2014 Grand National Finals Review

2014 Grand National Finals Review

By Michael Boo

With assistance from bloggers Michael Reed, Megan Bonfield, and Christopher Drake.

November 15, 2014
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

It was another great experience for everyone at Music for All’s 2014 Bands of America Grand National Championships. The four days of events was presented by Yamaha, a company whose commitment to Music for All and untold thousands of music students continues to grow.

The events in Indianapolis officially launched the yearlong 40th Anniversary celebration of Bands of America, which will culminate in Lucas Oil Stadium during November 11-14, 2015. To add to the celebration, it was announced the Bands of America Honor Band has been invited to march in the New Years Day Tournament of Roses Parades of 2017 and 2021.

In the Indianapolis Marching Band Tournament, held on Wednesday night, Crispus Attucks HS won gold in Class A, followed by Northwest HS. Arsenal Technical HS won Class B, with Emmerich Manual HS in 2nd.

After Prelims on Thursday and Friday, the following 35 bands (listed in performance order) advanced into Semi-Finals: Milford HS (OH), Bellbrook HS (OH), Walled Lake Central HS (MI), Norton HS (OH), Archbishop Alter HS (OH), Reeths-Puffer HS (MI), North Hardin HS (KY), Castle HS (IN), Adair County HS (KY), Broken Arrow HS (OK), Lake Central HS (IN), O’Fallon HS (IL), Flower Mound HS (TX), Avon HS (IN), Dobyns-Bennett HS (TN), Franklin HS (TN), Center Grove HS (IN), Wando HS (SC), Marian Catholic HS (IL), Owasso HS, (OK), Centerville HS (OH), Homestead HS (IN), Carmel HS (IN), Plymouth Canton Educational Park (MI), Wakeland HS (TX), Kennesaw Mountain HS (GA), William Mason HS (OH), Lafayette HS (LA), Lawrence Township HS (IN), Tarpon Springs HS (FL), Union HS (OK), Upland HS (CA), Cary Senior HS (NC), Ben Davis HS (IN), and Panther Creek HS (NC).

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

In Class A, Adair County HS took Outstanding Music Performance, Outstanding Visual Performance, and Outstanding General Effect, finishing 1st in the class. Bellbrook HS took 2nd and Archbishop Alter HS 3rd. In

Class AA, Tarpon Springs HS won the class by capturing all three caption awards, followed by Marian Catholic HS in 2nd and North Hardin HS in 3rd.

Class AAA Music and General Effect honors went to 1st place Kennesaw Mountain HS, with Dobyns-Bennett HS finishing in 2nd and Wakeland HS taking 3rd place and top honors in Visual Performance.

In Class AAAA, Broken Arrow HS took 1st and won General Effect. Avon HS took 2nd place and tied Carmel HS for Visual Performance, while 3rd place Carmel won Music Performance.

The Finalist bands were randomly announced as being Broken Arrow HS, Tarpon Springs HS, Kennesaw Mountain HS, Lawrence Township HS, Avon HS, Marian Catholic HS, Carmel HS, Flower Mound HS, William Mason HS, Wando HS, Union HS, and Homestead HS.

Finals started with a performance of a march by the 100th United States Army Band, followed by the band leading the audience in “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Following was an exhibition by the Class A Champion Adair County HS band.

At the start of the finale, the Illinois State University Big Red Marching Band drum line played the finalist bands onto the field. After a video montage of the bands from the entire Grand Nationals, placements and special awards were announced.

The Al Castronovo Espirit de Corps Award was presented to Marian Catholic HS.
Tarpon Springs HS won both the Grand Finals Outstanding Music Performance Award and the Outstanding General Effect Award. Broken Arrow HS won the Steve Brubaker Outstanding Visual Performance Award.

During the finale, William Mason HS received an invitation to perform in the 2016 Pasadena Tournament of Roses® Parade. Music for All has a current partnership with the Tournament of Roses®, who selects a band from among the Grand National Semi-Finals to extend the distinct honor of an invitation to perform in the Rose Parade®.

Tarpon Springs HS, 1st place: 97.15
For those who like their visual feasts to be as never-ending as an all-you-can-eat pasta dish at Olive Garden, Man Vs. Machine filled up their insatiable appetite for more, and then some. With half the guard appearing as human muscles and the other half as machines, the eternal question was who would come out on top, keeping the giant blue orb spinning through its cosmos-traveling journey.

