Illinois marching band season is officially open

We know the marching bands from Illinois high schools are about to take the field when Dan Balash, who has been running the Illinois Marching Online website for several years, more than I know, posts his annual “Welcome to the Season” message.


Macomb High School, in glorious performance, Sept 17, 2011 (Voxitatis)

“There will be a myriad of features this year,” he writes about the site. “We will have some fun articles along the way, as well as some surprises that we really think you’ll like.”

As for the bands, this first Saturday, Sept 12, will bring a wide range of festivals. All of them are competitive, except for McHenry, which means the bands compete for trophies based on overall score, best music, best general effect, and so on. The competitive festivals sort bands into groups by school or ensemble size, although the classification system varies from one festival to another, depending on how many bands compete.

Especially at performances this early in the season, the weekend marks for most of the bands an opportunity to hear comments from expert adjudicators and then go back to the practice fields and rehearsal rooms to apply what those judges have said to tighten their field shows.

Details for eight of the biggest festivals are provided here. Results are coming in slowly, and this post will be updated as more information becomes available.

12 noon, Lake Park Lancer Joust

UPDATE: Coverage and Results

The following bands made the finals cut and began performing at 7:30, according to the festival’s website: John D Hersey, Greendale, Naperville Central, Lincoln-Way West, Downers Grove South, Lincoln-Way North, Victor J Andrew, Prospect, Lockport, Wheeling.

The Chicago Daily Herald posted a few pictures of Wheaton North’s performance in the preliminary competition and a brief story.

The band from Prospect High School in Mt Prospect was named grand champion at the end of the night. Voxitatis reported in May that the band had also been selected to perform in the 2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

For complete results from the Lake Park Lancer Joust, here’s the recap sheet, printed on four pages: a preliminary recap for each class 1A through 3A and the finals recap:

Schedule of Bands

12:00 — Wheaton North — “The Universe”
12:15 — Herscher — “Through a Glass Brightly”
12:30 — Wheaton Warrenville South
12:45 — Naperville Central — “No One Shall Sleep”
1:00 — Lakes Community — “This Is Our Time”
1:15 — HD Jacobs — “Among the Stars”
1:45 — Plainfield Central — “Revolution”
2:00 — Lemont — “A.I.”
2:15 — Victor J Andrew — “Black Gold”
2:30 — Lincoln-Way North
2:45 — Lincoln-Way West
3:00 — Plainfield North — “Ascend”
3:15 — John Hersey — “The Waves of Creativity”
3:45 — Greendale, Wis.
4:00 — Lockport Township
4:15 — Downers Grove South — “Beyond the Titans”
4:30 — Prospect — “In Shining Armor”
4:45 — Naperville North — “Soar”
5:00 — Wheeling — (“Billie’s Bounce”; “Birdland”; “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”)
5:15 — Lake Park (in exhibition) — “Full Spectrum”

Judging Panel

John Timmons, Mark Ponzo, Randy Isoda, & Dean Westman — music performance
Dean Westman, Randy Isoda, Mark Ponzo, & Ken Snoeck — music general effect
Paul Wiercioch, Kyle Miller, & Eric Sabach — visual performance
Eric Sabach & Kyle Miller — visual general effect
Daniel Wiles — visual commentary only (will not provide a numerical score)
Kevin Lepper — percussion
Marie Czapinski — color guard
Frank Bischoff — field manager; timing & penalties
Cam Stasa — announcer

The 37th annual Lake Park Lancer Joust takes place at the West Campus of Lake Park High School, located about three miles west of the I-290/I-355/IL-53 junction in northwest suburban Roselle. The first band takes the field at noon, and 19 will follow, including one from Wisconsin, in preliminary competition, followed by a finals competition beginning at about 7:30.

The festival marks the first field performance in the final year from Lincoln-Way North High School (other than during halftime at the school’s home football games). Although District 210 may reopen the school one day, the board approved the closure of the 8-year-old high school at the end of this school year. The band will perform at 2:30, and given this group’s quality during the too-short history of the school, they’ll likely return for the finals. The band is under the direction of Kirk Hickman and Justin Barnish.

1 PM, McHenry Marching Festival

Schedule of Bands

1:00 — Johnsburg
1:25 — Belvidere
1:50 — Marengo
2:15 — Prairie Ridge
2:40 — Rockford East — “Grease”
3:05 — Crystal Lake Central — “Latin Heat!”
3:30 — McHenry

This festival at McHenry High School, 4724 W Crystal Lake Road, McHenry, is non-competitive and is focused on providing quality feedback in an instructional setting to students and directors alike. The experienced judging panel provides written and recorded comments, and each participating band gets a 20–25 minute on-field clinic with one of the judges.

The McHenry High School marching band will be at the Chicagoland Marching Band Festival in two weeks and at several other competitive shows this year, including the Prospect Knight of Champions on Oct 3. But for their home show, there’s no competition, only learning.

