By Carson Gerber Kokomo Tribune
---- — Three area high school bands are heading to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Saturday to compete in the Indiana State School Music Association state marching band competitions.
Western’s Marching Panthers, Eastern’s Comet Command and Lewis Cass’s Marching Kings all made it through the semi-state competition held last Saturday.
Western will be defending a 5-year winning streak, where they’ve cinched the champion title in the Class C competition. Since 1981, there’s only been four years the band hasn’t made it to the state finals. In total, the band has landed 13 state titles.
“We’ve had a very, very long string of great state performances,” said band director Brian Caldwell. “It’s an amazing testament to how hard the students and the parents work. This school really supports the arts, and without that, none of this could be possible.”
He said the 118 students in the band have been practicing their show called “Under the Desert Sun” every day for the last few weeks to gear up for the final performance.
“The students are very focused,” Caldwell said. “They know what they need to do to prepare, and they’re doing it. … We’re really striving to put on our best performance out on the field, and put some emotion into it.”
Western may have a stellar winning history, but it’s tough to beat Lewis Cass’s Marching Kings, who are preparing to perform in their 32nd consecutive state competition.
The band has placed in the top three every year since 2007 in the Class D category, and won first place in 2011. They received third place last year.
Alan Hinshaw, junior high band director and assistant band director for the high school, said band members seem excited about what they did at semi-state and what they could do Saturday.
“They have practiced very hard and have shown determination and desire to be all they can be this Saturday,” Hinshaw said. “I know whatever they do they will be successful.”
Going up against Lewis Cass will be Eastern’s Comet Command, who will also perform in the Class D competition.
For the last five years, the band has made it four times to the state finals. Since 1985, they’ve made 16 total trips, but have yet to claim the title.
Band director Joel Matthews said he hopes to change that this year with their program called “Outside the Box.”
With its 62 members, the band will perform original music published just this year depicting how people get beyond the boundaries placed around them.
“The moral of the story is to think outside the box,” Matthews said.
He said he hopes the band will come home with a state title Saturday, but that isn’t the real goal.
“I just want them to go and put on their best show, and to keep improving with every performance,” Matthews said. “Winning a title would just be icing on the cake.”
In total, there are four ISSMA competition classes based on school size. Each state final performance class will feature 10 bands from around Indiana.
The entire day of competition begins at 9 am. Western will take the field at 2:33 p.m. The Class D competition begins at 4:30 p.m. with Eastern, followed by Lewis Cass at 4:43 p.m.
Tickets for the full day are $20 for adults and $18 for children ages 3 to 18. Children under 3 will be admitted free. Each band will be given a limited number of tickets to sell to band families. Tickets can be purchased at the Lucas Oil Stadium box office windows the day of competition.
Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pharos-Tribune reporter Amie Sites contributed to this story.