Suburban marching bands face off at Wheeling High School
Jacobs High School's marching band took the field first Saturday at Wheeling High School's Chicagoland Marching Band Festival, and it signaled the start of the unexpected.
When students combined Claude Debussy's familiar theme with the prelude from Hitchcock's thriller, "Psycho," fans knew they were in for more than the traditional halftime show. And their show earned them second place in their class.
"Our show combines two things you never would think would go together," said senior drum major Corrin Littlefield of Algonquin. "The drill complements it beautifully, with some flowing, lyrical sections, while others are staccato and linear."
In all, 22 marching bands took the field in the 47th annual festival, run by parents in the Wheeling Instrumental League and Wheeling Band Director Brian Logan.
"Marching bands are better than ever," said Logan, whose Wildcat Marching Band performed in exhibition, around a jazzy, blues-themed show. "The activity has become more musical -- and athletic."
Members of Mundelein High School's marching band performed one of the few programs designed around a movie score. They opened their set by forming the dotted I, before launching into a program that featured music from the Pixar film, "The Incredibles."
"We have all sorts of formations going on; there's something always happening," said senior saxophone player Danica Vendiola of Mundelein. "It's really challenging, but entertaining for the audience. They not only see the formations, but they hear the music that pulls it all together."
Neuqua Valley High School's marching band performed the only other movie-themed show of the night, playing five selections from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story."
Dallas Niermeyer, one of 10 judges who evaluated the bands, said that the majority of high school marching bands are following the lead set by competitive drum corps programs.
"It puts a stronger emphasis on the percussion section, in particular up front, with the xylophones, timpani and stationary drum sets," Niermeyer said. "But it also gives the wind players more control of their instruments and allows the color guard to be more involved."
Glenbrook North High School color guard members donned cowboy outfits and a sheriff ran across the field in chase of a bank robber while the band performed sections of Aaron Copland's "Hoedown" for their "Go West!" show.
The largest bands in the show came on near the end and they all seemed to feature a classical side of marching band programs.
Fremd High School's marching band opened with a section from Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. Prospect High School's program featured music of contemporary composer, Andrew Rudin, with the impressionistic music of Debussy. The program won the Lancer's Joust at Lake Park High School just one week ago and garnered the Knights the grand champion title Saturday as well as first place in their class.
The award-winning marching band from Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights performed last, in a show that demonstrated their musicianship and drama, as they built to the finale with percussion-driven "Kronos Wartet" from the film, "Star Trek Into Darkness." The school would take second in Class AAA behind Prospect High.
Other winners include Rolling Meadows which won second place in Class AA, Lake Park which placed second in Class AA and took the overall drum major title.