1:28 PM, Washington Marching Panther Invitational

UPDATE: Coverage and Results

Paying tribute to the volunteers. Steve Stein writes in the Peoria Journal-Star that Scott and Andrea Haney, who served as field marshals at the Marching Panther Invitational, were “among 100-plus volunteers who worked at the invitational. Most volunteers, like the Haneys, were members of the WCHS Band Boosters. The invitational is the organization’s biggest annual fundraiser.” The boosters support a marching band of 187 students, one of the state’s premier marching ensembles.

Pekin High School, the paper wrote, with 123 band members under the direction of Karli McCann, performed “Phoenix Rising” for its competition show. Larry Fogelberg, who directed the Marching Dragons for many years, is Dan Fogelberg’s father. Dan wrote the famous and often-quoted song “Leader of the Band” in honor of his father.

Morton was named grand champion and took several caption trophies as well. For complete results, here’s the recap sheet:

Schedule of Bands

1:28 — Cambridge
1:42 — Dwight — “The Music Moves Us”
1:56 — Okaw Valley
2:10 — ROWVA
2:24 — El Paso-Gridley
2:38 — Rantoul Township
2:52 — Farmington
3:16 — Lincoln Community — “The Sound of Simon”
3:30 — Streator Township
3:44 — Eureka — “What If … ?”
3:58 — Metamora — “Summit”
4:12 — East Peoria — “Dimensions”
4:26 — Pontiac Township — “Heroes Fallen, Not Forgotten”
4:40 — Illinois Valley Central — “A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams”
4:54 — Olympia — “A Love Story”
5:10 — Rule of Peoria Drumline (in exhibition)
6:44 — Dunlap — “Samurai”
6:58 — Geneseo — “Young Person’s Guide”
7:12 — Limestone Community — “The Grid”
7:26 — United Township
7:40 — Centennial — “Into Darkness”
7:54 — Canton — “To Catch a Thief”
8:18 — Pekin Community
8:32 — Normal Community — “Dare to Dream”
8:46 — Bloomington
9:00 — Morton — “Open Your Eyes”
9:15 — Washington Community (in exhibition) — “Music from Phantom of the Opera”

The Marching Panther Invitational has a long history at Washington Community High School, having first been held about 30 years ago. That was on regular grass, but the district upgraded the field to artificial turf last year, after a devastating tornado struck the area the year before. The new surface provided 21 bands last year with a consistent and well-marked marching field. Bands didn’t “have to worry about how a field is mowed or if there’s a muddy or uneven surface,” band director Jim Tallman was quoted as saying in the Peoria Journal-Star.

The field of 21 bands last year tied the record for the largest number of groups in the festival’s 28-year history. This year, in the 29th year of the festival, that record falls, as 26 bands and one drumline take the field, beginning a few minutes before 1:30. In April, Voxitatis reported that the new artificial turf field at Morton High School, also near Peoria, could be expected to increase the enrollment at the festival there, once more bands find out about the artificial turf. It certainly did the trick at Washington.

3 PM, Metro East Marching Classic

UPDATE: Coverage and Results

Grand champion. Fort Zumwalt North High School took top honors at the 2015 Metro East Marching Classic. Their show was entitled “A Woman’s Work” and included four movements: The Grand Façade, See the Light, Instinct, and Top-End Empowerment.

Schedule of Bands

3:00 — St Charles West, Mo.
3:13 — Effingham — “Masquerade”
3:26 — Nashville Community — “Native Rituals”
3:39 — Newton — “The Scarecrow”
3:52 — St Charles, Mo.
4:05 — Mater Dei — “Disappear”
4:31 — Carbondale — “DREAMZzz”
4:44 — Centralia — “Shall We Dance?”
4:57 — Highland — “Pulling Strings”
5:10 — Hillsboro, Mo.
5:23 — Triad — “Queen Extravaganza”
6:13 — Pattonville, Mo.
6:26 — Fort Zumwalt East, Mo.
6:39 — Oakville, Mo.
6:52 — Fort Zumwalt South, Mo.
7:05 — Fort Zumwalt North, Mo.
7:31 — Granite City
7:44 — Francis Howell Central, Mo.
7:57 — Collinsville — “The Final Frontier”
8:10 — Francis Howell North, Mo.
8:36 — Alton — “Gotham”
8:49 — Jefferson City, Mo.
9:02 — Belleville East — “The Gallery”
9:15 — Edwardsville — “Our Sanctuary: BANDed Together”
9:28 — Rockwood Summit, Mo.
9:41 — O’Fallon Township (in exhibition) — “Between the Lines”

The Metro East Marching Classic, at O’Fallon Township High School, 600 S Smiley Street, O’Fallon, near St Louis, has a full slate of bands. About half of them come from Illinois schools, and the other half come from Missouri just across the big river.

The festival kicks off at 3 PM and won’t be over until after 10, providing more than seven hours of listening and viewing joy, including brand new uniforms for Alton Senior High School.

