Post by boahistorybuff on Jul 19, 2019 11:59:23 GMT -6
...1990 SEASON REVIEW...
The first year of the new decade turned out to be a highly competitive one, both at nationals and at several of the regionals. It was becoming clear this season that building a show around a centralized theme was not just a fad. There were also several BOA competitive bands who were using drill designed by Steve Brubaker. We saw Mr. Brubaker's designs a lot in BOA through the 1992 season until his untimely passing shortly thereafter.
With no summer nationals any longer, the season opened in the fall, this year in Bloomington, Indiana with the Midwest Regional. It was won by Center Grove (IN). Center Grove had participated in the 1983 Grand Nationals but I dont think participated in BOA since. By 1990, they had become an Indiana state powerhouse. They were runner up to a few Class A state titles before winning it in 1989. This was their first regional title. They did not participate in nationals this year; they would not participate until 1993. In a close second at this regional (by just 0.05 of a point) was Carmel (IN). This was Carmel's first BOA competition. Carmel had also been on the rise in Indiana state competitions over the previous several seasons. Carmel actually won prelims and captured the Class AAA title. The scoring may have been a bit controversial in finals as the music ensemble judge gave Carmel a relatively low score (2.6 points behind Center Grove) which cost them the regional title. Carmel had actually comfortably won general effect. Carmel got revenge later in the season at the Indiana state championships when they beat Center Grove for the title. Carmel also did not attend nationals this season (they did not attend until 1994). After 1990, Carmel dropped competitively and would not reach or exceed their 1990 performance level until 1996. Had both of these bands attended nationals, I actually think Center Grove may have done better. Their show was far more difficult and in depth than Carmel so I think they would have scored better in the BOA judging system. Not too far behind in third was Lake Park (IL). A couple points behind in 4th and 5th was Northrop (IN) and Marian Catholic (IL). After winning this regional the last three season, I am sure finishing 5th was disappointing for Marian Catholic. Marian's shows were becoming more difficult, so they became a band that really did not reach their peak until right at Grand Nationals. This is why they won no regional titles the entire decade. The Houston, TX regional featured all Texas bands; likely the first BOA regional where all participating bands were from the same state. After being upset by Klein in 89, Westfield (TX) won this regional. They actually finished over 5 points higher than second place Klein (TX) and they won every single caption. Not too far behind Klein in third was Klein Forest (TX) and an up and coming band named Spring (TX) was in 4th. The Morgantown, WV regional was insanely competitive with several top notch bands participating. Kiski Area (PA) won this regional for the third time and they won by 2 points. Kiski had clearly become a top contending BOA power house. They did not attend GN this year as they ended up only attending on a two or three year rotation for the next 13 seasons. Kiski did Broadway hits; a show I would have loved to see at nationals this year as their regional performance was awesome. They also became the first band in BOA to use moveable props that also functioned as podiums for band members to perform on top of. Packed closely together (and separated by just 0.05 of a point each) in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place respectfully was Westerville South (OH), George Rogers Clark (KY) and Union (OK). Yes Union made the trip all the way from Oklahoma. In 5th place and in their very first BOA regional was West Genesee (NY), with Norwin (PA) in 6th, closely followed by Central Cabarrus (NC) in 7th. This was also Central Cabarrus's first BOA regional. Rounding out this power packed regional was Marietta (OH) in 8th and two Class A bands; New Philadelphia (OH) in 9th and Academy (PA) in 10th. The Hattiesburg, MS regional was dominated by McGavock (TN). Not only was this McGavock's first regional win, this was the first regional win for a Tennessee band. A distant 2nd by around 5 points was Grenada (MS) with East Coweta (GA) and Clinton (MS) closely following in 3rd and 4th. Not too far behind in 5th was Pearl (MS). Finally, the last regional of the season was Toledo, OH. While they held back a bit in prelims, Plymouth-Canton (MI) dominated in finals and swept the highest achievement awards. They broke 93 points, which for a regional during this era raised a few eyebrows. This was Plymouth-Canton's first regional win. The winner of prelims and the Class AAA title and runner up in finals was a new and improved Westerville South (OH). They broke 91 points which was also pretty impressive. Several points down in third was Norwin (PA), with Centerville (OH) in 4th and Flushing (MI) in 5th. For me this was a memorable regional since it was my first BOA competition that I participated in since the 88 Grand Nationals (we had a rough and tragic season in 89). We had a great show (which felt good) and picked up the Class AA title. We were hopeful at nationals but just did not have a great prelims show. We actually wanted a redo after our GN prelims performance. While we ended up in 19th place, we knew could have done better. A final point about the Toledo regional was that after three seasons of rapid decline, Chesterton (IN) had a minor comeback this season and made regional finals.
55 bands competed at the 1990 Grand Nationals. Like 89, a separate indoor percussion competition took place in the convention center and was open to any percussion ensemble who wished to participate. It was won by Center Grove (IN). Interesting that Center Grove sent a percussion ensemble to compete but the band actually did not participate in GN this year. Heading into nationals this year there was a bit of excitement about the return of Westfield (TX), not just because of their 2nd place finish in 85 but also for their success the last few seasons at both BOA regionals and in Texas UIL competitions. Even though they did not finish in the top two at the Midwest Regional (it was an early season regional after all), there was still a lot of talk about Marian Catholic (IL) and Lake Park (IL) considering what they had done at nationals the previous year. Finally, their performance at the recent Mideast (Toledo) regional also put Plymouth-Canton in the mix of potential GN champions this season. Besides these 4 bands, the roster indicated that this would indeed be a fairly competitive Grand Nationals; which turned out to be the case. Not only was it close at the top, but 4th through 7th place in finals were all determined by the narrowest of margins. The top seven bands in finals actually broke 90 points, much higher than any year prior. 14 bands were in finals as the top two scoring Class A bands from prelims did not place in the top 12. This would be the last year that bands would be advanced into Grand National finals on class. 11 different states were also represented in finals this year. This year, BOA had the two Class A bands perform first in finals. While we did not know it at the time (recap sheets were not available until after the competition as usual), but in prelims Plymouth-Canton and Westfield became the first two bands to break 96 points in BOA; PCEP received a 96.20 and Westfield a 96.00 (Westfield actually had a .3 point penalty in prelims). It turns out that in finals it would be quite a battle for the title between these two bands.
Winning their first GN title and Class AAA title by a mere 0.05 points, it was Plymouth-Canton (MI) who came out on top with a score of 95.35. This was not only their first GN win, but also the first for a Michigan band. PCEP's show was the music of Stephen Sondheim; some of his most iconic Broadway hits. Coupled with what was a solid music performance was their Steve Brubaker designed drill. The visual design and the color guard choreography were superbly matched to the music. Not only was the music clean and controlled, the visuals; marching technique, drill execution and color guard were all extremely clean. There were many sections of the show where I would say the drill execution was as close to perfection as possible. Plymouth-Canton also really put a lot of emotion into this performance. Their rendition of Send In the Clowns in this show was perhaps the best a marching band has ever played that song. I actually think that is one of the things that sold the music effect judges on their show; that and the musical phrasing which they did so well. They also had a big and dramatic finish to the show. The woodwinds picked up large flags at the end, leading to an all brass finish. Plymouth had heavy use of electric keyboards in this show (they were actually one of the most pioneering band with the use of these in the early 1990s); this of course was a little controversial at the time. It did however lead to some interesting musical sounds. This was an insanely successful year for PCEP as they went undefeated in Michigan competition, then picked up a BOA regional and Grand National title.
In second place with a 95.30 (yes the crowd gasped a little when those scores were announced) was Westfield (TX). They performed music from Copeland's Symphony Number 3. Let me just say, it was awesome. Moments of shear power and intensity interwoven with moments of softness. I am not positive, but I think they too had Brubaker doing their drill. Not only was it a solid music performance but they did the visual aspect justice too; some great drill designs and maneuvers that were well executed. The large flags at the end added to visual interest. Westfield also had some fantastic percussion moments, including the keyboards in the pit (and they were not electronic). While I doubt that it was the first time this had been done, it was the first I had seen a french horn solo at BOA. In future years, we would see more french horn solos or ensembles being featured. Another thing that had been the first time I had seen in a show was some male color guard members (I am not talking about WGI or DCI as yes they had had male colorguard members for decades). Back in 1990, it was almost unheard of to have guys in the colorguard in high school. Yes, things have come a long way and yes for the better.
Once the finals recap sheets were released, I went back and watched these two bands over and over to see how the judges came to their decisions. Plymouth-Canton had an Achilles heal this season and that was their percussion. While they had improved markedly by Grand Nationals, they were still no where near the level of Westfield's percussion. I suspect this is why Plymouth wound up 5th in music performance. Westfield won music performance (and rightly so) and they were .7 of a point higher than Plymouth's music performance score. On the visual performance front, Westfield actually won visual ensemble, but Plymouth scored much higher than them in Visual individual, giving Plymouth the Visual Performance award over Westfield. Plymouth ended up .25 points ahead in VP. For music effect, they flat out tied (one judge had Plymouth first and the other Westfield). So it came down to visual effect. As good as Westfield was on the visual front, they just were not as clean as Plymouth. Plymouth scored .5 points higher in visual effect. This gave them the General Effect award and was just high enough to pull them to victory. Many people were split on these two bands. Some who liked Plymouth's music and/or liked that their visuals were just so clean felt that Plymouth deserved to win. Others, especially the percussion enthusiasts or those who appreciated the higher degree of difficulty, felt Westfield got robbed. It was quite the debate.
In third and just around a point behind Plymouth and Westfield was Lake Park (IL). Lake Park took us to Morocco/North Africa this season. They opened with "The Wind and the Lion". It was solid. They had a very difficult visual package and they did extremely well with it. As you can imagine with this type of music, interesting (and difficult) percussion features. In fact, they had scored their highest score to date; higher than their 2nd place finish in 89. I would actually say that this show was indeed better; they were arguably another band that put forth a Grand National Champion worthy performance. I read an interesting article about some of the challenges that Lake Park faced this season. Just a week or two before nationals, they had 5 members who were deemed ineligible because they were not keeping their grades up. In 1990, Lake Park only had 125 members in the band, so loosing 5 members was a big deal. So leading into Nationals they had to adjust several of their drill designs to fill in the five holes left when these members were prohibited from participating. Watching the performance in finals, you never would have guessed that had happened; amazing.
After not attending BOA the past two seasons, West Genesee (NY) not only attended their first regional this season but they returned to Grand Nationals for their 4th finals appearance. They had reclaimed the New York state title in 1989 and defended it again in 1990; in fact they won every state title during the rest of the decade. I am sure their 5th place finish at the Morgantown regional was a bit disappointing. They made up for at Grand Nationals. They performed Les Miserables and delivered a strong finals performance (their score of just over 90 points was actually higher than their score for their top three finishes in 85,86 and 87). They ended up finishing 4th in finals. They entered BOA competition in Class AA this season (their school and community would see near stagnant growth and even some decline in population over the coming years). So they delivered an upset to Marian by winning the class title (Marian had won it since 1985).
Under the direction of Alfred Watkins, this was the first Grand Nationals appearance by Lassiter, HS from Marietta, GA (Outside of Atlanta). This would be the first of 4 GN appearances for this band spread out over a 12 year period. It also marked the first time in 10 years that a Georgia band was represented in Grand National finals. They had been a runner up at the BOA Mississippi regional in 1988, their first BOA competition. Despite how good they were, they were not a band that participated in BOA every season. Lassiter had a well respected concert band program and that translated onto the marching field in a spectacular music performance (they were actually 2nd behind Westfield). They lagged a bit behind the other top bands in terms of visual scores. Lassiter sustained a 0.2 point penalty (I am not sure what for) that actually dropped them from 4th to 5th place. Still a top 5 finish at their very first Grand Nationals was not too bad.
Marian Catholic (IL) was a bit disappointed in their 6th place finish after winning the title the last three seasons. They were still only .15 points behind 4th place. Marian kind of reinvented themselves this season. They did music from the motion picture Henry V. They did a very difficult arrangement; so close to the orchestral version. They had to have played more notes than all of the other bands. They also increased the level of difficulty/sophistication in their drill design. Their drill had a ton of symbolism in it. A lot of bands did this music in the early 90s and most of them took the battle scene very literally. Marian however used a ton of symbolism to reflect the battle scene between England and France. In one section they went from a chaotic drill design to suddenly forming the Roman numeral V and at one point they formed an M. For several years (actually over a decade I think) it became tradition for Marian to sneak an M or MC into their drill.
Just 0.05 points behind Marian in 7th place (and also with a score over 90), was Westerville South (OH). They had improved so much from the 89 season. This included being runner up at two regionals and actually finishing 3rd in prelims (their prelims performance was a bit better than finals). Their show was titled 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night'. It was somewhat dark and a little abstract, but really interesting. This kind of became their style over the coming seasons. They actually had the same uniforms as Westfield (it was hard to tell them apart without the guard).
In 8th place was Norwin (PA) in their eighth finals appearance. They again did a Disney themed show (different music from 89); heavy on the Little Mermaid song (Under the Sea). They again had a ton of props, which was still uncommon. They became affectionately known as the Disney band. This show was much more difficult from a visual standpoint and I think they struggled early in the season. They came in strong at nationals though.
Union (OK) finished in 9th place with their Spartacus show. As was usual with Union, strong percussion and stellar guard. Their color guard not only dressed the part but kind of got into character in this show. Their guard was actually a little ahead of their time in this aspect. It would certainly prove how the color guard would trend over the coming years. In other words, the guard would have an increasing role in selling the show to the audience. Their guard also had to have had a lot of conditioning as they ran and danced all over the field. This was in addition to doing some great flag work (and at one point they used chains). They were certainly deserving of the award for best Coordinated Auxiliary.
After not participating in BOA competition in 1989, McGavock (TN) had a strong season, not just in BOA. They were runners up at the MTSU Contest of Champions and won the Tennessee state title for the 4th consecutive year. After coming off their first BOA regional win, they finished 10th in finals. Their show had a nautical theme.
In 11th place with their Beatles show was George Rogers Clark (KY). They got a ton of applause when they exited the field singing "Hey Jude". The 11th place finish was not really expected from them. They kind had some rough areas musically in their show which caused them to place out of the top 10. Even in the early 90s, the band was still wearing their signature tall white busby hats.
Sliding into finals in 12th place in prelims, then placing 12th again in finals was Prospect (IL); their third finals appearance and first since 1987. During the first couple years of the 90s, Prospect actually went down to Class AA, their band also looked a bit smaller than 86/87. I am not sure if there was a temporary drop in student population or redistricting or what caused the drop. They would return to Class AAA by the mid 1990s.
Western (IN) was actually 21st in prelims but was the second highest scoring Class A band and so were advanced to finals on class. In finals they had a strong show, finishing 13th and winning the Class A title. This was their 4th Class A title and their 7th consecutive appearance in GN finals. This would end up being their last finals appearance as 1991 would see the rule change that no longer advanced bands to finals on class.
The band that was the top scoring Class A band in prelims and finished 17th overall was Adair County (KY) in their first and only appearance in Grand National finals (that is not including those times they performed in exhibition). 1990 marked the first season that Adair participated in BOA. It was highly successful for them (they made finals and were Class A champion at the Bloomington regional). Adair County had been Kentucky State Champions in their Class since 1986, so they already had a reputation as a strong small school band program. They looked to have had only around 60 members on the field (this may actually make them the second smallest band in fall Grand National finals). Despite their small size, they had a great show and really interesting drill design. They would be an infrequent participant in Grand Nationals for the rest of the decade; actually it was not until the mid 2000s that they competed at GN more regularly. It would also be another 15 years before they would finally win the GN Class A title (I kind of thought they would get it this year).
They unlucky number 13th spot in prelims would fall to Central Cabarrus (NC) who fell .4 points short of Prospect. The visual performance judges had them in finals (visual individual had them third). It was the music scores that kept them out. Not too far behind in 14th place was Centerville (OH). We were very surprised they did not make it. I think 1990 was just a bit of a rough season for Centerville. In 15th was a band that in just two seasons rocketed to the top at the Michigan State Championships (3rd in 89 and 2nd this season). That band was Jenison who was also on the rise at BOA as this was the second year in a row they finished in the top 20 at GN. Rounding out the top 20 was Marietta (OH) in 16th, of course Adair Co in 17th, Northmont (OH) in 18th, Flushing (MI) in 19th and Castle (IN) in 20th.
I have links to the top three performances (Westfield's is their prelims show). Other bands that I think are still on YouTube include; West Genesee, Lassiter, Westerville South, Union, McGavock, George Rogers Clark, Prospect and an early season performance of Adair County.
Post by boahistorybuff on Jul 26, 2019 12:37:07 GMT -6
...1991 SEASON REVIEW...
One of the notable things about this season was the large number of bands centering their show around either a musical or movie soundtrack (6 of the GN finalists bands had their shows around this type of theme). Following the trends that had been going on in DCI the previous few seasons, there were more things added to these themed shows to sell the audience on the theme. Namely, color guard costuming and choreography was more fitting to the theme. Drill designs and other items of visual interest were also added to enhance the theme of the show. That would be a trend that would continue over the next several seasons. In other words, it was becoming clear that the trend would no longer be just playing the music that the show was centered around. Shows were becoming much more of a production.
