Post by boahistorybuff on Feb 14, 2020 4:35:15 GMT -6
...2009 SEASON REVIEW...
This was the year that BOA went from a three class system to a four class system. They essentially split the large school class into a 3A and 4A class. In my opinion this was a long time coming. Over the previous couple decades, rapidly growing suburban communities were building larger high schools or expanding their existing high schools, capable of accommodating many more students than those built in the 60s, 70s or 80s. This led to a larger spread among the sizes of schools competing in BOA. The growing number of very large high schools was simply making the old Class AAA too large. BOA also did not want to take away the chances for bands from smaller schools from picking up class titles.
This being the last season of the decade, it is interesting to look back at the changes that occurred over the 2000s. The show themes became increasingly more sophisticated and creative. A wider array of musical selections and genres were being incorporated into one show; which occurred through brilliant music arrangements. Band members were moving their bodies a lot more, often times breaking from the strict military marching style. Uniforms were more artistically designed and made of material that allowed for a wider range of motion. Those of us in the audience were also being witness to bands that were really challenging themselves both musically and visually. This included the color guards. The last few decades had seen a lot of growth in winter guard programs. This was really showing itself in how much stronger the marching band color guards had become. Bands were also striving to make their shows more interesting to the audience. I have often heard those who have been in the band programs of the 2000s and 2010s refer to the marching band shows from the 70s, 80s and even 90s as being somewhat boring. I guess seeing how the shows have developed over the last two decades I can kind of understand that view point.
A total of 14 regionals were held this season, including three super regionals. The season started Sep 26th at the Louisville, KY regional. Weather delays led to the cancellation of finals. So the results which were based on prelims had Carmel (IN) winning; every judge had them in first place. In 2nd was Ben Davis (IN). Ben Davis is one of the best bands to have never won a BOA regional. Second place is the closest they ever got. In a not too distant 3rd was Columbus North (IN). The next weekend featured regionals in Centerville, OH and Pearland, TX. At Centerville, Carmel (IN) won their second regional of the season. Centerville (OH) gave them a run for their money but had to settle for 2nd. In 3rd was a band that was proving on the rise; William Mason (OH). At Pearland, it was tight at the top with four bands. Stephen F Austin (TX) placed 1st and took visual. Cedar Park (TX) came in 2nd and was just two tenths a point lower than SFA. Another band I consider one of the best bands not to win a BOA regional, 2nd place is the closest Cedar Park has come to winning a regional title. A point lower in 3rd was The Woodlands (TX) who actually won GE. In 4th was James Bowie (TX) who picked up music. The next weekend at Arlington, TX, LD Bell (TX) walked away with the win, beating 2nd place Marcus (TX) by almost a point. These two bands were head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. The Towson, MD regional was attended by just 13 bands. Westminster (MD) won. This was their 2nd regional title and first win since 2003. Bridgewater-Raritan (NJ) was in 2nd, the closest they would ever get to a regional title. The Ypsilanti, MI regional turned out to be a tough battle at the top. After finishing second in prelims, Lawrence Central (IN) came out on top in finals. This was their ninth and last BOA regional title. The band they edged out was Plymouth-Canton (MI) who came in 2nd. Reeths-Puffer (MI) was 3rd.
At the St Louis Super Regional, Broken Arrow (OK) came out on top and swept the highest achievement awards. Marian Catholic (IL) was a respectable 2nd with Centerville (OH) in 3rd. Also the weekend of St Louis was the Massillon, OH regional. The top three bands were pretty close, with Kiski Area (PA) winning the title. I was surprised it was so close because I thought it was the strongest I had seen Kiski at this point in the season for several years. Fort Mill (SC) was 2nd with Norwin (PA) in a very close 3rd. The San Antonio Super Regional was a little earlier in the season this year (Oct 23-24), which is why the scores were a bit lower than previous years. A total of 14 Texas bands comprised finals. LD Bell (TX) walked away with the Super Regional title and won visual and GE. In 2nd was Marcus (TX) who claimed music. The Woodlands (TX) was about a point and a half down in 3rd, followed closely by James Bowie (TX) in 4th. This was a rare instance where the top 4 bands at San Antonio all attended Grand Nationals later in the season. Rounding out the top six was Cedar Park (TX) in 5th and Richland (TX) in 6th. A resurging Spring (TX) landed in 7th. Also the weekend of San Antonio was West Chester, PA. Rain delays caused the cancellation of finals, so the results were based on prelims. While Lassiter (GA) was the overwhelming favorite to win, they actually only won by just under a point. Their visual scores were their Achilles heel. This was their ninth regional title. While not their last, it was their last win with director Alfred Watkins. In a strong 2nd was Norwin (PA) with West Johnston (NC) in 3rd.