3 PM, Sullivan Marching Band Competition

Schedule of Bands

3:00 — Paris Cooperative
3:20 — Mt Zion — “Samurai”
3:40 — Bement — “The Magic of Harry Potter”
4:20 — Robinson — “From Sea to Shining Sea”
4:40 — Paxton-Buckley-Loda — “Phantom of the Opera”
5:00 — Sullivan (in exhibition) — “Music of the Night”

Sullivan High School, 725 N Main Street, Sullivan, about 20 miles southeast of Decatur, will host its second annual marching band festival and put the hard work of six Illinois bands on the field. After each band performs, a clinician will work with them in order to help them fine tune the performance elements in their show for the remainder of the season.

3:45 PM, AA Stagg Jamboree

UPDATE: Coverage and Results

Grand champion. As you can see from the photo, the band from Romeoville High School was named grand champion at the Stagg Marching Jamboree.


(from the band’s Facebook page)
Schedule of Bands

3:45 — Herscher — “Through a Glass Brightly”
4:00 — Elmwood Park — “Game On!”
4:15 — Coal City — “Everyone Wants to Rule the World”
4:30 — Wheaton North — “The Universe”
4:45 — Evergreen Park — “Dreams”
5:15 — Argo — “Celestial Journeys”
5:30 — Waukegan
5:45 — Waubonsie Valley — “Heroes”
6:00 — Reavis — “METAL”
6:15 — Thornton Fractional South — “The Planets”
6:30 — Glenbard West — “The Music of Queen”
7:15 — Huntley — “Everest: The Ascent”
7:30 — Joliet West — “Transformation”
7:45 — Bolingbrook — “Heroes Fallen, Not Forgotten”
8:00 — Batavia — “Square the Circle”
8:15 — Romeoville — “Midnight in Transylvania”
8:30 — Carl Sandburg — “If I Only Had…”
8:45 — Plainfield East — “Rush Hour”
9:00 — Oak Park-River Forest — “Firebird”
9:15 — Fremd — “The Hero Within”
9:30 — AA Stagg (in exhibition) — “Beyond the Sky”

Judging Panel

Pete Griffin & Jeff Waggoner — music performance
John Apple & Greg Clemons — music general effect
Robert Sanchez & Chad Quamme — visual performance
Phil Snyder — visual general effect
Joe Roach — percussion
Ryan Klassa — color guard
Brandon Lewis — timing & penalties; drum major
Kate Alstadt — tabulator
Pat Mooney — announcer

The Stagg Jamboree takes place at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, 8015 W 111th Street, Palos Hills, in Chicago’s southwest suburbs, where it has been for 36 years. The festival kicks off at 3:45 and early-season performances by 21 Illinois bands follow, including Herscher and Wheaton North, which will be joining the Stagg Jamboree after a performance at the Lake Park Lancer Joust a few hours earlier.

“We here at Stagg are honored to host the the annual Marching Band Jamboree,” wrote band director Robert Mecozzi on the school’s website. “Each participating band spends countless hours rehearsing in order to present the high-quality shows. The Jamboree is a celebration of that time and that effort.”

Saturday, Belleville East Marching Invitational

UPDATE: Coverage and Results

Rockwood Summit High School won the overall grand championship, the Belleville News-Democrat reports.

The paper also reported that Rockwood Summit led Class 4A, followed by Edwardsville, Francis Howell North, Jefferson City, Alton, and McCluer North High School.

Highland won Class 3A, followed by Wesclin and Centralia High School.

The crowd appeal award went to Francis Howell North, the News-Democrat reported.


The band from Rockwood Summit won grand championship. (home football game / Facebook)

The 11th annual Belleville East Marching Invitational occurred on Saturday, Sept 12, but details of the festival are sketchy at this time. The post will be updated as more information becomes available.

1 PM Sunday, Sept 13, Grayslake North Knights Marching Festival

Schedule of Bands

1:00 — Round Lake (in exhibition)
1:12 — Dwight D Eisenhower — “The Tell-Tale Heart”
1:24 — Marengo
1:36 — South Milwaukee, Wis.
1:48 — Lakes Community — “This Is Our Time”
2:00 — Grant Community
2:12 — Richmond-Burton — “It Just Takes Some Time”
2:50 — Antioch — “Spin”
3:02 — Rolling Meadows — “Revolution and Triumph”
3:14 — Grayslake Central
3:26 — Elk Grove — “300: The Last Stand”
3:38 — Grayslake North (in exhibition) — “The Anatomy of a Dream”

The final festival of the weekend takes place on Sunday, Sept 13, at Grayslake North High School, 1925 North Illinois Route 83, Grayslake. This festival started out very small in 2011, with just four bands. Elk Grove has been named grand champion for the last two years; they’ll be back.

We would be remiss not to mention here the tragic accidental death of a Grayslake North student, Haylie Winiewicz, on Aug 29. The marching band, football team, and Haylie’s cheerleading squad participated in a schoolwide vigil for her a little more than a week ago. Based on news reports and the memorials tweeted on her behalf, she was a passionate person, kind and loving in her nature. Once again, #playforhaylie.

About the Author

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