The 1991 season had five regionals. This would be the last year that fewer than six regional were held. The participation at each regional was very high (25 to 30 bands participating). Several of the regionals maxed out at 30 participating bands. So in terms of the era, these regionals were quite competitive. There were actually a few surprises/upsets at the regional championships this year. The first regional, an early season/late September regional was held in Indy. George Rogers Clark (KY) won this regional by over two points and swept the big three highest achievement awards (tied with Center Grove for music). This was GRC's first regional title. Them beating 2nd place Center Grove (IN) was a surprise. Center Grove actually went on to win the Indiana Class A state title this season (and yes we wished they would have attended Grand Nationals). After nearly winning this competition in 1990, Carmel (IN) would have to settle for 3rd. In 4th, was Northview (IN), I believe their highest finish at a BOA regional. Probably surprising was Centerville (OH) in 5th and Marian Catholic (IL) all the way down in 6th. Of course, early season regionals often had some surprises and did not always reflect how well a band would do by the end of the season. At the Toledo, OH regional, Lake Park (IL) pulled an upset over 2nd place and defending GN Champion Plymouth-Canton (MI). Despite their success the last several seasons, this was only Lake Park's 2nd regional title thus far. Closely behind in third was Westerville South (OH). In 4th, 5th, and 6th was Centerville (OH), Norwin (PA) and Flushing (MI). These three bands would end up in a competitive race to make finals at Grand Nationals (which was still over a month away at the time). The Texas regional was held in Fort Worth this season. Duncanville (TX) in their first ever BOA competition delivered a huge upset by beating 2nd place Westfield (TX) by over a half a point. Westfield had comfortably won prelims. Despite their 2nd place finish, Westfield was still really good this season; I had hoped they would attend GN this year, but no. We would have to wait until 1995 to see them return to GN. This was the third time since 1986 that Westfield was beaten in finals in a surprise after having won prelims. It was Duncanville's music scores that put them over the top. Not too far behind in 3rd was Spring (TX) with Klein Forest (TX) down in 4th. One of the finalists at this regional was LD Bell (TX) in their first BOA competition. Despite not being as competitive as compared to seasons past, the Morgantown, WV regional also had a surprising result. George Rogers Clark (KY) beat Kiski Area (PA). GRC won all the visual captions and the music effect to win by a comfortable margin. Kiski would have to settle for 2nd after having won this regional the previous three seasons. This also meant that of the 5 regionals this season, George Rogers Clark won two of them. This was the first time a band won two regionals in the same season since 1984 when Norwin had done it. This is also the only time a Kentucky band has won two regionals in the same season. Several points down in third was Norwin (PA), with Mt Vernon (VA) several points down in 4th. The winner of the last regional of the season, Johnson City, TN, was really not a big surprise. Westerville South (OH) won this regional, their first of two regional titles. They won every single caption except visual ensemble; the visual ensemble judge actually gave them a ridiculously low score. They still won by just over 1.5 points, but that gap should probably have been bigger. 1991 was the year that some South Carolina bands made some big strides in BOA. 2nd place at this regional, and in their very first BOA competition, was Fort Mill (SC) and in a close third was Irmo (SC). Probably a bit surprising was that McGavock (TN) finished 4th. Not too far behind in 5th was Norwin (PA); this being the third BOA regional they participated in this season. A couple points down in 6th was Central Cabarrus (NC).
This year, there was a big format change at Grand Nationals. Each of the three classes performed in blocks which they referred to a Class Championship Competition (most of us still just called them prelims). Each of the three class blocks had their own judging panel. Like the standard prelims in seasons past, the Class Championships took place Friday through Saturday afternoon. At the end of the class championships/prelims, an award ceremony was held. At this award ceremony, the Class Champions, top three in each class and highest achievement awards in each class were announced (yes just like the awards after semi finals today). Then the 12 bands that had the highest scores from the class championships, regardless of class, were advanced to finals (they referred to finals as the Grand Finale). Any class champion that did not make finals would be allowed to perform in exhibition in finals. The 12 bands in finals would then compete for Grand National Champion. So yes, it was possible that the Grand National Champion may not have been the winner of their class, which we all found really odd at the time. Unlike years prior, this format did give us all some better insight as to who may be in contention for the Grand National title.
A total of 59 bands competed in this Grand Nationals which was the highest to date. Heading into Grand Nationals, there was a lot of talk about George Rogers Clark, seeing as they had won two regionals. Lake Park and Duncanville were also being talked about. At the end of the Class Championships, it became a little more clear as to who would be in contention for the GN title; it was looking like Plymouth-Canton, Lake Park, Kiski Area and Marian Catholic would be in contention. During the class awards ceremony, the Class AAA title was won by Plymouth Canton (MI), who won visual and general effect. Lake Park (IL) was second but won no captions. In third was Spring (TX) and the winner of the music performance was Duncanville (TX) who came up short of making the top three. In the Class AA awards, Kiski Area (PA) was crowned AA Champion, the first time they won this GN class title. Marian Catholic (IL) was second. It turns out that Kiski and Marian actually tied for first. Kiski had the higher General Effect score which broke the tie. Marian did however win music and visual performance. West Genesee (NY) was third. After winning two regionals, we were surprised the George Rogers Clark did not finish in the top three in Class AA (they ended up 4th). The Class A championships featured a huge surprise. Academy (PA) delivered an upset and won the Class A title over 2nd place Western (IN). In their strongest showing at Grand Nationals, Illinois Valley Central (IL) was 3rd in Class A. Western won music and visual performance. For some reason the music and visual effect judges were simply not kind to them and cost them the class title by just under a half point. This was the first and only Class A title for Academy. They had shown steady improvement leading into this season. While they did not make GN finals, they would perform in exhibition. After this season, Academy HS closed. The marching band program essentially moved to Erie Central and remained a successful Class A band for the next couple seasons (were actually runner up to the Class A title in 1993). I believe additional schools were merged into Erie Central as they eventually became a Class AAA band. They did not have as much success however as a larger school band program. As for Western, this would be the last year they would participate in BOA for 19 years. They did however remain a strong Indiana powerhouse in their class.
Before I get into the finalists, there were several notable things about nationals (and finals) this season. First off, this was the only year that all of the regional champions from the current season attended Grand Nationals (albeit there were only five) and they all made finals. Ironically, the top three bands in finals each did not win their respective regional. 1991 was the only year since fall Grand Nationals began in 1980 that no Indiana bands were in finals. This is not because Indiana bands could not have made finals, it was because the top Indiana bands of the day (like Center Grove, Carmel, Ben Davis, Northrop, Lawrence North, Homestead, etc) were still not attending Grand Nationals. There was an indoor percussion competition held again this year. Center Grove sent a percussion ensemble again even though their band did not participate. I actually do not remember who won the percussion competition; I think it was either Center Grove or West Genesee. The finalists bands this year also consisted of 6 Class AA bands, the most Class AA bands in finals at one time. This was actually highly controversial because it was quite obvious that the Visual Effect judge for the Class AA Championships scored bands too high, while the Visual Effect judge for the Class AAA championships scored bands much too low. Now that said, this year did feature all of the strong Class AA bands in the country (with the exception of Fort Mill, SC). No other year has been as competitive in Class AA as this year. Going back to the judging, there were also a lot of other questionable judging decisions. Looking at the scores, some bands would get a score that seemed way too low from one judge and then way too high from another. I am not sure when a chief judge was brought in, but this year certainly needed it. While I think the overall outcome in finals was fair, there was still a lot of variation in scores among the judging panel. I do think at this time, the idea of having a separate judging panel for each of the three classes in prelims was really being questioned.
From a personal point of view, this was my senior year. Ever since I was a freshman, our band had a lot of ups and downs. We had a lot of improvement in our show the couple weeks leading into nationals and we gave a really good performance in prelims. We were hopeful of making finals but not really expecting it. So when we were told we made finals, there were a lot of tears in the band. Yes, marching onto the field in finals and seeing that crowd in the stands was a rush of nerves and adrenalin that I will never forget.
From the results of the Class awards, I was kind of thinking that Plymouth-Canton (MI) would pull off another victory. Sure enough, they won and defended their 1990 title. Their show took some time to come together this season. They ended up peaking right at Grand Nationals. Like Marian, this became common for PCEP. They did another Sondheim show this year; from the musical "Sunday in the Park With George". I have to imagine that this was a difficult music to put forth on the field; several odd tempo changes and even moments when the band was not playing but yet still marching. Also some very difficult flute sections; which they did well. This musical was about a painting. The show opened with a student dressed as a painter who gave an amplified vocal narration. This was the first instance of vocal narration as being part of the show (note: Northmont, OH had some recorded vocal narration in their Wizzard of Oz show this season). Although not quite as clean as their 1990 show, they still had a strong performance; very clean visually. The last few segments of the show built to this grand finish and included some fantastic (Steve Brubaker) drill moves. I would say the ending of that show really boosted their effect scores; not only winning them the General Effect award but pulling them into 1st place. While they had a much stronger percussion section this year, their music performance score was still relatively low thanks to the music individual judge. Nonetheless, PCEP really sold this show and they won by .8 of a point. They also won the coordinated auxiliary award; likely helped by all of the dance moves their color guard did. While not as clean as their 1990 guard; there was no Union (OK) guard to contend with this year.
When Marian Catholic (IL) began their shows, even back in the early 90s, the audience got a little quieter. They were listening extra closely. This was not only because of all the GN titles that they already had under their belt, but it was also because their music was so much more intricate, nuanced, and difficult than all of the other bands. You really wanted to listen to hear what was all going on musically. This season, after finishing 6th in an early season regional and being runner up to the Illinois State title, Marian Catholic finished 2nd in finals, proving not to ever count them out of being a contender. They did music from the 1978 animated film "The Lord of the Rings". The music seemed so fitting to Marian's style and as usual, they did not stray too far from the orchestral version. In addition to their strong music, they were moving almost continuously during this show. They had one section where the brass did the triple tongue technique. Now I am not sure if they were the first BOA band to do this (they probably were), it was the first I had ever heard this done by a high school marching band. It is something I have only seen the strongest bands be able to pull off. I think had some parts of this show been just a touch cleaner, they may have been able to pull off a victory.
Coming off their Class AA win from prelims, Kiski Area (PA) wound up third in finals. Their show was based on the music of the Beatles. There were several high school bands that did Beatles music during this era. Noone did a better job with it than Kiski. A solid show and very entertaining. They gave a really strong show from a visual stand point in finals. I think their prelims show was a touch better musically (on the Kiski band page they actually feature the video from the class championships and not finals). In fact, I would say that had they given the music performance they had given in prelims with the visual performance in finals, they could have been in contention for the title.
After seeing them in Toledo, I was actually thinking that Lake Park (IL) would win the title this year. They were not too far off from PCEP for the Class AAA title in prelims. They had the unfortunate luck of the draw and had to perform 1st in finals. Their show took us to Spain this year; man the guard and pit had wore some detailed costumes. The music was just really good; so much intricate detail and some very demanding percussion moments. I just loved the Latin flair in the music. I probably would not have been surprised if they had scored/placed a little higher than their 4th place finish.
This was the best season in BOA for George Rogers Clark (KY). Not only did they win two regionals this season, they finished fifth in finals (by a mere 0.05 points ahead of 6th). Their show had some guitar features that were really interesting. They gave one solid performance from a visual standpoint. They had interesting and well executed drill (3rd in visual effect behind PCEP and Marian). Their crisp and clean marching style earned them the award for best visual performance. Through GRC's late 80s/early 90s glory years, their music performance scores were typically their Achilles heal. What made this great (in addition to the visuals) was that they probably had their best season ever from a music standpoint (the music ensemble judge actually had them 1st). Fifth would be the highest finish GRC would achieve at nationals.
This was the first of what would be two finals appearances by Duncanville, from the town by the same name outside of Dallas, TX. Duncanville had become a Texas powerhouse by the late 80s/early 90s. They had already won multiple UIL state titles in their Class. This was their first year competing in BOA and their most successful. Not only with a regional title but also finishing 6th in finals; their highest finish. During the early 90s, the average size of a GN finalist band was probably in the 150 to 170 range; this season there were about 4 or 5 bands in finals who had less than 150 members. So when Duncanville took the field, the audience was in awe of their size. Duncanville is the largest band to have been in Grand National finals. While I think their 93 band looked a bit bigger, the 91 band must have had somewhere between 380 and 420 members. There were times in their show where they were end zone to end zone; we almost felt sorry for the two field judges. Duncanville had a more traditional (old school) style show than most BOA bands at the time. I still liked it and I liked that it added some variety to the mix of finalist bands. The one thing that stood out about Duncanville other than their size, was their music performance. They played not only with great power but also with a rich sound. With all of those band members, they had a solid and clean ensemble quality. They won the music performance award; the second year that a Texas band won this. So by 1991, Texas bands already had a reputation of having excellent music quality. While they still had a good show from a visual standpoint and managed to move around the field quite a bit despite their size, their marching quality/execution was not quite to the level of the top bands in finals. This is what cemented their 6th place finish.
In a very close 7th place was West Genesee (NY). They were the only finalist band this year that did not participate in a BOA regional. They reprised their show "Les Miserables" from 1990. They did a little different music arrangement and had a different drill design. The color guard wore attire more fitting the theme. This was a solid and enjoyable performance. As usual, they had a strong and exceptionally clean percussion section; including the keyboards. Had an award for percussion been given out in finals, I would have expected them to be the top contender for it. This was their 5th finals appearance. We would have to wait 4 years for them to attend Grand Nationals again.
In 8th place was Spring from Spring, TX (north of Houston). They broke 90 points which meant 8 bands scored over 90 points in finals. There was actually a fairly big performance gap between 8th and 9th place this year (probably not reflected as much as it could have been in the scores). Spring was under the direction of Bill Watson. In 1991, Spring was very much a band on the rise. This was their first appearance at Grand Nationals. They did a show based on music from a famous Russian Ballet. Classical music would be a big part of their identity. This marked the first time that more than one Texas band was in finals. Unlike Duncanville, Spring's show was much more current in terms of the style in BOA/DCI; including intricate and somewhat difficult drill moves. I did not know it at the time, but Spring would make a very big statement in just a couple years.
This year marked the first year that a South Carolina band made finals. In 9th place was Irmo HS, from Columbia, SC. Despite their placing third at the NC regional this season, they were 22nd in GN prelims in 1990. So they did not seem to be a sure bet finalist band. Well they had an exceptional show at nationals this year. They did music from "Miss Saigon". It was highly enjoyable and very well done. The show opened with a guard member doing a tumbling pass. The guard was also decked out in attire fitting the Vietnamese theme of this musical. This would be the first of three finals appearances from Irmo. This 9th place finish was also their highest ever. In addition to their success in BOA, the early 90s was the start of over a decade long dominance in South Carolina state competition in their class for this band.
From what some of the band told us, Westerville South (OH) felt they had a better performance at the TN regional (which they won and beat Irmo). Nonetheless, they finished 10th in finals. Their show featured music of "Scenes From Mehlville" which was based on the novel Moby Dick. I thought it was still a great show and had some moments of high intensity. Perhaps just not quite as clean as they needed to be to place higher.
In 11th place, with our show from the move "Henry V" was Flushing (MI). We gave a strong show in prelims to make finals (I actually wish our prelims show was on You Tube). Despite a few rough patches here and there, we had a crowd pleasing show in finals. Not only was our guard in costume, but we altered our uniforms a bit to fit the theme. We also used moveable props which functioned as podiums for performers; guard, brass and snare drums, throughout the show. This was the first instance of props being used in this way in Grand Nationals (Kiski did something similar at the 1990 Eastern Regional). This was our 6th and last appearance in finals. In 1992, our drill designer wrote the drill for the incorrect number of performers. The drill was rewritten at the start of the season and sent Flushing back a few weeks, which they just could not recover from. They did make regional finals and finished third in the state. Following 1992, Flushing just did not have the financial means to stay competitive with the top level BOA bands or even the top bands in Michigan. This was not just having the funds to dump into the marching band program but also supporting the elementary/middle school feeder programs. The marching band director was tasked with also having a heavy hand in the elementary program. Over the next couple of decades, a lot of mid sized schools (Class AA) would find themselves in similar circumstances as larger and more affluent school districts started pumping out national caliber marching band programs. Flushing went down to Flight 2 in Michigan competition in 1994 (where they were second to Reeths-Puffer). Flushing has however maintained a competitive band program and has been a finalist in Flight 2 state finals every year since 94. Our director, Mr Ayotte left the program after the 97 season. This ushered in a period of frequent changes in directors and the size of the band dropped to under 80 members (in 1991 we were up to 125 members). After 1992, Flushing made regional finalsjust once more in 1996 and their last BOA performance was at the 2004 BOA Pontiac regional.
Sliding into finals in 12th place in prelims and then finishing 12th in finals was Central Cabarrus (NC). Their show was "Jesus Christ Superstar", yes another musical. As usual with Central Cabarrus, they had a strong performance from a visual standpoint (a little rough in a few parts musically). This was their third appearance in finals and sadly their last. They maintained a strong competitive program through the rest of the decade, making finals at several regionals and almost making finals in 1993. During the 2000s, they too had a decline in their program. They have returned to BOA this decade as a participant in a few of the North Carolina regionals. Their program is just not to the level of what it was during the late 80s and 90s. This 12th place performance by Central Cabarrus also marked the last time a North Carolina band has been in Grand National finals.
In the unlucky 13th place this year was another Class AA band, Jenison (MI). They actually won the Michigan Flight 1 State title this year over Plymouth-Canton and Flushing. A little context; it poured rain at the Michigan State Championships this year. Before the Flight 1 bands performed in finals, the field was so muddy and slippery, it was deemed unsafe to march on. So the Flight 1 bands stood on the track and performed a stand still music-only judged performance in the pouring rain. Jenison won in this format. Jenison's show this year features a collection of songs under the title "Good VS Evil". This was an early example of a band giving a name to their show and tying the various music selections together by drill design and color guard costuming. This would become a growing trend over the coming several seasons.
In 14th this year; in their third attempt to make finals, was Grenada (MS) another Class AA band. In a surprising 15th place was Centerville (OH). This was very controversial because they had a ridiculously low visual effect score. One of the music effect judges also scored them a bit too low. In all honesty, I really think they were denied a finals appearance this year due to bad judging. They had a great and entertaining show and should have been in. Prospect, IL was 16th and another surprise Norwin (PA) in 17th. The same visual effect and music effect judges who score Centerville really low, scored Norwin even lower. While I think it is debatable as to whether Norwin should have been in finals, I know that Norwin was not happy. Interesting that in 1992 they did not participate in any BOA competition, the only year since the late 1970s that they have not participated in BOA. Rounding out the top 20 are Marietta (OH) in 18th, Parkway West (MO) in 19th and Northmont (OH) in 20th.
