Thursday, March 4, 2021

BOA Grand Nationals: Lake Central, St. John, Ind.


INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 14, 2009)—One of the most significant trends in marching band over the last four or five years has been the introduction of a mini-ballet on the field, usually to pre-recorded music or narration, in place of the on-field warm-up that bands used to do.

The marching band from Lake Central High School in St. John, Ind., demonstrated this better than most bands: while most bands send a few dancers out ahead of the time when judging actually begins, I think the entire band took part in Lake Central’s pre-show ballet during their semi-finals performance at the Bands of America Grand National Championships here at the Lucas Oil Stadium. The music, chimes included, was eerie, the movement on the field distinctly slow-motion.

Musicians lay down their horns, and a solo dancer, all by herself in the middle of the field, moves about to set the mood for the band’s halftime show, entitled “The Journey Within: Conflict, Chaos, Reflection, and Redemption.”

First comes the conflict part, and that kind of blends into the chaos. Here is a bit of conflict between band members, shown with just a hint of chaos.

As the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” That comes later for Lake Central, but in the way of foreshadowing, the band eventually comes together in a huge unison block, red flags flying backfield.

Along the journey from chaos to redemption, a moment of softer reflection is born in a violin solo that serves as Lake Central’s dancing star, at least in terms of the music, perfectly capping off the middle movement. Violin solos are becoming more common these days, but the extended solo from Lake Central is a special treat, especially for those who know the show’s theme.

Violinist Yehudi Menuhin once said, “Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous.”

Waves of unanimity sweep across the band after the violoin solo, as uniforms change, slowly but with marked certainty, from a blue sash to a universal and sparkly gold sash, and the color guard changes to solid gold costumes. This is punctuated in the music with a climactic cadence, harmonic uniformity as clear as day. The band mostly stands still during the cadence, again emphasizing the artistic effect of constancy.

The marching band from Lake Central High School is directed by Chris S. Harmon, David Nelson, and Alan Buzalski, with drum majors Ben Ballas, April Echlin, and Jessica Bouma. The band has been selected 10 times as a finalist in the Indiana State School Music Association state competition.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.


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