The Atlanta Super Regional was won by Tarpon Springs (FL). Their show revolved around the Jason Bourne trilogy. They really brought the concept of an outdoor performance ensemble to life with this show. The props, constant motion and the way they sold this show was impressive. I really wished they took this show to nationals. Kennesaw Mountain (GA) gave a strong performance and finished 2nd. These two bands both broke 90 points. Harrison (GA) was 3rd while Wando (SC) was 4th and Carleton J Kell (GA) was 5th. At the Santa Clarita, CA regional, Ayala (CA) sustained a half point penalty but still won by over two points. William S Hart (CA) was 2nd , closely followed by Clovis West (CA) in 3rd and Upland (CA) in 4th. The weekend before Grand Nationals this season featured the Indianapolis, IN and St George, UT regionals. At St George, American Fork (UT) walked away with their 2nd BOA regional title and swept the highest achievement awards. Clovis West (CA) was 2nd with JM Hanks (TX) in 3rd. The Indianapolis, IN regional had four bands break 90 points. Avon (IN) walked away with the title and swept the highest achievement awards. Carmel (IN) was a relatively close 2nd. Lawrence Central (IN) was 3rd with Marian Catholic (IL) in 4th.
Ninety One bands participated in the 2009 Bands of America Grand Nationals with 34 advancing to Semi Finals. Given how well they had performed their demanding show a week earlier at Indy, Avon seemed the favorite to win the GN title assuming they pulled off a clean show. Based on the roster, it was clear this was going to be a competitive nationals. Some other names being tossed around as potential eagle contenders included; LD Bell, Carmel and Broken Arrow. Upon conclusion of Semi Finals, the Class 4A title went to Avon (IN). So Avon became the first band to win this new class at GN. This was the third class title for Avon in three different classes. No other band has had GN class titles in three different classes. The Avon school district must have had some explosive growth this decade. Avon also walked away with visual and GE in 4A. LD Bell (TX) was 2nd in class 4A while Marcus (TX) was 3rd and took music. The Class 3A title went to Center Grove (IN). This was their third GN class title and first time winning it since 1997. Obviously they benefited from the split in the large class. Center Grove swept the 3A highest achievement awards and ended up being the only Class AAA band to make finals this year. 2nd in 3A was Lafayette (KY) and West Johnston (NC) was 3rd. There was absolutely no surprise that Marian Catholic (IL) won the Class AA title and swept the 2A highest achievement awards. I actually thought they should be in 3A since they were so much stronger than all other 2A bands. North Hardin (KY) ended up 2nd in Class AA with Belbrook (OH) 3rd. The Class A title went to Bourbon County (KY) for the second year in a row. Bourbon was heavily favored to win this. They also swept the Class A highest achievement awards. Williamstown (KY) was 2nd in 1A with Springs Valley (IN) 3rd. So upon the conclusion of semi finals, Avon was still favored to win, but LD Bell was quite strong too. I will say this was an awesome Grand National finals. At the time I thought Grand Nationals could not get any better (boy was I wrong). The top three placing bands in finals actually gave Grand National champion worthy performances, but only one could take home the eagle.
So it was Avon (IN) that placed 1st and walked away with their second consecutive Grand National title. This was the first time since 1991 that a band defended their title. Their show was titled "Comm-UNIFORM-ity" and featured; Samuel Barber's Symphony Numbers 1 and 2. In the opener, the band and guard were in all black and had black masks on their faces. During the ballad in the middle, they took their masks and hats off, a touch of gold also appeared. The guard also sported some purple flags in the ballad. Then in the closer, the band and guard were in all gold, including gold masks. At the very end a guard emerged in purple and the band revealed purple gloves. While the concept seemed overall simple, the music and drill were anything but simple. There were some amazing technical moments by the band; especially the brass in the opener and the drum line throughout. They just attacked this show with confidence and executed it so well. The ballad was also well played and emotional. Of course I have to mention the strong performance by the Avon guard; those rifles WOW! In typical Avon style, the faster the band played, the faster they moved. The ending, where the band collapses into a circle on the field and the guard tosses their flags out put an exclamation point on this powerful show. They were second in music performance and strong with the music effect scores (although they were third by a narrow margin). Their visual scores really propelled them into 1st. They tied Marian for visual performance and their very high visual effect score allowed them to tie Bell for GE. I actually thought this show was better than their 08 performance even though it did not score as high.