In addition to Plymouth Canton, some of the other finals performances that are on line include; Kiski Area, Lake Park, George Rogers Clark, West Genesee, Irmo (early season), Westerville South and Flushing.
Post by boahistorybuff on Aug 6, 2019 20:04:21 GMT -6
...1992 SEASON REVIEW...
This season the number of regionals was increased from 5 to 7. It had not been since 1985 that this many regionals were held in one season. This included having 2 regionals in the southeast and for the very first time having 2 regionals in the state of Texas. The first regional of the season was again at Indianapolis, IN in late September. This was probably the most competitive regional to date; even more competitive than some of the Morgantown regionals of prior seasons. I think it was probably somewhat a shame that such a competitive regional was held so early. Had this regional been held in late October or early November, I am sure the results would have been completely different. The winner of the regional was George Rogers Clark (KY) who actually won by a comfortable margin. During the early 90s, GRC was a band that came in strong in early season competitions. However, they tended to reach a plateau mid season. This was GRC's third and last regional title. Centerville (OH) was comfortably in 2nd while Center Grove (IN) and Westerville South (OH) were neck and neck in 3rd and 4th. 5th and 6th place went to Marian Catholic (IL) and Lake Park (IL). Homestead (IN) was 7th. Homestead attended the MBA Whitewater Nationals in the late 70s and early 80s but had not attended BOA since. This year actually marked a turning point for Homestead as they moved up to Class A in Indiana State Competition and won the Class A state title; their first time winning this. Clustered down in 8th, 9th and 10th place were Northview (IN), Lawrence North (IN) and Carmel (IN). A big surprise was that Northrop (IN) just missed finals, finishing 11th in prelims; I believe the first time they had failed to make regional finals. They would make up for at nationals this season. The next regional of the season was Toledo, OH. From what I understand, there were conflicts with a lot of Ohio bands this weekend. So it was heavily dominated by Michigan bands. We even joked that it was like an early season state championships as all of the strongest Michigan bands of the day were in attendance. Plymouth-Canton (MI) of course dominated, winning by 4 points for their 2nd regional title. In a heated race for 2nd and 3rd was Lakeland (MI) and Jenison (MI). Despite receiving a .6 point penalty, Lakeland edged out Jenison. Lakeland had also nabbed the Class AA title from prelims. This was Lakeland's highest finish at a regional. Severe points down and clustered in 4th, 5th and 6th were all Michigan bands; Durand Area, Flushing and Mona Shores. The Morgantown, WV regional had 5 strong performances at the top; all of whom were clustered together in scores. There was a big scoring gap between 5th and 6th. Kiski Area (PA) won this regional with their show from the musical "City of Angels". The music was jazz and they proved that Centerville was not the only band that could do jazz. Kiski simply had a spectacular show. Speaking of Jazz, Centerville (OH) was not too far down in 2nd and actually won the GE award. This was the second highly competitive regional this season where Centerville was runner up to the title. Tightly clustered in 3rd, 4th and 5th were George Rogers Clark (KY), Westerville South (OH) and Marietta (OH). The Houston, TX regional had Westfield (TX) and Spring (TX) battling it out for the title. Westfield edged Spring out for this, their 6th regional title at the time. Spring would have to settle for 2nd. The Klein IDS schools rounded out the top 5; Klein in 3rd, Klein Forest in 4th and Klein Oak in 5th. While Spring was runner-up at this regional, they actually beat Westfield for the Texas UIL state title later in the season. Spring did "New World Symphony". Not only was it well played, they had awesome drill design. Steve Brubaker designed their drill; this was not too long before his passing. I would actually say the 92 Spring band had the best drill of any high school band of the decade. Had Spring attended nationals this year, I have no doubt they would have been in contention for the title. Now Westfield's show was still good. Even though they did not have Brubaker drill this year, their drill was still very intricate. The Johnson City, TN regional was won by Alan C Pope (GA). This was Pope's first ever BOA competition. It would also be their first and only regional title and marked the first time in 12 years that a Georgia band won a BOA regional. Fort Mill (SC) wound up 2nd at this regional for the second straight year. In third was Adair County (KY). Had Adair County attended nationals this year, they would have no doubt been in contention for the Class A title. The 2nd Texas regional this season was held in Denton. Duncanville (TX) won, this their 2nd regional title. Their music pushed them ahead of 2nd place The Colony (TX). Second would be the highest finish ever at a BOA regional for The Colony. LD Bell (TX) was in third. Bell would have a very slow rise during the remainder of the decade. In 4th and in their very first BOA competition was Leander (TX). Leander was obviously a smaller school back then; they were the Class AA champion at this regional. They were not AA for long as a growing population put them into Class AAA by the middle of the decade. The last regional of the season was Hattiesburg, MS. JM Tate (FL) won this regional, their 5th and final regional title. In a close 2nd was Clinton (MS). Clinton actually won prelims. This 2nd place finish was the closest Clinton would ever get to a regional title. Probably in a big surprise was that Lassiter (GA) was third. Lassiter actually sustained a .6 point penalty which dropped them from 2nd to 3rd.
The trend over the last couple of years continued at Grand Nationals this year which was that there was an increase in the number of bands attending. This year 63 bands attended Grand Nationals. The format remained unchanged from 91 with each of the three classes having a separate judging panel. Unlike 91, I think the overall judging among the classes was fair this year. This year did not feature as many top contending bands for finals as years prior. While there were still strong shows near the top, this was reflected a bit by the bottom half of scores in finals being lower than the past couple seasons. An indoor percussion competition was again held this season. I do not know who won it and I actually do not know how many more years after this that they continued the indoor percussion competition. In Class AAA, Plymouth-Canton (MI) won their third consecutive Class AAA title. In 2nd (and winning visual and tying PCEP in music) was Centerville (OH). After seeing the recaps, we realized how close this actually was. Centerville received a .2 point penalty. Their pre-penalty score actually tied them with PCEP. Plymouth had the higher GE score so they would have been awarded the 3A title anyway. The winner of the 3A general effect award (which was a bit of a surprise) and 3rd in Class AAA was Westerville South (OH). In Class AA, Marian Catholic (IL) was comfortably in 1st. This was Marian's first Class AA title since 1989. Marian had also won visual and GE. In second was George Rogers Clark (KY). Third place in 2A went to Marietta (OH) who tied Marian in visual. The winner of the 2A music performance award (which was a bit surprising) was Jenison (MI) who ended up 4th in Class AA. The Class A scoring was a bit all over the place among the top bands. Pulling off the win and winning the visual award was Owen Valley (IN). This was their first and only GN Class title. Owen Valley had a lot of success during the 1990s. In 1994 they actually picked up an Indiana state title in their class. The following season, Owen Valley moved up to Class AA in BOA competition. They remained a solid program for much of the rest of the decade. Winner of the Class A GE award and 2nd overall was an up and coming Ohio band; Bellbrook. In a close third was Marlington (OH), who had been a solid small school program for near a decade. The winner of the Class A music award and 4th overall in class was Boyle County (KY). So upon the conclusion of the class championships/prelims, I suspected (as most did) that Plymouth-Canton was going to three-peat this year. Even though from the caption awards we figured the scores were close, I think the general thought was that Plymouth would pull it off in finals. Boy were we wrong.
At the conclusion of finals and prior to the awards ceremony, I was thinking to myself that Plymouth and Marian were really good, but I thought the Centerville Jazz Band had the best performance. I simply thought that no way would the judges give it to a band that had not made finals the previous two seasons. Well, I was wrong and I can honestly say that I think the best band did win. Centerville (OH) became the first band in BOA history to win the Grand National title after having failed to make finals the previous season. After not making finals in 90 and 91, Centerville set out this year to leave no doubt among the judges that they deserved to be in finals. That led them to have a significant improvement this season. It actually looked as though this would be a season of being runner-up to everything; runner up to two BOA regional titles and the GN Class AAA title. They pulled it off in finals, winning their first and only Grand National title (still under the legendary director Wayne Markworth). To this day, they remain the only Ohio band to have won the title. Their show was "The Tower of Power" and featured Down to the Nightclub, You're Still a Young Man and What is Hip. They gave one solid music performance; so good and so enjoyable. They had also made significant strides in their marching; so clean and such solid drill execution. To top it off, they had a world class colorguard; it was great to see rifles (in the early 90s rifles seemed to becoming an endangered species in the BOA circuit). Centerville had some amazing soloists throughout the show; also great electric bass and organ in the opener. The ending featured a baritone saxophone feature (it was a Centerville trademark for the saxophone soloists to wear sunglasses). When the whole band joined in for the finals push, many in the audience rose to their feat before the show even ended. They just rocked that closer. While the music ensemble judge placed them 1st, the music individual judge had them 10th. Not sure what that judge heard on the field that they did not like. Actually quite unusual to see this big a gap between these two judges in finals. All of the music and visual effect judges had them 1st. That not only won them the GE award but boosted their score enough to place them first. During the awards, once Marian had been announced 2nd, the Centerville band and parents could not contain themselves. They went nuts; tears of joy. It was one of the strongest reactions I had seen of a band and the parents to winning the Grand National title. And think about; they had failed to make finals the previous two seasons and then won by beating the two bands who had collectively won it the last 5 years.
Marian Catholic (IL) gave a very good finals performance and only finished .3 points behind Centerville. Their show was titled "Visual Panels on the Music of Samuel Barber, Aaron Copeland and Leonard Bernstein". As you can imagine a ton of great music in this show, brilliantly arranged by Mr. Bimm. They also gave I would say their best show from a visual standpoint since their late 80s championship years. In fact, their visual performance score was only 0.05 points away from tying GRC for the visual award. This was Marian Catholic's 9th finals appearance, besting Norwin's eight and meaning that Marian was now the band with the most Grand National finals appearances.
I will admit, it was a bit surprising to hear Plymouth-Canton (MI) announced in third during the awards. They took on Stephen Sondheim for the third strait year, this time doing the musical "Sweeny Todd". They took this show were no other high band would dare to go at the time. Highly theatrical with amplified vocals and a ton of electric keyboard nuances. The guard was dressed as demon barbers, complete with a ton of make up (they actually cleaned up and dressed in formal wear for the award ceremony). There was also a section in the show where a murder scene was enacted in a barber chair. For 1992, that was a bit controversial and raised several eyebrows among parents. Amidst all of the frills, this was still a well performed show. They won the music performance award in finals (the one award that had eluded them the previous two seasons). I believe they had a few electronic glitches in finals. Also, I just don't think the show was quite as strong as their prelims performance.
I heard members of Westerville South (OH) in 1991 say they felt their show was a bit boring. They could not say that about their 1992 show "In the Springtime When Kings Go Off to War". Back in 1992, there were no preshows, Chuck was still asking the drum majors if their band was ready. Westerville timed the opening of the show to when Chuck asked if the band was ready, bam the sound from the band hit you. It was awesome and perhaps the very first example of a preshow. Overall, this show was fast paced and just in your face. A lot of loud moments that were not overplayed. The large colorful striped flags in the opening also added to the intensity. This show was an audience pleasing show and earned Westerville South 4th place. It also marked the first of three awesome seasons for this band.
Lake Park (IL) wound up 5th place. They stayed with a Latin theme this year and took us to South America this season; specifically Argentina and Brazil. This show was quite difficult and I suspect given their placement at the Indy regional took some time for them clean. This show had a ton of interesting and difficult percussion moments. I think there was one section where some brass played some bongos. A few of the band members also did some dance in sections of the show; quite innovative back in 1992. At the end, streamers were shot out of cannons in quite dramatic fashion, like we were partying in Rio.
In 6th place was George Rogers Clark (KY) who took on the music of Blood, Sweat and Tears; not easy music. 1992 was a big year for jazz in BOA. Typical of GRC, they had exceptional quality to their marching and won the visual performance award by narrowly edging out Marian. However, they did not get the visual award in class championships/prelims. This was the third time they won this award at national finals. This was GRC's 6th and sadly last appearance in Grand National finals (actually the last year they attended nationals). I am not certain what happened to them in 1993, I just know that they appeared a little smaller and just did not have the musical performance as prior years. They were finalists at two regionals in 93 but placed down near the bottom. Their director, Jeff Hood, left the program in 1995 (he went on to direct Paul Laurence Dunbar to three regional titles in the 2000s). So the program at GRC went into decline during the rest of the decade. Over the last two decades, they have remained competitive on the KMEA circuit. They have also been occasional participants at BOA regionals; making finals a few times. GRC just has not been able to return to the level of success they experienced from the 1970s to early 1990s.
Back in 1992, I would have thought it impossible to make Grand National finals after failing to make finals at a BOA regional. Northrop (IN) who finished 7th in finals proved that it was indeed possible after they missed finals at the Indy regional. This marked the first time Northrop even attended Grand Nationals since 1985, despite being a frequent BOA regional finalist. After the disappointment at regionals and a rather disappointing finish in the Indiana Class A state finals this year, they certainly came into nationals with some determination. They had a difficult show (perhaps took them some time to perfect this season) and delivered a strong performance (both in prelims and finals). The music selections seemed a bit more of the style from the early-late 80s but the visual design was still very current. I thought this performance was even better than their 6th place performance in 1985.
Lawrence North (IN) returned to Grand Nationals this year, their first trip since 1989 and finished 8th. From what I understand, LN had a strong season in 1991 and decided to give nationals a go this season. They slid into finals by finishing 11th in prelims but bounced up to 8th in finals with a strong show. Like Northrop, their music program seemed a bit more fitting of the mid/late 80s. It was still well played and they also had a relatively current visual package. This was Lawrence North's 4th and last GN finals performance. They had a somewhat slow but steady decline through the rest of the decade and into the 2000s. They remained occasional BOA participants and regional finalists and made Grand National semi finals on a few occasions. As LN went into decline, their sister school Lawrence Central rapidly rose to prominence both in BOA and ISSMA. Interestingly, Lawrence Central was scheduled to attend Grand Nationals this year and were even in the program book. Not sure why they backed out last minute.
This was by far the best season for 9th place Marietta (OH); 92 was a good year for Ohio bands. Marietta was a finalist in 1987. Since then they had remained perennial regional finalists and had consistent top 20 finishes at Nationals. This season their show was "Gloria". Not only extremely well played, very well marched and clean. This was simply the best show that the Marietta 'Wall of Sound' had ever done. You could also tell they were surprised by their 9th place finish; yes their highest ever at nationals. This was the second and sadly last finals appearance for Marietta. The next season, 1993, turned out to be their worst of the decade. At GN in 1993, they finished 44th (although some judging issues were partly to blame). This is the biggest placement drop for a finalist band from one season to the next. They improved by 1994 and through the rest of the decade remained a consistent regional finalist and made semi finals several times in the late 90s. In the early 2000s, their longtime director Marshall Kimball left and the program went into decline. He obviously was a big part of their success. They have remained frequent BOA participants ever since.
Despite not attending regionals this season, Irmo (SC) made finals for the second consecutive year. They too would not be so lucky in 1993 when they failed to make finals (placing 22nd). They had a few ups and downs in BOA through the rest of the decade. They did remain a South Carolina powerhouse. This would not be Irmo's last Grand National finals appearance. We would see them in finals again in nine years.
While California bands had had a lot of success at the Whitewater, WI June nationals (remember in the 70s when Whitewater was the Grand Nationals, Live Oak (CA) won twice), this was the first year a California band attended the fall Grand Nationals. Etiwanda, from Rancho Cucamonga, CA (east of Los Angeles) made finals and finished 11th. This was their first BOA competition, given a BOA western regional had not been held since 1988. It would turn out that this would only be the start of Etiwanda's success in the BOA circuit and the first of three finals appearances. I had heard that California bands were notable for their guards and percussion given the active WGI and Indoor Percussion circuits in the state. Etiwanda proved this to be the case and they won the award for best coordinated auxiliary.
Prior to 1992, the Jenison HS, from Jenison, MI (outside Grand Rapids), school district would only allow their band to attend one out of state competition. They chose to attend Grand Nationals. The school relaxed that restriction this season, so Jenison attended their first BOA regional. Perhaps this helped them a bit as after just missing finals the previous two seasons, they finished 12th in prelims to make finals for the very first time. They again finished 12th in finals. This would be the first of two finals appearances for Jenison. This year would however mark the first of dozens of appearances in regional finals for this band.
The unlucky 13th spot went to Castle (IN) this year; in I believe their first trip to nationals. The effect judges actually comfortably had them in finals. The music individual and visual ensemble judges were however brutal to them, which is what kept them out; dropping them .35 points behind Jenison. In fact, Castle's total General Effect score tied for 5th highest out off all bands in prelims. I think they hold the record for the band having the highest ranked general effect score that failed to make finals. It turns out it would end up being many years before Castle would finally be a Grand National finalist. Seminole (FL) was in 14th. Turns out they were very much on the rise in the early 90s. 15th, 16th and 17th went to Mona Shores (MI), Lakeland (MI) and Flushing (MI). This made 5 Michigan bands in the top 20, the most ever. In 18th was Fort Mill (SC) in their first trip to nationals. This was surprising given their success at regionals. I would have thought they were a finalist contender. Perhaps they had a rough prelims performance. Parkway West (MO) was in 19th. This was the closest a Missouri band would get to finals until Blue Springs over two decades later. Rounding out the top 20 in 20th was Northmont (OH).
I will include a link to Centerville's finals performance and the 1992 finals awards ceremony. I am also including Spring's UIL performance. While not a BOA event, just a great example of some superb early 90s drill design. Some other finalist videos that may still be on line include; Lake Park, Northrop, Marietta and Jenison. Irmo and Etiwanda have some early season performances.
Post by boahistorybuff on Aug 16, 2019 16:58:04 GMT -6
...1993 SEASON REVIEW...
