2012 Grand National Championships in Review

2012 Grand National Championships in Review

By Michael Reed and Michael Boo
November 7-10 2012
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

Lucas Oil Stadium has seen its share of big-ticket events this year, starting with the Super Bowl and continuing with the Drum Corps International World Championships and then the Music for All Bands of America Grand National Championships. The stadium has imprinted itself on the psyches of countless pageantry arts fans and the most recent BOA show has done nothing to lessen that.

The four days of events were presented by Yamaha, a company whose commitment to Music for All and thousands upon thousands of music students only grows as it marches through the second year of its second half century in America. 

After Prelims on Thursday and Friday, the following 33 bands (listed in performance order) advanced into Semi-Finals: Norton HS (OH), Forest Park Jr./Sr. HS (IN), La Salle HS (OH), Western HS (IN), Bellevue West HS (NE), Goshen HS (IN), Bridgewater-Raritan HS (NJ), Nation Ford HS (SC), Ben Davis HS (IN), William Mason HS (OH), Franklin HS (TN), Ronald Reagan HS (TX), Centerville HS (OH), James Bowie HS (TX), Marian Catholic HS (IL), Greenwood Community HS (IN), Center Grove HS (IN), Avon HS (IN), Lafayette HS (LA), Kennesaw Mountain HS (GA), Carmel HS (IN), North Hardin HS (GA), Plymouth-Canton Educational Park (MI), Rockford HS (MI), George Walton HS (GA), Tarpon Springs HS (FL), Union HS (OK), Lawrence Central HS (IN), Broken Arrow HS (OK), Lake Central HS (IN), Bourbon County HS (KY), Jenison HS (MI), Walled Lake Central HS (MI) and Northmont HS (OH).

After the performances of all Semi-Finals bands and the exhibition of the Western Carolina University Marching Band, caption and placement awards were presented to the top bands in each of the four competitive Semi-Finals classes. 

At the end of Semi-Finals, caption and placement awards were presented in all four classes. In Class A, Western HS won Outstanding Music Performance, Norton HS won Outstanding Visual Performance, and Forest Park Jr./Sr. HS won Outstanding General Effect. Western took 1st place in the class, followed by Forest Park in 2nd and Norton in 3rd. 

Class AA Outstanding Music Performance, Outstanding General Effect and a tie for Outstanding Visual Performance went to Tarpon Springs HS, with Marian Catholic HS also tying for Visual Performance. Tarpon Springs took 1st place, Marian Catholic 2nd and Nation Ford HS 3rd.

All three Class AAA awards went to Kennesaw Mountain HS, which took 1st in the class, followed by Franklin HS in 2nd and Bellevue West HS in 3rd. In Class AAAA, Outstanding Music Performance went to Carmel HS, a tie for Outstanding Visual Performance honors went to both Carmel and Broken Arrow HS, and Outstanding General Effect went to Broken Arrow. Carmel took 1st place, Broken Arrow 2nd and James Bowie HS 3rd.

Finals started with an exhibition by the Class A Champion Western HS band and concluded with the announcement of scores during the finale. The Honor Band of America Drum Line, in Indianapolis to prepare for the Tournament of Roses® Parade, played all finalist bands onto the field for the finale, which also included a performance by American Idol performer Shaun Canon.

In Finals, Grand Champion Carmel received an invitation to perform in the 2014 Pasadena Tournament of Roses® Parade, and also took the Outstanding Music Performance Award. Broken Arrow won the Steve Brubaker Outstanding Visual Performance Award and the Outstanding General Effect Award. For the first time ever, the Al Castronova Espirit de Corps Award was won by two bands. Bridgewater-Raritan HS of New Jersey came to Indianapolis less than two weeks after living through the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy and was hosted and cared for by Avon (IN) HS band members and supporters. The story of these two bands served as inspiration at an event that saw members of all bands share a sense of camaraderie and the joy of music with each other.