In 2nd place was LD Bell (TX). They actually tied Marian for 2nd but their higher GE score gave them 2nd place. Their show was titled "Prayer For Light". The band sported uniforms specially designed for this show; all white, yellow and gold. The band seemed to enter the field as rays of light. Overall, this show was a bit slower and melodic but really impactful. The music and visuals flowed extremely well. The vocal narrator in an Indian accent added to this unique performance. As had become the norm with Bell, the music was just enjoyable to listen to. I loved some of the subtle yet effect percussion features too. The emotion just flowed off the field and no doubt helped them earn a first place (in a tie) score for overall music effect. Their visual effect score gave Bell the higher overall GE score over Marian which allowed them to place 2nd. This was the second consecutive year that Bell was runner up to the GN title. This was also the year that Van Mathews took over as director from Jeremy Earnhart.
Marian Catholic (IL) did not only have massive improvement in the week leading into nationals, they improved both in score and placement from prelims to semi finals to finals. In finals, they ended up tying for the second highest score. Bell's higher GE score meant Marian placed 3rd, their highest finish since 2002. Had it not been for the two strong performances at the top, Marian would have been a worthy Grand National champ this year. They put forth a very clean show which really showcased some moments of musical genius. Their show was titled "The Nightingale: A Parable of Gilded Cages". The story had a distinct Japanese theme with some cages featuring in the visual design of the drill. Some of the musical selections were actually the same as their 1997 show "Images of the Orient". The guard, all decked out in Japanese attire, actually took their heavy make up off in a symbolic moment in the show; the first I had ever seen a guard do that in a performance. They ended up tying Avon for the visual performance award, the first time in ten years they won that in GN finals. They also tied Bell with the combined music effect scores.
Making their debut at Grand Nationals this season was Marcus HS, from Flower Mound, TX; a Dallas/Ft Worth Suburb. Thanks to their success at the BOA Texas regionals the last few years and online videos, the BOA world outside of Texas knew what to expect with this band. That of course was a strong performance, especially from a musical standpoint. They certainly delivered and won the music performance award in finals (they were heavily favored to win this). The strength of their shows the previous few seasons actually made their Grand Nationals debut a highly anticipated one. Their show "A Midsummer Night's Dream", was based on the Shakespeare comedy. It even featured a wedding scene. Marcus extended the length of the show a bit from what they typically did and added a little more visual difficulty; probably for Grand Nationals. Their classical musical selections were played so well with such an amazing ensemble sound. They ended up placing 4th (just 0.05 points ahead of fifth) as they received a .2 point penalty and had a couple visual scores that prevented them from scoring higher. This year would be the start of Marcus attending Grand Nationals once every four years.
Carmel (IN) placed 5th with their show "Virtue-OSITY". This was another show filled with classical music. Featured soloists included a cello, piano and flute. The cellist was on the field during the opener. The piano player was actually staged on a seesaw prop. It was definitely a unique prop, with guard members bouncing on it at times. The piano player did an awesome performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto Number 3. The last few drill segments of this show were also extremely fast and difficult. Carmel handled that difficulty really well.
This year BOA allowed those watching online to vote for their favorite performance. The fan favorite went to 6th place Broken Arrow (OK). This was the third year in a row they placed 6th. Their show was titled "Rite of the Raptor". The melody from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was heard throughout the show (so much so it was hard to get it out of your head after watching the performance). This was yet another BA show where the music and visuals just flowed brilliantly. Not only did the guard take on the role of the raptor, the band did as well. There were several sections where the band broke from form and moved about as though they were raptors. This type of movement, where the band breaks out of the formation and moves about was nothing new, but I don't think any other band had done it so extensively as BA did at that time. Turns out this visual style (featuring a lot of individual moves at times) would become much more common over the coming years.