During the last 4 to 5 decades of BOA, there has been an overall near steady increase in the performance quality of the high school marching bands competing at BOA. While it is hard to compare a show of say the 1980s or 90s to those of today given they are so different stylistically, there is no question that the music and visual performance of the marching bands of today are so much better than in decades past. In these write ups I try to talk about the quality of the programs in terms of the era in which they took place. Shows that just slid into finals 25 to 40 years ago would simply not stand a chance in today's competitive environment. I would argue they may even struggle to make semi finals today. For instance, if I had watched the 2018 Grand Nationals finals 30 years ago, my jaw would probably be on the ground. Now this overall improving trend was not linear. In some years, the top level programs all seemed to get notably better. That would be how I would describe 1993. It was like all the bands upped their game. Drill designs, now much more asymmetrical than symmetrical, got increasingly more difficult. A lot more dance was being infused into the color guard performances and the color guards as a whole seemed much better than in years past. There was also a lot of innovations on the BOA circuit this year. This all culminated in one spectacular Grand National finals show this year.
First off, of course, were the BOA regionals. The number of regionals held this season was cut back to six. These six regionals were all well attended and fairly competitive. The first regional of the season (late September) was again in Indianapolis, IN. Centerville (OH) won this regional (by over 2 points) and swept the highest achievement awards, proving that the 92 season was no fluke. This was Centerville's second regional title and first regional win since 1987. In a solid 2nd was Center Grove (IN) with Homestead (IN) not too far behind in 3rd. Westerville South (OH) was 4th and Northrop (IN) was 5th. Northrop made sure they would not be missing regional finals as they did in 92. 6th place was Marian Catholic (IL); their shows being so difficult it typically took them until late season to perfect them and score/place higher. This was the regional that Carmel (IN) missed because one of their busses was in an accident and they missed their performance time slot. Rather than just disqualify them, BOA gave them a penalty, which resulted in them getting a negative score for the regional. Still an early season regional (early October) was the Toledo, OH regional. Lake Park (IL) absolutely crushed the competition at this regional. They won by close to 4.5 points and won the big three highest achievement awards. This led to a lot of talk about a first time Grand National title for Lake Park this season. After finishing 4th in Indy just the previous week, Westerville South (OH) was second with a much higher score. Packed tightly together in 3rd and 4th was Jenison (MI) and Norwin (PA). Norwin returned to BOA this season after skipping the 1992 season. A HUGE surprise at this regional was that Plymouth-Canton (MI) finished 10th and were beaten by bands that you would never have expected to beat them. Their show was still very much in the development stages. The Atlanta, GA regional featured a big upset. Seminole (FL) won this regional, their first regional title, by beating Centerville (OH), the defending Grand National champion and the band that had won the Indy regional just two weeks earlier. Very surprising seeing as Seminole had failed to make Grand National finals the previous two seasons. I am not sure if Seminole attended the 1980 Florida regional. If they did not; this would have been their first BOA regional. They won by just under a point but won the three big highest achievement awards. Clustered very close together in 3rd, 4th and 5th was Central Cabarrus (NC), Fort Mill (SC) and Irmo (SC). I believe this third place finish was Central Cabarrus's highest at a regional. Not too far behind in 6th was Jackson Academy (MS), a band that would turn some heads later in the season at Grand Nationals. The Morgantown, WV regional was won by Kiski Area (PA). They had now won this regional 5 of the past 6 years. In a close 2nd and tying Kiski in General Effect was West Genesee (NY). Westerville South (OH) was not too far behind in 3rd. This was the third BOA regional Westerville South attended this season. I bet they were hoping to win one of them. Tightly clustered in 4th and 5th was Webster (NY) and Norwin (PA). A regional was held in Fullerton, CA this season. This was the first regional in the western US since 1988. All of the finalist bands were from the state of California. Fred C Beyer not only won the regional, they scored 91.8 points which was pretty high for a regional back then. This was their first and only BOA regional title. It would have been interesting to see how they would have done had they attended Grand Nationals. About 4 points down in 2nd was Poway; the highest finish for this band at a regional. Diamond Bar was 3rd but almost 8 points lower than Poway. Just over 22 points separated 1st from 10th at this regional; pretty high considering there were 29 bands who participated in this regional. The last regional of the season (held the weekend before Grand Nationals) was in Houston, TX. With only one Texas regional this season, this was pretty heavily attended by mainly Houston area bands with just a few from the Dallas-Fort Worth metro region. In fact, all participating bands were from the state of Texas. It proved to be a match up between Spring and Westfield. While Westfield won prelims and the Class AAA title, Spring pulled ahead in finals and won their very first BOA regional. While they won by a fairly slim margin, just over a half a point, Spring swept the highest achievement awards and broke 94 points; the highest score at a BOA regional to date. Even though Westfield did not attend GN this year, I would probably say that these were the two best bands in the country in 1993; not just in Texas. Just a couple points lower than Westfield and in 3rd was Klein. Several points behind Klein but tightly clustered in 4th and 5th was Duncanville and Dickinson.
Grand Nationals was attended by 65 bands this year. Heading into Grand Nationals, there was a lot of buzz about Lake Park. Spring had also been thrown around as a potential GN champion in light of them coming off their win over Westfield at BOA Houston, not to mention last years champion Centerville. After prelims/class championships, Spring (TX) won the class AAA title, with Lake Park (IL) in 2nd. Seminole (FL) was a big surprise in 3rd in Class 3A, proving that their win in Atlanta was no fluke. While Centerville won visual in Class 3A, they ended up 4th. The Class AA was not too competitive this year. Marian Catholic (IL) easily won the Class AA title and swept all of the caption awards. Marian Catholic ended up being the only Class AA band in finals this year. Central Cabarrus (NC) was 2nd in Class 2A with Mona Shores (MI) not too far behind in 3rd. In Class A, Jackson Academy (MS) won the title, their first Class A title. They won by almost 8 points over 2nd place Erie Central (PA). While they won music and GE, Hazard (KY), 3rd in Class A, picked up the Visual Performance award in Class A. I will detail a lot more about Jackson Academy in the finalist section. After prelims/class championships, Spring was the band getting a lot of buzz; and rightfully so. Before getting to the finalist bands, a few general comments about this group of finalists. This was the first group of finalists who had all participated in a BOA regional earlier in the current season (they were all finalists too). This was also a great group of finalists; one of if not my favorite finalist groups of the decade.
Almost as soon as Spring (TX) began their show, it was clear that we were watching the Grand National Champion performance. They played music of Paul Hindemith; including Symphony in B flat and Symphonic Metamorphosis. They played incredibly well. Intense and powerful at times and soft and melodic other time. Every aspect of their music was terrific; in fact every music judge had them first; garnering them the Music Performance and General Effect awards in finals. I kind of think the music scores could have been a touch higher. In addition to the strong brass and winds; the percussion was fantastic and so clean. Also have to mention some terrific soloists. They had one of the best flute soloists ever at BOA GN. What was truly impressive was that they played so well while performing very fast paced and difficult drill. While their drill designer Steve Brubaker had passed away earlier in the year, I suspect that one of his protégés wrote the drill as it had a lot of Brubaker-esque elements. They did a rotating double helix move and had a section of complex triangular formations. I also have to mention the numerous blind drill passes that they did; just incredible. There were several moments where the visual difficulty rivaled that of DCI. What was truly impressive is that they had such a great sound quality while doing such demanding drill. It gave us all a new perspective as to what high school students could accomplish. Although they did not win the visual award, they still had very good marching technique, great posture and perfect horn angles. In fact, they were 2nd in both overall visual performance and visual effect. I think had they been just a touch cleaner visually, they could have won the visual awards too. Also have to mention that they had a strong color guard performance; a relatively small guard in relation to their band size. Another thing that impressed me with Spring was that during the close ups, every single band member had a look of total concentration and confidence. Spring made history this season by earning the highest score at a BOA competition to date; 96.55 points and becoming the first Texas band to win the Grand National title. If you had told me back then that this would be Spring's last appearance in finals, I would not have believed it. They simply did not attend nationals the rest of the decade; despite going on to win 4 more regional titles; for a total of 5. Had they attended, they would have certainly been a finalist; perhaps even challenged another title. Their director, Bill Watson, left the program in the mid 1990s and went to Richland HS. While his departure was a bit noticeable on the program, they were still really quite good through the rest of the decade. They finally attended Grand Nationals again in 2002. The 2000s had some ups and downs for Spring, but overall they slowly declined during the decade. While they did make Semi Finals in 2002, they failed to make finals. In their 2nd attempt in 2011, they came really close to finals, finishing 13th in Semi Finals. They have since been less competitive on the BOA circuit; just not the level that they were in the 1990s. If you take out the Grand National champions of the 1970, including only the fall GN champs since 1980, Spring is the GN Champ with the fewest appearances in GN finals; just two. I will say this about Spring 1993; this show was considered one of the best BOA performances ever for many years following the 93 season.
In 2nd place (the third time they were runner up to the title) was Lake Park (IL). Their show was titled "Fiesta Roma" and took us to Italy and ancient Rome. Included of course was Pines of Rome. They had a solid performance. Their closure featured some challenging moments both visually and musically. For me, this is my favorite Lake Park show. I just loved the music and they had really good and at times difficult drill routines. A crowd pleasing moment came in the middle of the show when one of the brass members performed a vocal solo in operatic Italian. He sang so well and with just the right amount of passion; huge applause from the audience. I have never been a big fan of singing in marching band/DCI, but I have to admit that the Lake Park vocalist really added to that show. Lake Park came off with the Visual Performance award. I could tell they were gunning for the title. They gave a Grand National Champion worthy performance, but Spring threw a wrench in that.
Centerville (OH) wound up in third place. They took on the music of Earth, Wind and Fire. A little more of a smooth jazz style in this show. It was well played and very clean visually. As usual, there were great saxophone features in this show. Anyone who played saxophone in marching band in this era was envious of the Centerville saxophone's. Also a great world class guard. Their guard picked up the best Auxiliary award. I personally think that overall, the show was stronger than their 92 championship performance and I thought it had more visual interest (it even scored 0.05 points higher). The competition was just really tough this season. While this would be the last time that Centerville would place in the top three, they still would have many more finals appearances ahead of them.
In 4th place for the second year in a row was Westerville South (OH) with their show "On the Waterfront". Very true to their identity, the show had a lot of underlying tension with moments big sound and intensity. Like several of the bands in finals this year, a ton of difficulty packed into this show. They did extremely well with it and edged ahead of Spring in the visual effect caption. In the opener, the guard wore full head masks, I found this odd yet intriguing.
This was the year that Plymouth Centennial Educational Park actually became Plymouth-Canton Educational Park in BOA. They struggled through much of this season. At the Toledo regional their show was far from complete and really rough around the edges. I personally thought they were trying too hard to be innovative. They were 10th in finals at Toledo. They of course improved during the season. At the Michigan State Championships, they finished a surprising 3rd. This was however the result of a penalty which I believe cost them the state title. Nonetheless, the scores were still close and there was actually some concern that Plymouth would fail to make GN finals. They of course did make finals, but not by much as they were 10th in prelims. I will admit when I saw this show in the early season, I hated it. Then I watched it in finals; it was incredible. The amount of improvement they had made since Toledo was remarkable. They even improved from prelims into finals by almost 5 points and wound up in 5th place. They did the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar". This was a popular show in the early 90s, but noone did this show like Plymouth. It featured vocal performers situated on a platform to one side of the field. There was also amplified vocal narration and a ton of interesting moments from electric keyboards. The show was very dark and highly theatrical. It had a great electric guitar feature and moments of pretty intense drill. A portion of the band put on white choral gowns in a soft and reflective ending. This show was very ahead of its times in many ways.
Marian Catholic (IL) finished 6th. They performed music of Leonard Bernstein; a composer that this band has played many times over the years. They packed quite a lot of material (and notes) into one show. Complex drill with some mixed metering in the music made this quite a feast for the eyes and ears. There were some echoes of the late 80s in this show as they played music from Candide (as in 88) and they closed in a tight block in the front of the field (just as they had opened in 1987). I gather from placements and scores from earlier in the season that it took Marian a little while to get this show down. The somewhat uncharacteristic 6th place finish was simply that the show could have been a little cleaner and there were some pretty powerful shows at the top.
Seminole (FL) made their Grand National finals debut back at the very first fall Grand Nationals in 1980 where they were 8th. They did not participate in MBA/BOA through the rest of the decade. They returned to BOA competition in 1991 at the Grand Nationals. They fell far short of finals but attended again in 1992 and placed 14th. Then came 1993. After winning the Atlanta regional, they had a strong show in prelims and wound up third overall, earning their 2nd appearance in Grand National finals (13 years after their first). In finals, I don't think they were quite a solid as in prelims and finished 7th. Still, this 7th place finish would be their highest out of their three GN finals appearances. Their whole show was Appalachian Spring. In addition to the solid music performance, this was an overall well designed show with a lot of visual interest. I am sure the 1993 season was talked about for years to come among the Seminole 'Warhawk' band members.
Jackson Academy, from Jackson, MS was a small band on the rise in the early 1990s. They had a pretty rapid rise to success as by 1992 they won the Class A title and finished 6th at the BOA Hattiesburg regional. This season, at the Atlanta regional, they again won the Class A title and finished 6th. So it was not too big a surprise that they won the GN Class A title this season in their first trip to nationals. It was a huge surprise however when they made finals, becoming the first Class A band to make GN finals since the 1991 rule change. What was also astonishing about this band is that they had only 39 members in the entire band; only 20 in the horn line. This makes them the smallest band to make Grand National finals in BOA history. They had a really innovative show which was somewhat ahead of its time. They used a tarp in the front of the field that the band performed on; first I had ever seen a tarp like this on the field. The tarp and props around it were made to look like a beach. The percussion were grounded in the back. The staging was really genius as it allowed more focus to be on this tiny band; in other words the tarp and pit placement prevented them from getting swallowed up by the whole field. The show took place on this tarp; with staging somewhat similar to a WGI show with the band and guard disappearing into the props at times. They played very well and did a lot of intricate moves despite their small size. They also danced at times and had a couple segments of intricate body movement among the band; all very ahead of its time in 1993. In one section, the brass players picked up woodwind instruments. This small group was so talented. They ended up finishing 8th in finals. Despite not winning the visual award in Class A prelims, they placed 4th in visual performance in finals. What was also impressive is that they beat 9th place Duncanville, the largest band to be a Grand National finalist and who had to have been at least 10 times their size. This was the ultimate Cinderella moment for this band. They went on to be a regional class champion and finalist in 1994 but did not attend GN. They did return in 1995 but were just not to the level of 93, falling far short from even the Class A champion. They did have a modest comeback in the early 2000s (and picked up one more GN Class A title). They have always maintained a band size of under 40 members. In addition to being the smallest finalist band, they are the last Mississippi band to have made Grand National finals.
Back for their 2nd and last trip to nationals was Duncanville (TX). This year they looked a touch bigger than 91; hard to tell. Anyway they had to have had at least 400 members in this band (at least 100 in the guard alone). Toward the end of the show they did a double company front (which did not include the guard or drums) that stretched from endzone to endzone. They are the largest finalist band in BOA. They gave another strong music performance; such impressive brass moments in this show. With such a large band they could really fill the Hoosier Dome with sound. With such a big band, their movement was a bit limited, which probably hurt the visual scores a bit. It was after this season (and I don't know if being beaten by a 39 member band had anything to do with this) that Duncanville decided that BOA was not their thing. They focused on Texas UIL competitions (not sure if they participated in US Bands). Just a couple years ago they returned to BOA Texas regionals; just not as large or as strong a program as their late 80s and 1990s glory years.
Although Center Grove, from Greenwood, IN (south side of Indy metro) attended nationals in 1983, they did not make finals. This year they were a much better band than 10 years prior. Under the direction of Thomas Dirks, Center Grove rose to prominence in Indiana competition in the late 80s and early 90s. By 1993 they had two Indiana state titles under their belt. They returned to BOA competition in 1990, winning their first regional. They were a strong regional competitor since. This year marked their return to Grand Nationals (they have participated in GN every year since) and their first appearance in Grand National finals. So there was a lot of excitement to see this band at nationals. They did not disappoint; strong show with a ton of difficulty. It was somewhat surprising that they finished 10th. I think in prior years this show would have placed higher; just a strong group of finalists this year.
Finishing 11th was Northrop (IN). Northrop actually tied Center Grove in score, with Center Grove having a higher GE score breaking the tie. This was another great showing for Northrop at nationals. They too upped the level of difficulty in their show from the previous season and had some awesome percussion moments. They unfortunately have the dubious distinction of having one of the worst falls in finals; which took out a few band members in the finals push. As bands increased their difficulty this year, there were actually several hard falls among many of the finalist bands. This was Northrop's (Big Orange Pride) 5th and sadly last appearance in finals. They remained frequent participants in BOA into the 2000s; making a few more regional finals appearances and a few GN semi finals appearances. Overall, their program slowly declined over the next couple decades.
Sliding into finals by finishing 12th in prelims, then placing 12th in finals was Webster, from Webster, NY (outside Rochester). This was the first year that Webster participated in BOA. They rose to become a New York state power this decade, although they never could unseat West Genesee for the New York State title. Webster would prove a band that did not shy away from visual difficulty. They did a good job with it this season which paid off quite well. Pretty impressive to make finals this particular year in your very first year in BOA. This would end up being the first of two finals appearances for Webster.
I am sure that once Central Cabarrus (NC) was announced 2nd in Class AA, they probably thought they had made finals. Unfortunately, they finished in the unlucky number 13th spot. I felt they had a stronger show than their 91 finals show, but competition was tougher this season. In 14th was Mona Shores (MI). Mona Shores underwent rapid improvement from 1990 to 1993, aided by a good visual designer. As a result of Plymouth's penalty, Mona Shores walked away with the Michigan Flight 1 state title this year, edging out Jenison in addition to Plymouth. This 14th place finish would be their highest finish at nationals. McGavock (TN) was 15th. This was their first trip to nationals since 1990 and marked the first time they attended nationals but failed to make finals. Lakeland (MI) was 16th and Erie Central (PA) was 17th. Remember Erie Central essentially was the old Academy (the 91 Class A Champ) band. This made two Class A bands finishing in the top 20. Rounding out the top 20 was Carroll (OH) in 18th, Norwin (PA) in 19th and Pomona (CO) in 20th.