Carmel H.S., IN
A Tangled Web We Weave was built around the children’s song, “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Nine geodesic dome structures provided nesting places for the guard of black widows, with a large meandering drill form spider menacingly surveying the audience for its next meal. Despite gingerly navigating the webbing, the entire band became caught in it at the end, with no hope of escape. 1st place: 95.85

Broken Arrow H.S., OK
Gas mask-wearing band members escaping the smoke of an ash heap-laden battle zone captured the horror of war in the otherworldly landscape of Surrender to Hope. From opening war drums through air raid sirens and to the engulfing of the band by giant explosions of fabric, this show threw one eerie effect after another at the corneas and eardrums of the shell-shocked audience. 2nd place: 95.70

Avon H.S., IN
The overindulgence of extreme opulence heartlessly contrasted with the scarcity faced by the common folk in Feast or Famine, providing a pitying-yet-sometimes humorous look at conditions leading up to the French Revolution. Banquet table gluttony and pies in the face mocked the conditions of the downtrodden, highlighting a cultural disparity with parallels to today’s society. 3rd place: 93.90

Tarpon Springs H.S., FL
Poisoned told the Brothers Grimm fairytale story of Snow White and her nemesis, the envious queen. The word “EVIL” appeared in the drill as the queen entered atop the backs of her servants, as well as the poisoned apple form presented to Snow White. The drabness of the queen was offset by the vivid colors of Snow White, constantly reminding us who is naughty and who is nice. 4th place: 93.80

Marian Catholic H.S., IL
Man’s inhumanity to man and the choice between non-violent coexistence and violent co-annihilation was highlighted in My Brother’s Keeper. Music pierced like stabs to the soul while the band formed a giant chain of oppression. Concentration camp survivors watched over the devastating folly, ending with the resonating caution of Martin Luther King’s 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” speech. 5th place: 92.90

James Bowie H.S., TX
Dome tents as planetary spheres drifted slowly through the heavens, as Stellae Errantes (The Wandering Stars) brought the solar system within telescopic view, illuminating the firmaments with LED lighting on the uniforms and guard equipment. Comets raced past the stars and within the orbits of the constellations, presenting an aura of grandeur on an intergalactic scale. 6th place: 89.85

Kennesaw Mountain H.S., GA
Everyone loves a circus, but one might be wary of staying too long at the dark carnival hallucination of Deliver Me. Whimsical with a sinister undertone, the distorted voices of the performers invited us to “join up” with the Fellini-esque spectacle. But the freedom came with a price, betrayed by the menacing laughter. Of particular interest was how the uniforms changed colors to the music. 7th place: 89.15

William Mason H.S., OH
This Land took us on a journey to Africa, with the guard costumed as zebras, antelopes and giraffes. Musicians moved in character with the animals as symbols like those on tribal masks appeared in the drill. A thundershower brought the rainy season to the plains and towards the end of the safari, the large predator-eye flags seemed as if the entire jungle was watching us. 8th place: 87.65

Center Grove H.S., IN
The majestic music of Baroque composer J.S. Bach imbued The Guardians with an ornate elegance; gradually bringing to life multitudes of motionless gargoyles perched across the field on ladders simulating cathedral towers. Delicately spreading double flags as if wings, the creatures attempted to take flight, but were stymied by the stony eternalness of their being. 9th place: 87.60

Lawrence Central H.S.
Col Legno is named for the string instrument technique of stings sounded by the wood of a bow. Throughout, wood was used for visual effects, the on-field construction of physical sets and the intensity of rhythmic propulsion. A huge variety of amplified wooden sounds accompanied the physical appearance of an ax in the drill that was utilized to metaphorically chop wood. 10th place: 87.3

Ronald Reagan H.S.
For the band’s 10th anniversary of its first appearance in the BOA Grand Nationals Finals, their special sudden change of plume colors was updated with the addition of lights in Let It Shine. Lights on the uniforms supported the lights covering the field, creating a shimmer that seemed to make every blade of stadium turf come alive with the fluorescent pulsation of the sparkling music. 11th place: 87.30

Plymouth-Canton Ed. Park, MI
The Last Dance was a peek at our uncertain world, starting carefree but interrupted by unnerving sounds and a flood of gray fabric leaving a trail of destruction. To “Time in a Bottle,” the band formed a giant hourglass and poured from the top into the bottom like sifting sand, unable to recapture what was lost. Yet hope prevailed at the end, reminding us to never give up. 12th place: 84.95

For many years, Michael Reed and Michael Boo have covered a large variety of pageantry events. Michael Reed covers winter guard and indoor marching percussion events for WGI, plus other events for BOA. Michael Boo is the Staff Writer for Drum Corps International and has written for BOA and WGI for 

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