Broken Arrow HS, 2nd place: 97.00
When the guard emerged from the mouths of the giant faces spread across the FACEme field, one could feel a chill go down one’s trachea. Eerie and disturbing, the show demanded one not look away, but come “face-to-face” with that which haunts us. The scary faces then turned into inquisitive countenances, looking upwards with hope as the winds disappeared behind the faces, now multiplied on each skirt of the guard.

Avon HS, 3rd place: 95.35
Avon’s guard, as moths, was continually Drawn to the Flame, unable to resist the temptation to go where they knew they shouldn’t. The guard’s frenetic fluttering across the field would tire the most in-shape lepidopterans among us. At the end, the enticement of the flames was just too much to bear, and both moths and audience took the plunge, going down, down, down as the flames went higher.

Carmel HS, 4th place: 94.90
As the caravan of gypsy psychic readers rolled into town in five covered wagons, In the Cards provided fortunes to those eager to open their destinies to the fates. For some, love awaited, but others only had the sweet sting of death in their future, seen in the skeleton hands of the flags. But ultimately, love conquered all, asserting that one’s destiny is more prone to commitment than providence.

William Mason HS, 5th place: 92.05
Once Upon a Time explored the evil behind Maleficent, the villainous fairy in Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” who proclaimed herself, “Mistress of All Evil.” She also appeared in the form of a dragon, slithering across the field during the production. The show was expressed from her point of view, the cackling heard during happy-go-lucky music representing the fun she was having in being purely evil.

Flower Mound HS, 6th place: 90.05
Vividly shocking colors wrapped the band in Harmonic Tapestries, inspired by the environmental artwork of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who famously wrapped buildings, islands, and large expanses of nature, and apparently, a large box of nine bassoonists. Colors of the most famous wrappings by the artists permeated the show, making even the most colorblind person see in Technicolor.

Wando HS, 7th place: 89.45*
Of Things Unseen told the story of Joan of Arc, the 15th Century French heroine and saint who was burned at the stake by the English. Joan was a central character throughout the show, leading the band through the travails of martyrdom. A recurring oboe feature captured the youthful innocence of Joan, the show ending as she was lifted into Heaven on wings of angels, true to her calling to the end.

Homestead HS, 8th place: 89.45*
In Dance of the Wind Spirits, guard members wore large translucent white angel wings that more than doubled their height, floating through a mystical garden of mushrooms in an imaginary forest. The spirit of new life springing forth throughout nature continually opened up new vistas to explore, leading the audience and the nymphs towards ever more charming discoveries.

Kennesaw Mountain HS, 9th place: 88.80
The Final Peace addressed the tranquility within oneself that is so often elusive. Colorful tarps of flowers floated in ponds, connected by eight footbridges, turning the field into a massive Zen garden of repose from the stresses of modern life. Relentless frenzy was always just a few steps away from the transcendent power of inner peace, if one just takes the time to smell the water lilies.

Marian Catholic HS, 10th place: 87.45
Rapture of the Deep took us beneath the waves to explore inner space. Guard members dressed as early divers, complete with diver down flags, dove deep into the abyss to discover new forms of sea life incomprehensible to those not under the influence of nitrogen narcosis. It was a fanta-sea of epic proportions, a voyage to 20,000 leagues under the sea that landlubbers would just not understand.

Union HS, 11th place: 86.55
Caged Bird, with ten large birdcages on the field, explored the eternal quest to be free. Members became trapped in the cages at the will of others, but always managed to escape back into the wild. We were reminded that freedom is a universal desire, but is often fleeting. At the end, caged walls surrounded the entire band, providing just enough distraction for the final caged bird to fly free.

Lawrence Township HS, 12th place: 86.45
The Green Table was based on the 1932 choreographed modern dance of the same name, which explored the senselessness and horror of war. Throughout the work, people were faceless pawns, seemingly destined to face extermination at the hands of death. The show poignantly interspersed moments of frivolity amidst the doom that instructed us that we don’t need to succumb to the absurdity of conflict.

(*In the event of a tied final score, the band with the higher General Effect total receives the higher placement.)

For many years, Michael Boo has covered a large variety of pageantry events. He is the Staff Writer for Drum Corps International and has written for BOA and WGI for much of the existence of the two organizations. Michael Reed writes and blogs for WGI Indoor Marching Percussion and Color Guard events. Megan Bonfield and Christopher Drake are both Staff Writers for IndianaMarching.com.

See Grand National results by list – as well as all 2014 BOA Championship awards results.