It just so happens that all of the 1993 finalist performances are on You Tube. I will include the top three bands. I will also include an old thread from the Texas band forums. Alan Irons did a fantastic write up about some of the performances from this season. It is worth the read.
Post by LeanderMomma on Aug 16, 2019 20:22:34 GMT -6
Wow you aren’t kidding about that drill! It definitely looks more like a DCI group rather than a high school. Those kids never stopped moving! And to think they didn’t win Visual. Crazy. Also, I love how the band covers the entire field just before the ballad. Wow, what a band.
That flute was beautiful and amazing indeed. I’m trying to think where I’ve heard that music in recent years. It was either Leander or Cedar Park. CP 2016 maybe?
Fascinating stuff about Spring. I would love to have seen that back in the day. I will watch the video for sure.
Also so interesting about the little band from Jackson MS. Very impressive that they could make finals and do so well with such a tiny band!
I had no idea Duncanville was around 400 members strong back then, or that they had given up on BOA altogether until recently. I always enjoy their shows.
I read just today about a band that has 400 members this season. I can’t remember who it was. CTJ? Vandegrift? Carmel? Now I need to go find out!
Yes, Spring was just awesome. I am estimating Duncanville at 400. They likely had more; way too hard to count that many. And yes seeing tiny Jackson Academy among that group of bands was truly amazing. Those 39 kids in that tiny band were really talented. The audience gave them a huge standing O at the end of their show. We were all so impressed with that small band.
Post by boahistorybuff on Aug 24, 2019 10:05:41 GMT -6
...1994 SEASON REVIEW...
A thing called the internet was rapidly becoming popular in 1994. Although it would still be several years before on line videos and video sharing would become popular, on line forums and chat rooms emerged fairly quickly. This allowed so much insight and knowledge into other band programs from all over the county. Unfortunately, far too many used these forums to either brag about their band, put down other bands or tear into judges. It is nice to see that the forums have become a little more respectful. What they did do however was give a much better prospective on other bands shows and how they were progressing during the season
The 1994 season again featured six well attended and highly competitive regionals. This would be the last year that so few regionals would be held. It would be a slow but near steady increase from here on out. Like the past several years, the Indianapolis, IN regional was again the first regional of the season (late September). Centerville (OH), who would remain a strong early season competitor for several years, won this regional. Their in-state rival Westerville South (OH) was only three tenths down in 2nd. A not too distant 3rd and 4th were Homestead (IN) and Center Grove (IN) with Prospect (IL) in 5th. Deciding not to attend Morgantown this year, West Genesee (NY) made their first trip to the Toledo (OH) regional and edged out favored Lake Park (IL) by .6 of a point for the regional title. This was West Genesee's first and only regional title and the only one for a New York band. Perhaps deciding to attend a regional that was not so early Marian Catholic (IL) attended the Toledo Regional for the first time and was third, a little over 4 points behind West Genesee and Lake Park. Plymouth-Canton (MI) and Jenison (MI) were packed close together in 4th and 5th. The Morgantown, WV regional was very competitive and I am sure an exciting regional. The top 4 bands all scored within a point of each other. Despite getting a .5 point penalty, Westerville South (OH) still won and earned the visual and GE awards. This was Westerville South's second and last regional title. In a close second was Webster (NY), their highest finish at a BOA regional. Centerville (OH) was third and in what I am sure was a huge surprise was Kiski Area (PA) in 4th. Kiski had attended this regional since 1987 and had never placed lower than 2nd. They were however only three tenths of a point away from 2nd place. Plymouth-Canton made the trip out east to this regional and in what I am sure was a surprise, finished 7th behind Norwin (PA) and Greenbrier East (WV).
1994 marked the first year that a BOA regional was held in San Antonio, TX in the brand new (at the time) Alamodome. The defending GN champion, Spring (TX) dominated this competition and not only swept the highest achievement awards, was placed 1st by every single judge. Spring went on to win the Texas UIL state title later in the season. Spring did Firebird Suite this season. While not as difficult visually as 93, it was still a solid show that would have been a contender for another GN title had they attended. Westfield (TX) was comfortably in 2nd. In third was Union (OK). This was Union's first BOA competition since 1990 Grand Nationals. Klein (TX) wound up 4th and in 5th was Winston Churchill (TX) in their first BOA competition. At the Atlanta, GA regional, Seminole (FL) again won. This was Seminole's 2nd and last regional win. They won fairly comfortably with Irmo (SC), Alan C Pope (GA) and Cypress Creek (FL) tightly clustered in 2nd, 3rd and 4th. One of the finalists at this regional was Broken Arrow (OK) in their first BOA competition since the 1982 Grand Nationals. The last regional of the season was in Walnut, CA. After finishing what was likely a disappointing 7th place finish at the western regional in 93, Etiwanda (CA) edged out Fred C Beyer (CA) for the title. This was Etiwanda's first of what would eventually be 8 regional titles. Beyer was a good band, so this win was likely an upset. It probably marked a turning point for Etiwanda as they would be the band to beat during the years that they attended the western regionals over the next 10 years. American Fork (UT) was comfortably in third, in their first BOA competition. Several points down and tightly clustered in 4th and 5th was Diamond Bar (CA) and Mission Viejo (CA).
This was the year that the Hoosier Dome was renamed the RCA Dome (It was always the Hoosier Dome to me). A total of 66 bands participated in the 1994 Band Of America Grand Nationals, held the first weekend in November; a week earlier than most Grand Nationals. I believe this was the year that bands were allowed to cross the front side line between the 35 yard lines (that is the marching performers). This led to a few bands having their pit in the back of the field rather than up front to take advantage of this. It was clear from the roster that getting into finals this year was going to be pretty competitive. I had about 7 or 8 sure bet finalist bands with a about 8 other potential finalists. That meant that some good bands would miss out on finals; which indeed turned out to be the case. Heading into nationals this season there was a lot of buzz about Westerville South. This was not just because they were having a strong season, but also that their show was highly talked about. During the class championship awards, it did become clear that Westerville South would be a contender for the GN title. Westerville South (OH) won the Class AAA title (their only GN class title) and took visual and general effect. Lassiter (GA) wound up 2nd in 3A and Lake Park (IL) 3rd. Klein (TX) won the 3A music award but did not place in the top three in class. The Class AA was much more competitive than the previous season. Kiski Area (PA) edged out Marian Catholic (IL) for the Class AA title; their 2nd and last 2A title. Even without the scores we knew it was close between Kiski and Marian as Kisi won visual, Marian won music and they tied in general effect. It turns out Kiski beat Marian by only .2 of a point (taking into count the .1 point penalty Marian received). Kiski actually had the highest score of all bands in prelims with Marian 2nd. Third in Class AA was Homestead (IN). In Class A, Bellbrook (OH) won what be the first of 7 class A titles over a 19 year span. Their visual scores put them over the edge (they won visual performance). 2nd place in 1A was Marlington (OH). They won both music and general effect. The visual ensemble judge sunk their chances of winning what would have been their second Class A title 8 years after their first. That judges score dropped them below Bellbrook. Third in Class A for the second year in a row was Hazard (KY). Even though after the class awards we did not know how Kiski and Marian placed among the Class 3A bands, we figured they were near the top because both of these bands were really good in prelims. So most of the thoughts were that Kiski, Marian and Westerville South would be battling it out for the Grand National title.
Back in the 90s it was always said that if Marian puts on a really clean show, look out as they will be hard to beat. That turned out to be the case this season. Marian Catholic (IL) was pretty solid in finals. The result was that they won their 5th Grand National title. It had been five years since they won a title. They did music of South America (well South America and Mexico). Their music included La Fiesta Mexicana, Sinfonia India and Pampeana No. 3 Mvt 2: 'Imperpetuosomente'. There were no added frills, just a somewhat simple/minimalist approach to the show. The music and drill however were anything but simple. Their music, as usual, was highly nuanced and very sophisticated. We talked about Spring 93 having some DCI level difficulty in their drill, well Marian 94 did as well. There were a few fast paced blind drill passes that would have caused many bands to wind up in a big pile on the field. Marian handled the visual difficulty well. True to their reputation, this was very much a symphonic style music program set to motion on the field. The judges were somewhat polarized with this show (actually there was a lot of variation in how each judge ranked the finalist bands). Marian had to combat a low score by the visual individual judge. Marian also did not win music effect (one judge did have them first but the other had them 5th) and they did not win visual effect. However, their combined music and visual effect scores gave them the highest general effect total and allowed them to edge out Kiski for the Grand National title. They won by only 0.15 points (actually only 0.05 if you remove the .1 point penalty given to Kiski), which is the slimmest margin of victory of all 7 of Marian's GN wins. Another interesting factoid, since 1980 all GN Champion bands have finished either 1st or 2nd in at least at one of the regionals they attended earlier in the season. 94 Marian is the exception as their top regional placement this year was 3rd.
This was the first trip since 91 for Kiski Area (PA) and there was a lot of excitement to have them return. They did a jazz style show, a type of show that served them well the last couple seasons. This was also the first year they debuted their more stylish light blue uniforms at nationals. Although Scott Koter was no longer their director, I assume he was still evolved with the program, their new director George Wozniak was continuing their legacy. Their show was titled "Come Rain or Shine". Perhaps that 4th place finish in Morgantown lit a fire under them because man they were god. The music was not just solid but very enjoyable. They also had very clean marching technique and won the visual award in finals. One of their songs was Somewhere Over the Rainbow. While many bands of done some iteration of this song in their shows over the last several decades, Kiski's arrangement and jazz take on this was really good. Overall awesome saxophones. The end of the show featured one of the drum majors doing an alto sax solo, one of the best saxophone soloists in BOA in my opinion. It provided just an outstanding end to this show. While they had a somewhat low score from the music individual judge, the rest of their scores were solid. They had the highest overall music effect score. If you took the visual effect score out of the equation, Kiski was actually 0.65 points ahead of Marian. The visual effect judge had Kiski .7 points lower than Marian (and had them ranked 6th). Interestingly, Kiski had the overall highest visual effect score from prelims. So that visual score dropped them 0.05 points behind Marian, with the .1 point penalty (not sure what it was for) taking them 0.15 points down and placing them 2nd. This would be the highest finish for Kiski at Grand Nationals. Given their success during the 1990s, Kiski is certainly one of the best bands not to have won a GN title. Of course, there were a lot of folks who thought Kiski should have one. I personally would have been happy with either Marian or Kiski as they both gave Grand National champion worthy performances. Another factoid, this is the only time in BOA history that the top two bands in GN finals were Class AA bands.
In their second appearance at nationals, Lassiter (GA) had a strong finals performance and wound up 3rd. Among their song selections were Year of the Dragon and Belshazzar's Feast. They played incredibly well. A great sound quality and solid music earned them the music performance award. Their total music effect score was also 2nd. While they had a more intricate and interesting visual design compared to their 1990 GN appearance, their marching technique and visual execution were not up to the level of Marian and Kiski. which resulted in the third place finish.
In 4th was Westerville South (OH). 94 was an iconic Westerville South show; a show ahead of its time in many ways. This was also the most talked about show this season and it was a show that I know Westerville South was hoping to win the GN title with. They performed Symphony No1 (In Memoriam Dresden 1945) by Daniel Buckvich. Following is the official description of what this symphony is about: "Symphony No. 1" was written to depict the fire bombing of Dresden, Germany by Allied forces on February 13-14, 1945. In three waves of attacks, 3,300 tons of incendiary bombs were dropped on the city, creating a firestorm. The more the city burned, the more oxygen was drawn in, and the greater the fires became. It is thought that temperatures reached 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. As people began to flee, their feet burned as the surface of the road melted. Some attempted to save themselves by jumping into reservoirs in the city centre that were intended to assist fire fighters. As these were ten feet deep, smooth sided, and had no ladders, many drowned. Estimates of the number of casualties of this attack vary from as few as 25,000 to as many as 150,000. Due to the large number of refugees that had sought a safe haven in Dresden, we will never know for sure. Movement I, "Prologue", establishes the mood of impending disaster and presents the thematic material. Movement II, "Seeds in the Wind", refers to the method of "seeding" a bomb target with jellied gasoline and incendiaries. Movement III, "Ave Maria", reflects upon the religious and artistic heritage of Dresden and becomes a prayer for the victims. Movement IV, "Firestorm", employs non-traditional techniques to portray the fire storm, ending with the last sobs of the dying, with a flute solo on low C..... So you can see this was a very intense show for a high school marching band. I also assume the music was very difficult to perform on a football field. Westerville South brilliantly conveyed what this music was about. They had haunting and eerie woodwind moments, intense and very difficult percussion segments, missile props, and a tarp with the date of the bombing on it. At times the band was yelling and moaning, there was also a somber choir moment near the end. From the fast and intense beginning of this show, it really drew you in. As the show got darker and more somber, it kept the entire audience intently focused. By the end you could hear a pin drop in the stands. When Westerville South was announced 4th, there was booing from the stands (not something I have seen very much of in BOA). There were a lot of people that thought they should have won. Now I do think that the music effect scores should have been much higher. I mean they sold this show and really grabbed the attention of the audience. However, there were some moments where the band was slightly off tempo and off key. So the music performance scores (which had been their weakness throughout the season) were just not going to pull them above Marian and Kiski. This was the third consecutive year Westerville South finished 4th. 4th place is the highest finish Westerville South ever had at nationals.
Lake Park (IL), who placed 5th, departed from their typical nationality themed shows and did a show featuring wizards and witches. Guard costuming and equipment were used to sell the theme. They did however stay true to their classical/symphonic style which they had been known for. As usual, Lake Park put forth a solid show in finals as they had been doing year after year. I noticed that over the last couple seasons their band (which numbered only around 120-125 in 90 and 91) had grown a little in size. This was Lake Park's 10th finals appearance. At this point in history, they had the second highest number of GN finals appearances; just one fewer than Marian.
Doing yet another Broadway musical was Plymouth-Canton (MI) in 6th with their show 'Kiss of the Spider Woman". This was also a rather heavy theme for high school students as it was a show about political prisoners. It had a large sider prop that functioned as a stage. This show was full of vocal narration, singing and even had two actors portraying the characters in the musical. It was part marching band show and part musical theater. This show started a firestorm on the forums and chat rooms from those opposed to singing and vocalization in marching shows and those who liked it. Since it would be many years before amplified vocals would be allowed in DCI, BOA was where this was being developed. I would say that no band was more innovative in the use of amplified vocals than Plymouth Canton. Back in the early/mid 90s they were the biggest pioneer in this area. Given what both BOA and DCI shows have evolved to today, I would definitely say that Plymouth-Canton had some of the biggest influence on the marching arts activity. Of course doing what they did back then, which was so out of the box at the time, made them a very polarizing band. Many of those that did not care for the singing, vocalization, and heavy use of electronics (I was included in this) still always managed to pay close attention to what PCEP was doing.
Klein HS from Spring, TX (north of Houston) made their first and only trip to Grand Nationals this season. They were a Texas powerhouse from the late 80s through much of the 90s, but I think were often overshadowed by their neighboring high schools Westfield and Spring. Like all of the great Texas bands, Klein could play and play well. Great big sound and terrific percussion. They narrowly slid into finals by placing 12th overall in prelims. The visual performance judges scored them very low and had them nowhere near finals. It was the music that got them into finals, specifically the music performance scores. Not only did they win music performance in the Class AAA, they had the highest music performance score of all bands in prelims. In finals they wound up third in music performance behind Lassiter and Marian. The visual performance judges in finals were however much more generous to them than the prelim judging panel. This propelled them into 7th place in finals. During the rest of the decade, Klein remained a frequent regional finalist at Texas regionals. During the 2000s, their BOA participation and placements declined.
Centerville (OH) finished 8th with their show the "Music of Chase". They about had the crowd on their feet. This was a high energy in your face entertaining show. They placed the pit in the back of the field to allow the performers to come over the front sidelines at times. Their guard not only was awesome with the equipment, they had some great dance features as well. They won the coordinated auxiliary award in finals (the second year in a row they won this). This would be the very last time that BOA gave out a coordinated auxiliary award.
Prospect (IL) slide into finals by finishing eleventh overall in prelims; then they finished 9th in finals. They tied Homestead but had a higher GE score, thus giving them 9th place. This was Prospects 4th finals appearance and first since 1990. They did music of Aaron Copeland (which of course included Appalachian Spring). Many bands have had strong seasons doing Copeland and Prospect was no different. Not only did they deliver a strong finals show, this was their highest finish ever at Grand Nationals. They also had some impressive drill designs (a Brubaker protégée I am certain). There were a few moves that echoed that of 92 Spring.
Homestead, from Fort Wayne, IN had attended the June Whitewater Nationals of the late 70s and early 80s. This was their first trip to fall Grand Nationals. They were the reigning Indiana Class A state champs so there was a lot of eagerness to see them perform. Holy cow, I loved them. The audience loved their show too. While a Class AA band, you would not have thought so given their size. They played with such power and had some great brass moments. There were several sections of this show where they were marching very fast. The tempo was just crazy. They did a fantastic job with the drill; the visual effect judge in finals had them first. Despite that, the overall GE scores were lower than Prospect so they were placed 10th. When I was watching them, I was sure they would be in the top 6 (they did place 4th overall in prelims). The music judges in finals were just not too impressed I guess. The 10th place finish by Homestead 94 is actually one of the placements over the years that I have most disagreed with. Homestead was obviously not happy either, as after this season they decided to keep their focus on Indiana competitions and did not participate in BOA. They would not return to BOA for another 20 years. During that 20 year span, they remained one of the top Indiana bands and went on to win the Class A title again in 95, 96 and 2011; beating bands that went on to have great success at BOA Grand Nationals.
This was another great year for Seminole (FL) as they made finals for the 2nd consecutive year (giving them three finals appearances total) and nabbed their second regional title. They placed 11th in finals. A few things I remember most about their show was that they had a strong guard and some insanely difficult drill moves at the very end. Sadly this was their last appearance in finals. They remained a strong competitor in Florida competitions and did quite well at the BOA Florida regionals of the late 90s and 2000s (being runner up to Tarpon several times). They came close to making GN finals again in 2003 (they were 13th). They still have a good competitive marching band although in recent years they have not had the success of their 1990s/2000s glory years. Being in the same county as Tarpon Springs, I somewhat wonder if Tarpon, being a magnet school for performing arts, is taking away some talent from neighboring schools like Seminole.
