TOWSON, Md. (Oct 27) — Congratulations to the eight marching bands from Baltimore County high schools, each with its own philosophy about marching bands, that performed Sunday at Johnny Unitas Stadium on the campus of Towson University to the delight of a cheering crowd.
We extend our sincere thanks to Karl Stewart, supervisor in the Office of Music for the Baltimore County Public Schools, and to Towson University for their hospitality. Towson’s marching band gave a rousing, up-close-and-personal performance, and the announcer reminded those in attendance that all students who participate in the marching band receive a scholarship of between $500 and $1,000.
Voxitatis will release all pictures we took to directors of the high school marching bands photographed. A few are published here under a Creative Commons license, but in every case, we have more pictures that you might use for educational or promotional purposes. Send me an email (see our About page for more details). Note that our policies strictly prohibit the identification of students in photographs. If you use any of these photographs, please don’t provide the names, and don’t tag them on Facebook. We appreciate your understanding. The event itself is extremely newsworthy, as it pertains to fine arts in our schools, but the involvement of individual students is not newsworthy. In 12 years of marching band coverage across America, we haven’t violated this policy.
As for the story, it is our understanding, after several years of working with the schools and with professional music organizations, that when it comes to performances, everything is on the field. And if it’s not there, it’s not worth writing about. Unlike math or even a marching band competition, which this was not, the evidence of quality is in the final performance. We welcome comments to this story, but we will not allow negative remarks or any identification of students by name.
That brings us to the bands themselves, and what a show they put on!
Baltimore (Milford Mill Academy), Md.
With a loud and brassy tone, a highly effective show-style band stepped off the showcase this year. The crowd was into it from the first attack. Unlike corps-style units and most of the bands here, show-style units incorporate lots of dancing, as band members step right in with the auxiliary. It just brings the crowd along!
Baltimore (Loch Raven), Md.
The Marching Raiders didn’t have many wind players—I counted a dozen, actually—but the winds they did have were smooth, as they presented their themed show featuring Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from Disney’s The Lion King. Get it? She’s sleeping in the bed.
Baltimore (Woodlawn), Md.
The Marching Warriors from Woodlawn took the field from the side, bringing a diverse selection of music that included “Fine China” by Chris Brown and “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars. As with many show-style units, showcased in the extreme tonight by the marching band from Morgan State University, marching in step isn’t nearly as important as the driving force behind the entertainment and the sheer pleasure their well executed performance brought to this crowd. Bring it home!
Baltimore (Sparrows Point), Md.
Directed by Kennis Rolle Jr, who conducted a combined “mass band” performance of “This Is My Country” at the conclusion of the showcase, the band from Sparrows Point impressed the crowd with a very nice integration of the auxiliary units. They didn’t just have the color guard marching on one side and the band on the other. Instead, they had wind players dancing side-by-side with the auxiliary. This was no doubt designed to be highly effective, and it worked. Gets me every time!
Baltimore (Perry Hall), Md.
From the first downbeat, the sound of Perry Hall, in the ensemble, would impress anyone who knows music. The band had a wide dynamic range, awesome musicality, and pristine intonation. Add to that an incredible marimba player who doubled on the kettle drum, a tenor sax solo that morphed into a saxophone trio, trombone and mellophone soloists that had some of the sweetest sounds you might hear on a gridiron, and a cute winter wonderland theme with girls having a snowball fight, and you’re talkin’ a solid piece of entertainment.
Baltimore (Patapsco H S & Center for the Arts), Md.
The Patriot Marching Band, with expressive mellophone and trumpet soloists, simply filled the stadium with “Carry On Wayward Son,” the progressive rock single recorded by Kansas and written by Kerry Livgren for their 1976 album Leftoverture. But even before that, we had a nice trombone-mellophone duet to set the mood.
Towson had the most exciting entry of the night, I think: They marched double-time (or maybe triple-time) in two lines in what was so fast it was out of focus. But even with that one blur for the eyes, their rendition of Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” was like sharp crystal for the ears. A little jazz trumpet in the middle of a halftime show is never a bad thing!
Timonium (Dulaney), Md.
The Lion’s Roar Marching Band, directed by Robert Bone, will travel to the London New Year’s Day Parade on Jan 1, 2015, but at the showcase, the band’s 120 members performed a show entitled “James Bond 007.” Given the sound of the ensemble and the precise marching, including near-military instrument position, it’s easy to see what Councillor Catherine Longworth and the former Lord Mayor of the City of Westminster, who invited the band for the second time in four years, saw and heard.
New Town High School from Owings Mills, Md., participated in the mass band performance at the conclusion of the showcase, but the school did not perform a field show at the event.
Finally, the lesson I think we all can take home from this festival was taught to us, courtesy of the Towson University marching band, 240 strong, including three members who answered the question: Do drums still sound the same if the drummer is anchored to a device and spun, head over heels, upside down, while he’s still playing? The answer, as I now can report with no hesitation, is yes. This extracurricular activity in the rhythm section was one of the most eye-popping visual effects you’ll ever see in marching.