, Kenzie Knafelz and Matthew Bailey.

“We’re thrilled with the efforts of our students; their artistry, poise, and professionalism are breathtaking and inspiring,” Marcus Band Director Jeffrey Jones said on the LISD website. “It has been a joy to watch them delight audiences all season. We’re thankful for the opportunity to represent LISD, and we are forever grateful for the countless dedicated family, friends, teachers, administrators, and parent volunteers who make all things possible.”

Hebron High School, led by Director Andy Sealy, performed “PENstriped.” Hebron will perform its show twice more in the days leading up to marching in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, on Jan. 1, an appearance delayed one year by the pandemic.

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