The 12th placing band in finals was Jenison (MI). 1994 was the best year for Jenison. They finished 2nd in Flight 1 at the Michigan state championships, just a small fraction of a point under Plymouth-Canton. I actually thought they should have won the state title this year. They would still need a strong show in prelims to be able to make finals. They delivered; boy did they deliver. I would say that their 94 prelims show was their best ever (it is actually the highest score they ever got at BOA). In prelims, they wound up 8th (and beat PCEP). Their show was "Images of Africa". It had some entertaining musical moments, especially from a percussion prospective. This was Jenison's second and last appearance in GN finals. At the Michigan state level, they never could beat PCEP during the rest of the 90s. In the early 2000s, they dropped down to Flight 2. The would go on to win multiple Flight 2 state titles over the coming decades. While they had a rough show at 95 regionals and failed to make finals, they have made regional finals every year from 97 onward (I don't think they participated in BOA in 96). They have also won several regional Class AA titles and have been an occasional GN Semi Finalist for the past two decades.
The unlucky number 13th spot this year went to Union (OK) who scored an 88.6 but still failed to make finals; they missed by .35 points. Interestingly, one of their music effect scores was the second highest in prelims. While they had not attended Grand Nationals since 1990, they were at the time the Oklahoma powerhouse. They had won the Oklahoma State title 6 of the last 7 years at the time. Their show this year was Batman. The drum majors were dressed as Batman, the guard as cat women and the band as the joker. It was the first I had seen the band ditch the military style uniform for a costume fitting the theme of the show; nearly 25 years before this became much more common. As usual, the guard was spectacular and won the auxiliary award in Class AAA. I really thought this show should have been in finals.
Pomona (CO) was 14th with Center Grove (IN) 15th. Center Grove not making finals was also a bit surprising. The South Carolina power Irmo was 16th and in 17th (making a comeback from their disappointing 93 season) was Marietta (OH). Northrop (IN) was 18th and Carmel (IN) was 19th. This was Carmel's first trip to Grand Nationals; they have attended every year since. Rounding out the top 20 was Mona Shores (MI) in 20th.
As far as I know all of the finalist bands have either their prelims or finals show on You Tube.
Post by LeanderMomma on Aug 24, 2019 17:01:48 GMT -6
As always, I enjoy the bits about Texas bands the most. . Interesting about the Alamodome opening up, Spring taking all the awards in both SA and at UIL, and super cool about Klein moving up so far in GN finals.
I remember being a huge addict of Internet forums back in the mid 90s myself. I wasn’t in to band forums, but I can imagine how negative it all was at first. Flame wars were huge back then.
Post by boahistorybuff on Sept 3, 2019 11:07:01 GMT -6
...1995 SEASON REVIEW...
More bands took advantage of the rule change which allowed performers to come across the front sideline. This also resulted in several bands placing their pit on the field (either in the back or off to the side). The use of props and amplified vocals also became a little more common (although not nearly as widely used as today). More bands were also using a show title for their program. The phrase prior to the start of the show "Drum Majors is Your Band Ready" was replaced with "We Are Proud to Announce in (Prelims/Finals) performance, Drum Majors (........) and the (......) Marching Band. This would end up paving the way for shows to do a pre show. We also no longer had to hear that one parent that always had to yell out "There're Always Ready" after the Drum Majors were asked if their band was ready. Also, 1995 was the year that BOA debuted their website and we could finally get results at our fingertips.
The number of regional championships was increased to nine this season, finally topping the eight that were held way back in 1980. The first regional of the season was in Cincinnati, OH. Centerville (OH) comfortably won this regional with Center Grove (IN) over a point and a half down in 2nd. Not too far down in 3rd, 4th and 5th were Prospect (IL), Lafayette (KY) and Westerville South (OH). This was Lafayette's first BOA competition since a 1985 regional they had attended. Toledo, OH was the second regional of the season. Lake Park (IL) won this regional by several points and swept the highest achievement awards. 2nd through 5th place were very close; Plymouth-Canton (MI) came in 2nd (a much better regional performance than the previous two seasons), Marian Catholic (IL) was 3rd, Webster (NY) was 4th and West Genesee (NY) was 5th. I am sure Webster was excited about beating their in-state rival and notable state power house West Genesee. After the disappointment at Morgantown, WV from the previous season, Kiski Area (PA) had a strong show and won this regional and swept the highest achievement awards. They likely would have been a GN Champion contender had they attended. Clustered very close in 2nd and 3rd was Norwin (PA) and Centerville (OH). 95 was a much improved Norwin. Westerville South (OH) was a few points down in 4th. In their first BOA competition since their 1989 finals appearance, Liverpool (NY) was comfortably in 5th. The Johnson City, TN regional was won by Lassiter (GA). Lassiter was in a field of their own at this regional and won by nearly eight points and won every single caption award. This was Lassiter's first BOA regional title. Fort Mill (SC) was 2nd with Miamisburg (OH) in 3rd. I believe this is the highest finish at a BOA regional for Miamisburg, a band that has been a BOA participant for decades. The Atlanta, GA regional featured a fairly big comeback for McGavock (TN). They won this regional, their second win coming 5 years after their first. They did not attend GN this season, but probably would have done well. Lafayette (KY) went all in for BOA this season. They were runner up at the Atlanta regional. Not too far behind in 3rd was Irmo (SC). Seminole (FL), who had won this regional the past two seasons was 4th.
The western regional this season was held in Fullterton, CA. Etiwanda (CA) who had now become a California power won this regional, their 2nd regional win. A few points down in 2nd was another California power during this era, Mission Viejo (CA). Diamond Bar (CA) and Upland (CA) were not too far behind in 3rd and 4th. The San Antonio, TX regional was highly competitive between two bands, Westfield (TX) and Spring (TX). After finishing 2nd in prelims, Westfield delivered the upset in finals and beat Spring for their 7th regional win. This win was likely a bit controversial as it appears that the results came down to one of the music effect judges who had Spring in 4th and six tenths of a point lower than Westfield. That is what likely cost Spring the regional title. A few points down and clustered in 3rd and 4th was Klein (TX) and Union (OK). This regional did feature several bands in finals who would make big strides in future Texas BOA regionals; including LD Bell, Winston Churchill, Leander and James Bowie. Broken Arrow (OK) made an attempt to make finals at this regional but fell short. They have not attended San Antonio since, although they are a much better band nowadays. The very next week, another BOA Texas regional was held in Houston. Westfield did not attend so Spring dominated the competition, winning their 3rd regional title. This was the last year that Bill Watson was Spring's director. His departure was a bit noticeable in Springs performances the next year. LV Berkner (TX) was 2nd at this regional, the closest they would ever come to a regional win and The Colony (TX) was in a close third. Rather than hold the Indianapolis, IN regional so early in the season, they moved it to a week before nationals this year. This was actually not too competitive a regional. Center Grove (IN) beat 2nd place Marian Catholic (IL) by just under a point. This was Center Grove's 2nd regional title. This was also the closest Marian had some to a regional title since they won in 1989. A couple points down in third was Westerville South (OH), with Paul Laurence Dunbar (KY) several points down in 4th. Although they just missed finals, this was Avon's (IN) first BOA competition.
They allowed a whopping 75 bands to participate in the 1995 Grand Nationals. Seeing as there were so many participating bands, they allowed the top 14 scoring bands from prelims to perform in finals rather than just 12. Having 14 bands in finals, plus the Class A exhibition, made for a very long finals evening. By allowing more bands to perform, they wanted a better opportunity for bands to perform more than just once. Seeing as some bands had a good distance to travel, they wanted to make the trip worth their while. I think this is what led to the introduction of the semi finals format that would occur the next season. Heading into nationals, there was a lot of buzz about the return of Westfield, especially seeing how they beat Spring at San Antonio. During the class awards, Westfield (TX) was named Class AAA champion with Center Grove (IN) 2nd. We knew the scores were somewhat close because of the class highest achievement awards. Westfield won music, Westfield and Center Grove tied in visual and Center Grove actually won general effect. Although a Texas band has yet to win the visual award in finals, Westfield became the first Texas band to win (or tie) the visual award in class championships. Third in Class AAA was Lake Park (IL). In Class AA, Marian Catholic won the class title and swept the highest achievement awards. West Genesee (NY) was comfortably 2nd. There were a lot of comments by the West Genesee parents who thought Marian should be in Class AAA given their dominance. Third in Class AA was Mona Shores (MI). In Class A, their general effect scores helped propel Belbrook (OH) to their 2nd GN Class A title. Beechwood (KY) came in 2nd and won visual. Beechwood would have to wait 11 years before finally winning the GN Class A title. Third in Class A and winner of the music award was Marlington (OH). So even though we figured it was close, I was sure Westfield would dominate in finals. Like 92, I did not think a band who had failed to made finals the previous season could win. Turns out I was wrong again. Before going through the finalists, a few interesting points about this group of finalists other than their were 14 of them. It was a very diverse group, hailing from 11 different states. There was also quite a variety in show styles. This is also the only year that two bands from west of the Rockies made finals.
I got the sense that when Center Grove (IN) performed in finals there was a sense of determination. I am sure they knew that a Grand National title was within their reach. They would, however, have to give a strong show in order to beat two long time BOA powers; Westfield and Marian Catholic. They gave a strong show and wound up with their first and only Grand National title, for the band and their director Thomas Dirks. At the time they were only the second Indiana band to have won this. This also marked the second time that a band who had failed to make finals the previous season, turned around and won the Grand National title. In fact this was only their second Grand National finals appearance. They were simply a far better band than in 1994 (and I am quite surprised they finished 3rd in Indiana state competition this year). Their show was titled "A Journey into the Adventure Zone" and featured the music of Stephen Melillo. To me, this show seemed like they were taking a marching band show and running it through a fun house. Through the use of tarps and props, they transformed the look of the field, making several curved and zig zagged yard lines. There were times in the show where the band tried to mimic being distorted; with the use of body movements and even briefly altering their marching style. There were also a couple moments where the band distinctly distorted their playing style. The whole show concept and design was absolutely brilliant. The level of creativity was a bit ahead of its time but was certainly an indicator of the level of creativity that would become part of show designs and concepts in the coming years. From a visual standpoint, this show was simply flawless. Even the moments when they changed up their marching a bit, everyone was in sync with one another. To top it all off, they had a very strong and clean color guard (probably would have won the auxiliary award had one been given out). A whimsical moment came when several guard emerged from a large prop looking like huge spools of thread (or something). All of the visual judges had them first, giving them the visual performance award. In fact, they held the highest visual performance score for several years. They gave a pretty solid performance from a musical standpoint as well which they definitely needed to do in this competition. Most of their music was played in the upper registers, giving them a rather unique sound. It kind of fit this funhouse type of theme. Their music effect scores were high enough not only to beat out Westfield for music effect, but also awarded them with the overall general effect caption. They scored a 97.00, breaking the record set by Spring in 93 (perhaps somewhat because the judges were a little more generous this season). Despite the strong performances by the next three highest scoring bands, this gave them the Grand National title by a relatively comfortable margin (.55 points over Westfield).
Despite being a Texas power for ten years at this point, this was only the third trip to nationals by Westfield (TX) over a ten year period. This would also be the third time they would have to settle for being 2nd place in finals. I personally thought this was their best show ever (it was their highest score at a BOA competition). Their show was called "Signatures" and featured the music of Samuel Barber. They won the music performance award and rightfully so as they played very well. Also have to mention some amazingly good percussion sections in this show. While there may be parts of their 2003 championship show that may arguably be better from a music standpoint, I think this was Westfield's best show visually. They marched very clean and had an interesting and well executed visual design. Also have to throw in a clean guard and some fierce rifle tosses. The second place finish sparked a firestorm on line; many (especially the Texans) thought they should have won and many (especially the Hoosiers) thought Center Grove won fair and square. I actually think Westfield should have won all of the music judges. One of the music effect judges had them third and .4 of a point behind Center Grove (??). Had that one score been higher, they would have (and should have) at least been much closer to Center Grove. Nonetheless, they scored a 96.45. That would hold the record as the highest GN finals score not to have won for 11 years until broken by LD Bell in 2006. For many years after 1995, most people agreed that Westfield 95 was the best show not to win a Grand National title.
When I heard that Marian Catholic (IL) was doing music of the Paris Ballet this year, I thought this was going to be a slower/softer Marian show. Well this show did have some slow and soft moments, but most of it was like a ballet on Adderall. Wow was this a difficult show. By 95, Marian had already had a reputation of being a band that did not shy away from difficulty. This was certainly one of Marian's more difficult shows. They packed a ton of notes in this show and it was filled with mixed metering and numerous tempo changes (at some points the tempo was very fast). Those Marian drum majors certainly deserve some credit for conducting a show like this. The music really showcased the technical playing ability of this band. Marian has also had a long reputation for really utilizing woodwinds well. This show had some incredible woodwind moments, especially from the flutes. While they were playing this insanely difficult music, they were flying across the field, forwards, backwards, sideways, complex drill passes, quick direction shifts; stunning. While I did not notice any falls, there were a few missteps and stumbles here and there (and a few sections where spacing was a bit off) that probably was not going to give them a high enough score to topple Center Grove or Westfield. The level of difficulty and how well they handled it did garner them 3rd place (just shy of 95 points). The last couple minutes of this show was simply genius. I was in awe at how amazing the ending of this show was. Yes Marian gets a lot of credit for having won so many GN titles and having been a GN finalist for so many years, but it is shows like their 95 show that also give them the reputation they fully deserve. I would say that no other band, even the best bands of today, could do the show Marian did this year and be able to pull it off the way they did. This show also speaks volumes for the musical arranging and show design abilities of Greg Bimm.
In 4th place, Lake Park (IL) did music from eastern European/Slavic composers, very reminiscent of their 88 show. Another solid show with a beautiful and rich sound quality. They were second to Westfield in music performance by a mere 0.05 points. They looked good too, not just great marching but brand new uniforms. While this show had many similarities to 88, it was a much stronger show and scored much higher. The competition was just tougher, thus given them fourth place as opposed to the second they received in 88.
Plymouth-Canton (MI) had undergone several changes over the last two years. They had some director changes and in 94 they ditched their signature yellow and black uniforms for white and black uniforms. This year they did not do a show from Broadway, instead they performed the piece "Prophecy of the Earth". The show was still true to their identity; highly theatrical with sections of amplified vocals. They had a wonderfully entertaining drum feature which was a big hit with the audience. Great from both a musical standpoint and visual with the band doing a ton of body movements during this section. This was a solid 5th place performance. I thought the music was a bit more complex than earlier PCEP shows. Perhaps their new director David McGrath had something to do with that. Mr. McGrath had come to PCEP from nearby Lakeland HS and would lead this band through some impressive seasons over the next several years.
In 6th place, Centerville (OH) put forth another entertaining show. This was the fourth season in a row that they gave both a strong performance and a highly entertaining jazz show. The theme to be that of a jazz nightclub with performers on platforms like tables. I am sure drummers in the audience loved the sections that featured a drum set in the pit. They also featured a wicked harmonica. Centerville proved to be a band that played to the audience and whose main purpose was to entertain the crowd, making them one of the most must see bands of the decade.
After their 1990 GN finals appearance, Norwin (PA) went into a bit of a slump. Just the previous year in 94 they fell just outside of the top 20 in prelims. When they made finals this year there was a lot of people saying "Norwin is back"! They were certainly much improved over the last several seasons. They had an American themed show; interesting and well performed; easily their best show since 1989. The general effect judges scores are what actually pushed them to a 7th place finish in finals. This was Norwin's 9th GN finals appearance. I was sure we would be seeing more of them, but this was sadly their last finals appearance. In both 96 (which was really a surprise) and 97 they came close but failed to make finals. A third attempt in 2011 saw them in semi finals but several placements away from finals. They would however continue to be a dominate force in BOA regionals across the northeast. They racked up several more regional titles the later half of the 90s. In 1999, I think they would have made GN finals had they attended. In the early 2000s, their legendary director LJ Hancock passed away. This left a notable void in the program. Subsequent directors have however maintained a program that is still one of the best in the state. In the 2010s, Norwin racked up a ton of regional titles; although many of the regionals were not as competitive as their regional wins in the 80s. As of Sep 2019, Norwin had 28 regional titles under their belt; more than any other band. They have also been a BOA regional finalist more than any other band.
Returning to nationals for their first appearance since 91 was West Genesee (NY) who finished 8th. Their show was about Gettysburg and featured props, amplified vocals, even some mock cannons. Amongst the frills was a strong show. This was their 6th finals appearance and it would be their last. They have not attended Grand Nationals since. They have however remained a New York state power house ever since. Like many other New York band programs, their performance levels dropped a bit during the 2000s and 2010s. During the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, New York had some of the best bands in the country. That simply is not the case these days. While West Genesee did not attend another GN after this season, they would attend BOA regionals periodically. Over the last 20 years, their placement at the regionals they have attended have gradually dropped. West Genesee is still regarded as the all time most successful marching band from New York and they have amassed around 40 New State titles going all the way back to the early 1970s.
In 9th place was Westerville South (OH). I am sure their 94 show was hard to follow this season. They did have some much talked about props on the field. Two large black props that band members could march on top of and underneath; a unique feature at the time. This was the last year that their director Dustin Werner was with the band. His scandalous departure was notable on the program. They still had another year in finals ahead of them though.
Making their second trip to nationals and second GN finals appearance was Etiwanda (CA) in 10th. They were a much better band than their 92 debut (they were actually fifth in prelims). They were one of several bands who staged the pit in the back of the field to bring the band up in front of the front sidelines. Notable again was their solid percussion and guard performance.