When I heard that The Woodlands (TX) show this season was titled "Amen", I thought it would be an overall slower/softer show. While it did have some slow parts, most of it was up tempo and loud. There was quite a bit of vocalization and a pretty cool guitar feature. Also have to mention some wonderful drum features in this show. There was also a section where the percussion did some percussion sounds with their vocals, a technique first done by the Bluecoats in DCI a few years earlier. It got a huge response from the audience. The Woodlands ended up finishing in 7th place.
In 8th place was Lawrence Central (IN) with their show "To Begin Again". They tackled current news events very directly in this show, which was about the financial recession that hit the nation at the end of this decade. Through props and flags they focused on the greed and obsession with money that led to the 2008 financial meltdown and then ended on a positive note about renewal, or rising out of the recession. This was yet another solid show from LC, especially on the visual front. I was a bit surprised they did not place higher. I kind of thought their visual scores could have been higher. Their clean guard performance also helped on the visual front. On the video, there was a small section cut out do to BOA not being able to get licensing. With bands packing more musical selections into their programs, licensing had become a huge obstacle for BOA.
Center Grove (IN) was making it a habit of bouncing right back the season after missing finals. They did it again this year and ended up with a 9th place finish in finals; this after nabbing the 3A title in semis. I personally loved this show, "Music Box Macabre". It featured a giant music box prop and a violin player with darken eyes (adding the macabre flare). The band really played up the dark theme of this show; even playing a piece from the movie Edward Sissorhands. Historically known as having a strong percussion section, they had a really good feature in this show which showcased their percussion. This ended up being Center Grove's highest finish at nationals since 2003.
Returning to Grand Nationals in their second finals appearance was James Bowie (TX) who finished 10th. They actually slid into finals by finishing twelfth in semi finals. Bowie had a much better show than their GN debut in 2006; really strong musically. Their show was titled "The Mystic". They tackled some pretty challenging music in this show. In addition to the strong music, there was a section where the drill (with the use of a prop) created a moving dragon-like figure. It was a hit with the crowd.
Making their first appearance in not only Grand Nationals, but also Grand National finals was Wando HS from Mt Pleasant, SC (outside of Charleston). They finished 11th in finals. Wando had been on a gradual improving trend for the better part of the decade. They had just won their 5th consecutive South Carolina state title this season. They became only the second South Carolina band to be a GN finalist. Their show was titled "Beyond". It had several colorful props on the field and was overall a high energy performance. You could tell that they were really enjoying this experience. Thankfully Wando would make more appearances in GN finals as they were still a band on the rise.
The 12th place band in finals was Centerville (OH) with their show "ICON: The Art of Elvis". This show was packed full of Elvis songs and songs about Elvis. They really built this show up to the end when the guard guy representing Elvis runs off the field. The show ends with the announcement "Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building." In typical Centerville fashion, the number one goal of this show seemed to be to entertain the audience. This was Centerville's 19th GN finals appearance. Sadly, it was their last. Centerville did not fade away though. They remained (and still remain) a near consistent regional finalist and Grand National semi finalist. They even picked up a couple more regional titles.
Despite having a much better season than 2008, Plymouth-Canton (MI) wound up in the unlucky number 13th spot in semi finals. It was a shame that they did not make the finals because they had some of the most innovative props ever this season. In their show "Beneath the Surface", they had props that the band emerged from at the beginning of the show, then descended into at the end. These props were broken apart, moved around the field, stoop on end, and all sorts of things. The music performance judges just did not think this show was quite finals worthy. In 14th was Lafayette (KY). This was Lafayette's fourth appearance at Grand Nationals over a 25 year time period and the first time they failed to make finals. In 15th was American Fork (UT). They overcame a tragedy this season. On the way to a competition, one of their busses was involved in an accident and an instructor was killed while helping to save the lives of the students on the bus. American Fork was not scheduled to attend this year (they had attended last year). They were invited last minute and within just a week or two their community raised the money to send this band to Indy, all the way from Utah. The band honored that instructor in their show and BOA awarded them the Esprit de Corps award. Rounding out the top 20 were Lake Park (IL) in 16th, Ben Davis (IN) in 17th, Owasso (OK) in 18th, West Johnston (NC) in 19th and William Mason (OH) in 20th. This was the first time William Mason finished in the top 20 at nationals.
Below are the top three performances: