The Mason Marching Band finished the season on a high note at the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis Saturday.
Ninety-two bands from across the nation competed Nov. 10-12 at Lucas Oil Field in what is considered to the “Super Bowl” of competitions for high school marching bands.
Mason High School was one of just 12 bands to advance to the Grand National finals, where they finished as the top-placing Ohio band and tenth in the nation.
See photos of the Mason Marching Band’s performances
“Everything we worked towards for four years came down to that moment,” said senior Paige Pfennig, a percussionist. “It was a perfect way to end my senior year of marching band.”
The national competition began with preliminary rounds Thursday and Friday, with the top 33 teams advancing to the semi-final competition on Saturday. Of the 33 semi-finalists, 12 bands earned the chance to perform in finals.
It was Mason’s first time making the cut.
“It’s the Mecca of the marching band world to get to finals,” said band booster Diane Pfennig. “Last year we were tenths of a point away from making finals. This year we really wanted to crack that top 12.”
Breaking through required months of dedication from the 260-member band, said band director Micah Ewing – and an army of parent-volunteers who built props, sewed uniforms and flags and ferried students to and from band practices.
“The kids are very hardworking and make a lot of sacrifices,” said Ewing. ” This show would not have been possible without our parents — their ingenuity and artisanship was amazing.”
School is barely out of session when band members begin the season with a weeklong mini-band camp session in June. In August, they attend a two-week band camp, followed by after-school practices four days a week, Friday night football game performances and Saturday competitions.
“It’s a tough lifestyle, but it’s really rewarding in the end,” said junior Mark O’Connor, who plays baritone.
The band’s arrangement, “A Winter Solstice,” proved to be a technically-challenging number for many members, said Ewing. It included the piece, “Winter” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”
“The show was very upbeat, kind of like that feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and there’s six-inches of snow on the ground and everything is bright and white and you’re happy to get the call that school is cancelled,” he said.
Winning is nothing new for the Mason band. The band placed tops in their class at the Mid-States Band Association championship on Nov. 5 and was one of two bands selected to participate in The Best of the Midwest concert at New York City’s Carnegie Hall earlier this year.
But earning a spot among the top 12 bands in the nation marks a whole new playing field, band members say, and it’s not a position they will relinquish without a fight.
“When I took that last breath and saw the standing ovation, it was just absolutely incredible,” said O’Connor. “We’re William Mason High School Marching Band and we’re going to make finals every year.”
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