In 11th place was Lafayette (KY) who had not attended GN since their 83 finals debut. This Kentucky powerhouse from the 70s and early 80s hit a slight slump in the late 80s before roaring back with a state title in 1990. They won the state title in their class every year of this decade. Their show "Treasures of the Czar" had wonderful music. A Lafayette trademark was that their shows had a bit of an 'old school' element to them. For instance, their drill was very symmetrical and reminiscent of drill designs of the mid/late 80s. Thankfully, they remained a consistent participant of BOA regionals through the rest of the decade. However it would be 9 years before they would return to Grand Nationals.
Like 94, Union (OK) finished 13th in prelims. This year, since 14 bands were advanced to finals, there was no unlucky 13th spot so Union got to perform in finals and finished 12th. Their Olympic themed show had a ton of Olympic ring symbols throughout. The bands uniforms were also adorned with rings. Always a strong color guard back then, the Union guard had some of the best flag routines this season.
Prospect (IL) finished 13th in finals. This was their fifth and sadly last finals appearance. This was not however the last of strong shows by Prospect. They remained a strong competitor at BOA regionals well into the 2000s (even winning a regional in 2001). In following years that they attended GN, they would be a semi finalist but would fall short of making finals again. Although Prospect has not been as frequent a BOA participant as in earlier years, they have remained occasional regional finalists. They also remain one of the strongest programs in the state of Illinois.
Some of the chatter about the last band in finals was American who? and really a Utah band in finals? American Fork (UT) from the Utah city of the same name made history this season by becoming the first and only Utah band to make GN finals (Skyview and Mountain Crest were finalist in the summer nationals of the 1980s). They finished 14th in finals. There was a lot of comments on forums by some saying they should not have been in or that BOA put them in because they wanted more bands from the west to attend. That was simply not true. I think there was just a big performance gap between the 13th place band and those who placed 14th to 17th. In fact only two judges had placed them in the top 14. It was their combined scores that gave them the edge over the other bubble bands. This was American Fork's first and only finals appearance. They would not attend Grand Nationals again for 10 years. Since the mid 2000s, American Fork has emerged as a much stronger band than what they were in the 90s. Their GN appearances have landed them solidly in semi finals. They have yet to be able to make finals again (competition is just so much stronger these days). Over the last 10+ years they have also won numerous BOA regional titles (mainly those held in Utah and Nevada).
This year it was the unlucky number 15th spot to just miss finals. That went to Mona Shores (MI) who was only two tenths of a point behind American Fork. This is the closest Mona Shores would ever come to making finals. In 16th was Northglenn (CO), their highest finish at nationals. Bouncing back from their lackluster performance at the Toledo Regional was Jenison (MI) in 17th. Rounding out the top 20 were Carmel (IN) in 18th, Ooltewah (TN) in 19th and Lake Central (IN) in 20th.
As far as I know, 95 Center Grove is not on YouTube. I will include links to 95 Westfield (it is high cam and a little grainy), 95 Marian Catholic (the audio has some static) and 95 Lake Park. Other finalist bands that may still be on YouTube (some earlier season) include; Plymouth-Canton, West Genesee, Westerville South, Etiwanda, Lafayette and Union.
Thanks to the anonymous benefactor- you know who you are.
My minor bias, first: For how much hyped the show was in general, it did disappoint my 2019-self a bit. Nearly 24 years later, it feels rather dated to me, namely because we've seen more modern versions of the "warped" theme since and the drill in general was very '90s, lots of movement but not quite the definition of "embodying the show theme". However, many shows of the same era were similar (barring the legendary 1993 Spring show), so this is a small irrelevant gripe on my part. Also, I'm am not quite educated on the '90s as I hope to be. I'm running off shaky knowledge here, so feel free to correct me as you want, Buff.
Center Grove 1995 was sorts of a game-changer (that is, before 1999). Shows of that time leaned heavily on music selections to build on GE, because there really hasn't been a blueprint for fully understanding how to stage the field. Marian Catholic shows, Kiski Area 1994, Centerville 1992, Spring 1993*, Lassiter 1998, Lake Park 1995, and more were iconic due to music selections. There was props, there were tarps, yes, but no one really had the visual aspect of show design figured out quite yet. From what I remember, Center Grove 1995 was the first to unlock the visual GE aspect as a major scoring component (0.7 points ahead of 3rd in Visual GE!). Combine that with that powerful, highly difficult visual performance and Center Grove was able to win Grand Nationals. Let's not forget about the terrific color guard then too, both in skill and costume design.
Can you find them? They're on the field.
Notice how the greens on the back of their uniform match the football field. Yep. That's what made them great. Story goes that they were as impossible to find on the field once they turned their backs, even in person. It really adds to the bizarre presentation Center Grove had.
Finally... here's the spool threads Buff was talking about.
They were apparently tall, too. The height of the prop behind the threads were as tall as the color guard themselves. I'm pretty sure I know how they work (without any confirmed sources here), but how do you all think they were able to control the "eyes"?
It's great to finally see the staging that many had talked about. I remember a small tidbit of this show before recently. This show was it's incredibly important in understanding how the pageantry arts evolved through the years. If anything, I have no doubt that this show led to one of the most important and influential legacies in BOA.
*I realize Spring 1993 had god-tier drill, hence being hypocritical here on visual, but as far as staging went, they obviously didn't have props or anything of the sort, which is why I grouped them with the rest.
Post by boahistorybuff on Sept 6, 2019 11:35:48 GMT -6
Thanks so much for the comments and post about Center Grove 95. That 95 show was absolutely revolutionary in terms of show design. In fact, Center Grove remained one of the biggest innovators in visual design right through the end of the 1990s. A lot of styles that have been so common the last 10 to 20 years got their start in the 1990s. In terms of the visual designs of today, I am sure that what was done in the 1990s does look a lot more simplistic. At the time, that Center Grove show was anything but simplistic. It took us all a while to figure out what was exactly going on in that show. Personally, I think a lot of what is done today is overkill, probably because I was in the activity in the late 80s/90s; a totally different era in the marching arts.
As I gradually move out of the seasons that to many of you is probably Ancient BOA, and into more recent history, I hope more chime in with some of their comments/memories from the particular seasons.
Thanks so much for the comments and post about Center Grove 95. That 95 show was absolutely revolutionary in terms of show design. In fact, Center Grove remained one of the biggest innovators in visual design right through the end of the 1990s. A lot of styles that have been so common the last 10 to 20 years got their start in the 1990s. In terms of the visual designs of today, I am sure that what was done in the 1990s does look a lot more simplistic. At the time, that Center Grove show was anything but simplistic. It took us all a while to figure out what was exactly going on in that show. Personally, I think a lot of what is done today is overkill, probably because I was in the activity in the late 80s/90s; a totally different era in the marching arts.
As I gradually move out of the seasons that to many of you is probably Ancient BOA, and into more recent history, I hope more chime in with some of their comments/memories from the particular seasons.
You're absolutely right on that front. We'll see those design choices as you proceed through the decade.
Your work in the former BOA History thread and the this is immeasurable. Many of us are learning things that scores that don't tell. I'm looking forward to the post-'00s shows as we can begin adding our anecdotes.
My opinions on this site are not representative of the Hornrank team and moderators unless stated otherwise.
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to continue on what thewho said, Center Grove 1995 is the single most influential BOA show, and has changed the activity more than any other show. It is a must watch. (Although, i will say, the show has not aged as well as some of the other older shows... I think I first saw a VHS recording of the show in 1998 and it already felt dated, but it absolutely set the stage for BOA competitiveness for the next 10-15 years)
This was the first show that completely unified all three captions into 1 singular entity. It was the birth of the "Narrative" show that so heavily dominated the late 90's- and 2000's (and still going strong today). Prior to CG '95 shows were title or "Theme" based, and relied heavily on the music to portray that (ie... Lake Parks "The Music of..." shows, Marian's "Music of a composer" shows, PCEP's broadway shows, Kiski and Centerville single style jazz shows, etc...). The music is what sold the theme, and the visual, while technically proficient, was always secondary. CG '95 was the first show to give equal weight to the visual package in terms of creating a unified show idea. This is the first show to figure out how to effectivly use the visual GE caption.
This show gave birth to the modern day GE caption. After 1995, if you wanted to be competitive, you had to design for and maximize the GE caption. No longer could you get by on executing music and drill on technical merit alone. A show had to have a reason for the music and drill to be happening. A show needed a "why?".
At the time this show was completely out of left field, but within 2 years, every competitive band had adopted this style (to be honest, CG '95 is basically Star of Indiana '93, it just took 2 years for someone to figure out how to adapt it to BOA). In 1996 the Indiana BOA bands (including 1st time finalist Carmel) had adopted this style, in 1997 every single finalist had adopted this style, and by 1998 a majority of the bands not moving out of prelims had adopted this style.
While Center Grove may have introduced it, Plymouth Canton perfected it. PCEP 1998-2001 shows are the pinnacle of what CG '95 introduced to the activity. I'm sure there will be plenty of discussion when BOAHistory gets to it, but PCEP '99 is the masterclass of the "Narrative" show and is still the best show ever produced (although many others have come close... PCEP '98 and '01, Tarpon '00, RR '03 and '05, BA '06 and '10, Avon '05 and '07, Marian '08, Carmel '16 and '18)
It wouldn't be until LD Bell 2007 that another show would have as big of an impact on the activity as Center Grove 1995 did. LD Bell '07 gave birth to the "Theatrical" show, where staging become the primary emphasis. LD Bell had great success with his style, and not surprisingly a lot of Texas bands quickly followed suit, and by 2010 it seemed to have spread across the activity. While no one can deny the absolute musical dominance Texas bands have with this style, the visual package takes a backseat to the theatrics and staging elements. This style of show is not so much for me (it seems more akin to blockbuster movies... where surprise endings and pre shows and an overload of props and rolling around the field and body movement and speculation on what they will add for finals has replaced a cohesive visual design and quality marching. Its all very much a fiery car crash of woodwind runs performed while sitting on a prop and aggressively bare teethed color guards reaching their arms out at nothing while slowly moving their wide eyed heads around in circles)... I won't go into much detail about this here, as it is probably more relevant to wait until we get to the late 2000's.
I will end with this... Center Grove '95 and LD Bell '07 are basically the reasons we have Indiana vs. Texas discussions. Carmel is the only band to figure out how to dissect the most successful elements of each these two styles and combine them into one, hence the reason they are so dominate right now. I do have a feeling that this year is the year that others have also figured it out.
Very well written. I agree with some of your comments regarding show design, but regarding Center Grove, their music performances (sans 1998), were not up to par of the other great groups of the time. They were trendsetters on the visual side, with a fantastic colorguard, but that is about it. Westfield was superior to them in 1995. I would even put Marian Catholic 1995 over that program if they did not have such a lackluster visual performance in finals (per video only- I was not there).
Center Grove's best all-around show of that era was in 1998 and it was a bit of a departure from the 1995, 96, 97, 99 shows. Visually, they were very much at/near the top, but overall not so much. I never really understood the fascination within the context of a marching band program (visual should never outrank a music performance).
Dallasman.... completely agree. Everyone knew Center Groves achilles heel was always music. There is a reason they never come close to winning a second time. Despite top 3 finishes in ‘95 ‘96 ‘97 ‘98 ‘99, I don’t think they ever placed in the top 3 in the music caption, with the exception of ‘95, and they were at least .5 points behind Westfield.
I was making the argument that CG ‘95 was all about moving the emphasis towards show design, and how the visual package can be a major part of that. I don’t think the visual or the music should be the priority for marching band, it’s the balanace between the two that is successful. Like I said, Center Grove invented it, Plymouth Canton perfected it. There is a reason PCEP took a whole slew of caption awards in all 3 categories from 96-01.
I also agree CG ‘98 is the best show they put out during this era. A lot of people will hold their ‘99 show as the best, but it was so one note they couldn’t even squeeze 7 and a half minutes out of it.
Post by boahistorybuff on Sept 14, 2019 8:04:43 GMT -6
Love the comments. With the fall season here and these forums now public, I will take a little more time between season reviews; giving the new members some time to catch up and me some time to watch 2019 performances.
Post by boahistorybuff on Sept 18, 2019 7:30:04 GMT -6
...1996 SEASON REVIEW...
By 1996, the trends that had been underway through the course of the decade continued. In terms of visual, there were several bands who were experimenting more with body movement. Now going all the way back into the drum features of the early 1980s, there were a few instances where bands would break from the traditional marching format and utilize body movement to enhance the visual. This became a little more frequent by the mid 1990s and it was not done strictly during the drum feature, although it would be nearly 20 years before wide ranging body movement became used much more frequently during the show. Also on the visual front, bands were now marching more (less standing still) and many were placing much more demand on the marcher through more intricate and difficult drill designs. On the music front, bands were choosing more difficult musical selections or taking old classics and performing them with a more difficult arrangement. Bands were playing more notes, and having more tempo changes throughout the show. I suspect performances from earlier in the decade from bands like Marian, Spring, Westfield, and Lake Park had some influence on this. While many bands still had percussion features, the percussion (and whole music performance for that matter) was much more balanced throughout the show. It had now been 14 years since the start of the pit. The wide array of instruments, including electronics, being performed in the pit were really adding to the music. This decade saw a strong emphasis on a quality music performance. The growing number of schools participating in winter guard also seemed to have an influence on the marching bands guard performances. So much dance was now being incorporated into the guard routine. The use of weapons (rifles and sabers) was also making a comeback in a big way. By 1996, it had also become the norm for the color guard to wear an outfit fitting the theme of the show. Gone were the days where guards wore the same or similar attire from one season to the next.
A total of ten regionals were held in 1996. Like the previous year, the first regional of the season was held in Cincinnati, OH. Given that this was the year of the Lake Park (IL) Lancers, it was fitting that they not only won this regional, they won it by just over seven points. Surprising also that this was a relatively competitive regional. Every judge had Lake Park in first by a comfortable margin. Clustered relatively close together in 2nd through 5th place was Carmel (IN), Prospect (IL), Westerville South (OH) and Centerville (OH). Rather surprising was that the defending Grand National Champion Center Grove (IN) was 8th; of course this was a very early regional (Sep 21). The Morgantown, WV regional was moved to Charleston, WV this season. Kiski Area (PA) not only won this regional comfortably, every single judge had them in fist. About three and half points down and comfortably in 2nd was Norwin (PA). Webster (NY) and Adair County (KY) were several points down in 3rd and 4th. BOA held a regional in Bensalem, PA this season. This was the first of many years of holding a regional in the Mid Atlantic or Northeastern US. Despite the high population centers that these regionals would draw from, the participation at these regionals never really matched the other regionals across the country. Many of the bands in this region were more competitive in other marching circuits (US Bands has a big presence in this region of the country). This regional was won by Northwestern Lehigh (PA), in their very first BOA competition. They were a Class A band. If you discard the 1985 Whitewater regional (which for some reason Marian Catholic was in Class A at this regional??), you have to go all the way back to 1982 when Class A bands won a regional title [Herscher (IL) and Danville (KY)]. Runner up at this regional was Piscataway (NJ), the closest this band would ever come to winning a regional. Not too far behind in 3rd and 4th was Herndon (VA) and Liverpool (NY) [that's NY and not PA as indicated by the results page]. The Houston, TX regional was held a little earlier in October. Westfield (TX) won this regional comfortably. They would go on to win the Texas UIL state title in their class later in the season. The video of 1996 Westfield finally surfaced on YouTube. It was a great show; strong and powerful music as usual. Had they attended GN this season, they would have no doubt been in contention for the title. Winston Churchill (TX) came in 2nd, upstaging Spring (TX) who had to settle for 3rd. An up and coming band named Stephen F Austin (TX) came in 4th. The Woodlands (TX) made regional finals in their first BOA competition; a relatively new high school at the time. At the Johnson City, TN regional, Lafayette (KY) won, this being their first regional title. Irmo (SC) would have to settle for 2nd, with North Hardin (KY) a close third. In 4th, was an up and coming Kentucky band named Paul Laurence Dunbar who was now under the direction of Jeff Hood; former director of George Rogers Clark.
The Toledo, OH was moved a little later in the season; mid October. It was very competitive with 5 strong performances at the top. Norwin (PA) managed to pull off the win despite a brutally low score by the visual effect judge. This win marked the first regional win for Norwin since 1989. Just a few tenths of a point down in 2nd was Plymouth-Canton (MI). Not too far down in 3rd, 4th and 5th was Westerville South (OH), Centerville (OH) and Lakeland (MI). The Atlanta, GA regional was really close with the top two bands. McGavock (TN) edged out 2nd place Irmo (SC) for the win by a mere 0.05 of a point. This was the second time that Irmo would have to settle for being runner up for the regional title this season. This was McGavock's third and last regional win. Not too far down in 3rd, and winner of the music performance award, was Tarpon Springs (FL) in their very first BOA competition. Alan C Pope (GA not SC) was comfortably in 4th. After the last few years, it seemed the California regionals were really taking off. This year, the regional was held in Torrance, CA and for some reason the attendance was much lower than previous years. There were also some big name California bands (most notably Etiwanda) who did not attend. Mission Viejo (CA) pulled off the win, their first and only BOA regional title. Valley View (CA) was 2nd, their highest finish at a BOA regional. Clustered in 3rd, 4th, and 5th was Upland (CA), Mt Carmel (CA) and American Fork (UT). There was no San Antonio regional this season. The second Texas regional was held late in the season in Denton. Based on the scores, there were 2 bands that were clearly ahead of the pack. Leander (TX) came in 1st. This was Leander's first regional win (it would be 19 years before they won their 2nd). Leander also became the first Austin area band to win a BOA regional. In second by just under a point was Union (OK). Clustered in 3rd, 4th and 5th was The Colony (TX), Richland (TX) [whose new director was Springs old director], and Broken Arrow (OK). Both of the Texas regionals were well attended, a sign that more and more Texas bands were entering the BOA circuit. The last regional of the season, just a week prior to Grand Nationals, was Indianapolis, IN. Unlike 95, this was a very competitive regional. Indy has since remained very competitive. Given this regional was only a week prior to GN, you would think that the scores and placements would give an indication has to how these bands would do at nationals. That was not the case. I am not sure if it was the judging panel or what, but the next weeks scores and results did not indicate how you would have thought the bands would do based on the scores from this regional (I never actually saw this regional). The only exception was that Lake Park (IL) won. Lake Park became the first band since George Rogers Clark in 1991 to win two regionals in the same season (as more and more regionals were added, this became a regular occurrence from season to season). Carmel (IN) was 2nd and Prospect (IL) was 3rd. Prospect did not attend GN this season but they certainly would have been a finalist contender as 96 was one of Prospect's best seasons. Center Grove (IN) was 3rd with Marian Catholic (IL) 4th; a head scratcher after watching their GN performances. Lawrence Central (IN) down in 7th was also a bit surprising after seeing their GN performance.
