Not that long ago, Prospect High School could be counted on not to perform at the State of Illinois Invitational Marching Band Festival at Illinois State University here in Normal. But today, they won first place in Class 5A, along with receiving recognition for best visuals and best general effect in the class.
What kept them away was a long-standing championship run at the other big marching festival in the state at the University of Illinois in Champaign. The field at Memorial Stadium there is noted as one of marching band’s deepest roots and longest traditions. The Marching Illini just made a capital letter “I” in parade formation, but that was how it all began. And they were the first to perform a halftime show as well, which they did at a University of Chicago game in 1907. With all respect to the greatness of the ISU show here, it happened there first. Prospect’s former director Dave Morrison simply decided the band would attend that festival.
And Mr. Morrison was the right person to make that decision, having been named Illinois Teacher of the Year toward the end of his career—not band teacher of the year, but Teacher of the Year in any discipline. Chris Barnum, the band’s current director, was able to bring the band here this year, though, with their performance of “Rhapsody in Red, White, and Blue.” (They still went to U of I’s festival last week, where they scored a composite of 90.33, highest in any class, but that’s another story.)
Anyway, the field of competing bands here in Normal seemed incomplete without Prospect, since festival director Dr. Dan Belongia says he invites every high school in the state. With the best bands in each class on the field here at ISU each year, it seemed fitting that Prospect should join them. And a few years ago, they were seen in Normal for the first time as a marching band. Times, they are a-changing.
The Marching Griffins from Lincoln-Way East, a perennial powerhouse of a band, took the second-place trophy in Class 5A, along with recognition for the best crowd appeal. Their show is entitled “Nocturne,” and they perform here under the direction of Clifton Smith.
And Lisa Preston directs the Marching Wildcats from Normal Community West High School, with their show entitled “Everyday Heroes.” The group also won the caption trophy for best music in Class 5A. Earlier this year, they took first place in Class 4A at the Washington Parade and Field Show and first place in Class 3A at the Danville Viking Invitational.