This year marked a major change in the format to Grand Nationals. It was expanded from a two day event into a three day event with the addition of a semi finals. Prelims would now be held on Thursday and Friday and each day would have their own judging panel. Semi Finals would then be held Saturday morning and afternoon, with finals still occurring Saturday evening. Although the number of bands in semi finals has varied over the years, how bands are selected to semi finals has remained relatively unchanged. The top placing bands from each prelims group would be selected, then the next highest scores from the two combined prelim days and then the top two in each class from both Thursday and Friday, if these bands were not already included. Class Champions would now be based on semi finals performance. In 1996 and 1997 the top 10 scoring bands regardless of class were selected for Grand National finals. They bumped it back up to 12 in 1998. This also brought the selection for finalists bands back down to one judging panel as opposed the class championships format which had been occurring since 1991. This change was something that had been needed for several years. With semi finals, it allowed the fans to get a good look at all the top bands rather than have to bounce in and out of prelims. It also gave more bands the opportunity to perform more than just once. Most bands that attended Grand Nationals knew they did not have a shot at finals. The semi finals format gave bands that were pretty good, just maybe not finalist level, something to strive for. Over the years, making semi finals has become for many bands what making finals used to be back in the earlier years. A total of 79 bands attended the 1996 Grand Nationals. Semi finals consisted of 30 bands this year. In later years, as the number of strong larger school band programs grew, it became common for Class A bands (and Class AA in more recent years) to be advanced to semi finals on class. This would lead to more than 30 bands in semis and in recent years what has seemed insanely early start times for semi finals.
Right from the first year of semi finals, there would be at least one band that would fail to make semis that surprised everyone. I think this year that band was Lakeland (MI). This is based on how well they did at the Toledo regional, coming very close in score to some top level BOA power houses, then winning the Flight 2 Michigan state title, which by the mid 90s was highly competitive. I fully expected them to place in the top 20 in semi finals. What I am guessing was a lackluster prelims performance cost them a spot in semi finals. This was a big disappointment as this year was one of Lakeland's strongest seasons ever. Coming into Grand Nationals this year, Lake Park was heavily favored to win given what they had been doing earlier in the season. They had also beaten all of the heavy hitters that would be attending earlier in the season with the exception of Kiski Area. During the class championship awards it was actually a bit surprising when Center Grove (IN) won the Class AAA title and Lake Park (IL) came in 2nd. Center Grove had also won GE and Visual while Lake Park just picked up Music. Even though Center Grove was the defending Grand National Champion, their scores and placements earlier in the season had many people counting them out as a contender until the Semi Finals awards. 3rd in Class AAA went to Plymouth-Canton (MI). In Class AA, Marian Catholic won the Class title with Kiski Area coming in 2nd. Marian won music and GE with Kiski taking visual. Marian actually won semi finals; of course we did not know that during the awards. Ooltewah (TN) was 3rd in Class AA. Northwestern Lehigh (PA) won the Class A title. This was their first year in BOA and they won a regional, made GN semi finals and won their class. This ended up being the first and last year Northwestern Lehigh participated in BOA; I guess they had a director change the following year. Belbrook (OH) was a close 2nd in Class A with Hazard (KY) 3rd. Upon conclusion of semi finals, it was pretty clear that there would be four bands vying for the GN title; Marian, Center Grove, Lake Park and Kiski. Before the list of finalist bands, there was also a lot of speculation has to who would make the finals cut with just 10 bands that would be advanced. After semi finals, the top 8 were clearly finalist worthy. I had about 5 to 6 bands that I thought had the potential to nab just 2 remaining finalist slots. It was clear there was going to be some good bands who would miss finals.
Perhaps Lake Park (IL) held back a little in semi finals, saving their energy for finals. They delivered a strong performance in finals to win their first and only Grand National title and for their director Ken Snoeck. In a way, this win seemed long overdue. At the time, they had been the Illinois State Grand Champions consecutively since 1989, they had the second most GN finals appearances (just one fewer than Marian) and had placed in the top five in finals every year since 1987, including being runner up to the title three times. It would have been such a shame if this band never won a GN title. Their show was titled "Queen of Spades" and featured Vesti La Guibba; Overture to Pique Dame; La Danza; Nessun Dorma! What made 96 Lake Park so hard to beat all season was that they were so very clean, both musically and visually. That translated right into Grand National finals. They had a strong music performance (tying Marian for music performance), with a great rich sound quality and several soft and subtle moments; a very controlled performance. This music was well arranged and had so many nuances. This type of classical music was right in their wheelhouse. They also had a clean and polished marching style (they were 2nd in visual performance) and had exceptionally clean drill execution. A really cool moment occurred when a couple moving diamonds and a heart morphed into a detailed and perfectly formed spade; hitting right with the music. Toward the end of the show they built to a grand finish during their closer Nessun Dorma. For many of the 'old school type' in the audience there was appreciation that there was not added frills in this show (such as props and vocals). It was simply clean marching and wonderful music. That said, I still think they could have put a touch more emotion into the performance (they played it a bit safe at times) and the guard could have been a touch cleaner. Every judge had Lake Park either first or second except one of the music effect judges who had them fourth. This prevented them from winning music effect, but they scored an impressive 19.9 from the visual effect judge which won them the General Effect award and certainly helped them win by a fairly comfortable margin.
Based on earlier season scores and placements (they were actually 6th in Indiana Class A state competition), I suspect that 2nd place Center Grove (IN) peaked right at Grand Nationals this year. It was a difficult show, which I am sure took some time to get down. Their show was titled "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night' and packed a ton of music into a relatively short show. They had a large circular gray tarp in the middle of the field which they used in a brilliant way to enhance their drill design. They had segments of body movements (including laying on the ground) that was done in ways which really enhanced the visual effect; they did this better than any other band. This was a show that was best viewed from higher up. These body movements and their crisp and clean marching style earned them the visual performance award and a 19.9 from the visual ensemble judge. Also have to mention their great drum line and clean world class guard.
Kiski Area (PA) wound up third in finals. They did music from George Gershwin; some of his more famous jazz pieces. Kiski was just nailing this type of jazz music season after season during this era and the music was always so fun to listen to. This show was also extremely clean, both musically and visually. I actually think this was a stronger performance than their second place finish in 94 (and it scored a little higher); perhaps just lacking some of the wow factor that the 94 show had.
Marian Catholic (IL) did not just win semi finals, they ended up getting the highest score in the entire competition in semi finals. There have been several more instances where the highest score was from semi finals and not finals. Marian's show was not quite as strong in finals and they ended up placing 4th (they did tie for the music performance award). Their show "The Sea, The Earth, The Air" was a little softer/slower than earlier years, but wow was the music strong; they won music effect. They also had some interesting visual effect moments with the back of the bands jackets being much darker than the front (sections with some of the band facing front and some facing back gave a neat look from above). Had they delivered the show that they had done in semi finals, they would have been neck and neck with Lake Park; hard to tell how a separate judging panel would have scored them.
Colorado is a state that has had some pretty good bands over the years, mainly coming from metro Denver or Colorado Springs. In 95 we saw Northglen get close to finals. In 93 and 94 a band by the name of Pomona was in the top 20, finishing as high as 14th in 94. Given that the bands from the front range metro regions of Colorado have always been a long distance from a BOA regional, there has not been a lot of BOA participation among Colorado bands. This year Pomona HS, from Arvada, CO just outside Denver made GN finals, becoming the first and only Colorado band to do so. I don't think any of us were expecting the performance we got out of Pomona this year as they had not attended a BOA regional (too far away for them). Wow did they blow us away. They performed Belshazzar's Feast (made popular by 1990 Star of Indiana). The drill was fast and difficult at times. Much of the music was loud and in your face. The brass performance was incredible. I think for many, this was their favorite show at nationals this season. With their finals performance, it was no surprise that they placed 5th in their first finals appearance. Almost unbelievable that this was also their last GN finals performance, even though they remained a Colorado powerhouse well into the 2000s. They just missed finals in 97, finishing 11th (they would have been in if 12 bands had been selected). They again just missed finals in 98, finishing 13th. Another trip to GN in 2003 saw them place 14th (so close). They did attend a few BOA regionals in the 2000s and finished near the top, but just short of picking up a regional title. I am sure this 96 performance was one that this band cherished for many years.
In 6th place was Lawrence Central HS, from Indianapolis, IN in their first finals appearance. They participated in Grand Nationals back in 1985 but were not quite the band they were in the mid 90s. They placed 35th at Grand Nationals in 85. They were just not quite ready for BOA at that point in time. They then underwent a rapid improving trend during the early 90s. When Randy Greenwell and Matt James took over as directors in the early/mid 90s, they rose to prominence in Indiana state competition, placing 2nd this season. This was their first trip to GN since 1985 and they were now a much different band. Their show "Legend of the Phoenix" featured interesting and well played music and a very solid visual performance; including great drill design. They had a bassoon solo feature. I doubt this was the first bassoon or even oboe solo but it was the first I had seen one. While bassoons and oboes don't work well being marched on the field, they are very effective as solos or ensembles grounded and playing into a microphone. Over the coming years, solos and ensembles featuring double reed instruments would become very popular. LC also had a world class guard with some really awesome rifles. This was actually one of my favorite LC shows. This performance was certainly an indicator that this band had future potential. Also of note that the other Lawrence (North) was a semi finalist this season.
In 1990, it seemed that Carmel HS, from Carmel, IN was ready to hit the big time as they almost won a BOA regional and won the Indiana Class A state title. Their performances and placements then slipped over the next few years. They first attended Grand Nationals in 1994. In both 94 and 95 they placed in the top 20 but were just not quite finalist ready. This season, they were a completely new band, much improved over the last few years. Being runner up at two BOA regionals this season certainly had them a finalist contender and they certainly delivered in semi finals, then finished 7th in finals; their very first BOA GN finals appearance (they have not looked back since; as they have been a GN finalist every year since). Their show this year "Matisse" was notable for the great musical performance and sound quality that they delivered. The visual design was also pretty solid (the Indiana bands really made a statement in visual design at nationals this season). This also marked the first time since 1986 that more than two Indiana bands were in GN finals.
Plymouth-Canton (MI) finished 8th in finals with their show which featured music of the Wizard of Oz and The Wiz. After having done such dark shows the previous several years it was kind of refreshing to see PCEP do something a little more light hearted. You could tell the band loved performing this show and it was enjoyable for the audience. There was a section where the guard rode bicycles in formation across the field. I think it has since become mandatory that a Wizard of Oz themed show uses bicycles. LOL I think their semi finals performance was a touch better than finals (they were 5th in semis). I think PCEP along with Marian may have found it a little more challenging this season to put three performances together at nationals than just two as these two bands usually really delivered in finals. This was actually PCEP's lowest finish in finals in the entire decade.
With a new director this season, I was somewhat worried about Westerville South (OH). They managed to edge into finals after finishing tenth in semis and then wound up 9th in finals. Their show was titled "The Wall", two decades before that phrase would become a politically divisive term. Of course there was some Pink Floyd played in this show. They used multiple prop panels and drill design to create the wall which was center to the show theme. From a visual design standpoint, I think this show was pretty innovative for the time. Although not as solid a performance as their shows earlier in the decade, there were a lot of folks who really liked this show; myself included. This was Westerville South's 10th finals appearance and was sadly their last (they were 12th in 97 so would have been in finals had twelve bands been selected). During the late 90s and early 2000s the band underwent a rapid decline. From what I understand there was a lot of internal strife between the director, the school administration and the parents. Staff started leaving and the membership dropped; they actually failed to field a band in 2003. For a time, it seemed that their neighboring high school Westerville North would take over as a BOA power house. Financial cuts during the early 2000s then affected both programs. Over the last decade, the Westerville school district has built up their music program. There has also been the addition of a third high school; Westerville Central. These schools have marching bands that compete across Ohio but not in the BOA circuit. I don't think they are quite top BOA level ready; maybe in the future. I should point out that during the 80s and 90s, Westerville South was not only a ten time GN finalist and two time regional Champion, they were regional finalists at over 40 BOA regionals.
Rounding out the finalists in 10th place was Centerville (OH); the Centerville Jazz Band. I was a bit worried about them making finals as they had not been having as much success at the regional level this season. They brought it to nationals though and had a great show. They infused some Latin music with their jazz this season; a little departure from their typical style. They really played it well and as usual they delivered a fun show to watch. It was actually their visual scores from semi finals that got them into finals.
So this season it was the unlucky number 11th spot that just missed finals and that band was Irmo (SC). The music and visual performance judges actually had them in (they were 4th in music performance). It was the general effect judges that kept them out, with their score falling a half point shy of finals. This was certainly the best I had heard Irmo play; I thought better than their 91 and 92 finals appearances. Competition was just tougher this season. So it was probably a bit of a heartbreaking season in BOA for Irmo as they were runner up at two regionals and then just missed out on finals.
In 12th in semi finals was McGavock (TN). This was actually my favorite McGavock show of the decade and I actually think their best. Again, competition was tough. It is a shame that they decided only to have 10 bands in finals this season because both Irmo and McGavock had shows that were worthy of being in finals. McGavock, along with Norwin and Northwestern Lehigh, became the first bands to enter Grand Nationals having won a BOA regional earlier in the season and then fail to make finals. Prior to this season, when a band won a regional and then attended nationals that same season, it was almost a given that they would make finals. This season indicated that that would no longer be the case as more and more regionals were held and nationals became more competitive.
After their success in 95 and after winning the Toledo regional this season (by beating PCEP, Westerville South and Centerville), I was sure Norwin (PA) would be in finals. I just simply think they did not have the best semi finals performance and wound up 13th. It was an indication that would end up being played out time and time again; a lot of bands were going to need to pull off strong shows in semi finals if they had a chance to make finals.
Rounding out the top 20 were Ooltewah (TN) in 14th, North Hardin (KY) in 15th [their first trip to nationals since their 89 finals performance], Lake Central (IN) in 16th, Marietta (OH) in 17th, Greenbrier East (WV) in 18th , Paul Laurence Dunbar (KY) in 19th and Reeths-Puffer (MI) in 20th.
All of the 96 finalist performances are on YouTube. I will include links to the top 4 bands as they all were clearly above the pack at this seasons nationals.
- Lake Park presented their second best show ever! 1993 was their strongest, but was upstaged by Spring. Honorable mentions are their 1997 and 1989 shows. They dominated for most of the season, but were caught at Grand Nationals. One of the best ensemble sounds of the 80s/90s -- they really hit their peak around this time. A joy to listen to. Visually, they were also extremely good- one of the Top 5 HS programs on visual technique. Not the wildest on their drill, but Ken Snoeck is a legend + BOA HOF for a reason. Awesome show.
- Carmel surprised many this year but just ran out of steam late. Still was a nice finals-worthy show. Many of Carmel's shows in the 90s were good but not quite to the level of Homestead. This year began to change that, along with Lawrence Central.
- Pomona delivered one of the most memorable finals performances of the decade. That POWER still resonates to this day. I hope people can view this fantastic performance at some point somewhere.
- Marian Catholic actually placed fifth at BOA Indy, nearly four points behind Lake Park with one week to go. Most, including myself, wrote them off for being a title contender that year (Top 5 sure, but not #1). I mean, how many programs (at that time) could make such a leap? Oh, them. A massive mistake on my part. I am not sure if they would have held on going into finals, but a rumor surfaced that a significant portion of their band came down ill with a virus or some kind of sickness prior to finals. What terrible timing! Their demand was clearly above the rest of the field this particular year. This would be the first of two consecutive semi-final wins for them.
- I attended one TX regional this year and was blown away. Not in the way that people are blown away by SA today, but Winston Churchill HS had a very solid finals performance. The potential within this program would not be realized in a major way on the national level in the coming years, but finishing a pretty strong 2nd place to what I believe should have been defending GN Champion Westfield was incredible for that program.
I think there's a video of Pomona 1996 from Colorado state championships floating out there somewhere (or at least from my memory).
Of course, I wasn't there in 1996, but it's been said that Pomona was loudest show ever performed. This was one of the few times that a drum corps comparison was apt- apparently Pomona blew Star of Indiana 1990 completely out of water. If you want a comparison, take Avon 2018's last chord and crank it all the way up. It was that loud!
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Post by twhsalumniparent on Sept 18, 2019 10:46:12 GMT -6
While I certainly can make no comparison to Pomona '96, Vandegrift really outputs volume with outstanding tone and control. I hope they bring that to Grand Nationals this year for those of you who have not had the opportunity to hear them live.
Northwestern Lehigh is my school. Yes, in 1997, the director did leave for another job in PA. I don't really know how the program was between 97-mid00s was but the band did compete in TOB and USBands, along with other circuits. We have been non-competitive since I believe 2013 or 2014. This year, we have had another director change and the program has been heading in a pretty great direction for some years now. As a freshman, I can't wait to see how we grow in the coming years. We are not by any means making a return to BOA or significant competing in general, but we are still definitely heading in the right direction.
By the way, if anyone has a video of that 1996 performance from NWL, that would be amazing to see.
I saw them in 96 but have never stumbled across the video.
Post by twhsalumniparent on Sept 19, 2019 12:31:54 GMT -6
I'm very surprised to look at the 1996 scores, and note that my old high school (Grant County, KY) had a higher music score than Centerville in prelims (both ind and ens). They lacked GE, so missed out on semi-finals, but their music and visual performance scores were 9th and 12th respectively.