INDIANAPOLIS – The Concordia Marching Cadets followed up their second-place finish last year with the only thing better – a state championship in the Class C state marching band competition.
It was the top finish by the seven area bands that competed in the 40th annual Indiana State School Music Association’s state marching band finals Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Homestead finished third in Class A.
“They hit it,” Concordia director Dianne Moellering said, well before being awarded the victory. “I just told them to do their best and remember: Our only goal is to praise God and touch people.”
It was the first-ever first-place finish for Concordia. And Moellering got a win after 21 years leading the band.
The 73-member band used the theme “One Mission” to focus on key Christian words. The routine was most powerful during the ballad when showcasing simple placards that bore words such as “bless,” “believe,” “hope,” “listen” and “teach.”
“It was awesome,” said Sharon Hollis, whose 15-year-old daughter Leandrah Miller is in the color guard. “A lot of commitment, but it was worth it. I knew it. I felt the energy.”
The 86 members of the Norwell Marching Knights earned a fifth-place finish in Class C. They began their performance, “Roots,” by lofting an acorn high. The audience then saw a 12-foot prop tree “grow” during the movements of the music.
The color guard used flags that featured leaves, while the band itself showed off crisp marching maneuvers. Director Cory Kelley is in his second year with the powerhouse band, which has been crowned champion three times and runner-up twice in the past 15 years.
The Angola Marching Hornets finished eighth. They laid a colorful tarp on the group showing the hands of Michelangelo’s Adam to illustrate its theme, “Reaching Out.”
Throughout the routine, band members stretched their hands to the sky. Angola also had a large cheering section that enjoyed a crescendo-moment about midperformance.
Director Kevin Fogle is in his 14th year with the band, which has 80 students. The band finished eighth last year.
The Homestead Spartan Alliance took home a third-place trophy for its magical “Night Circus” theme, which began with whimsical music. The color guard included circus actors and fans who eventually join the circus.
But the highlight was clearly the finish, in which the entire 291-member band moves into a tight formation and ends with a powerful burst of sound. “It’s high-velocity movement mixed with intense music,” director Steve Barber said.
Homestead has made the state finals for 27 years in a row and has taken home a number of state titles, most recently in 2011.
“We just worry about what we do and how we do it,” Barber said. “There’s an expectation of excellence. They step up to the plate and handle it well.”
The Carroll Charger Pride had a large cheering contingent in the stands for its first return to the state finals since 2006. The band placed 10th in the Class A competition. The 165-member band performed “Guardian Angel” as the color guard used flags bearing angel wings and the band moved fluidly between movements of the inspirational music.
Drum major Luisa Morales, 17, momentarily speechless after the performance, said she loved the emotional ending the best.
“I am so glad I was able to experience it with my band and my family,” she said, noting that Saturday was her birthday. “It will be a great birthday, no matter what happens.”
Director Doug Hassell is in his second year with the band.
Just one area band competed in the Class B competition – the DeKalb Baron Brigade, which garnered a seventh-place finish in the contest.
The group introduced the crowd to its county, including the four cities and town that feed into the school. Large pictures of the area, from a smiley-face water tower to the county courthouse, decorated the field.
Director Terry Fisher decided on a more intimate, local theme because “I Am DeKalb” has been the slogan of the corporation for several years, and he said the students relate to it.
During the performance, members of the 124-person band took the microphone to talk about the community as a family. The end of the show was punctuated with the chant, “We Are DeKalb.”
“I have no doubt they put out the best show they could,” a proud Fisher said. DeKalb returned to the state finals this year after a one-year hiatus.
The Adams Central Squadron of Sound, the only area band competing in this class, tied for fifth – its highest-ever result. The band’s theme was “Celebrating Innovation,” which highlighted key moments in time such as invention of the airplane and the arrival of the digital age.
Director Mike Satterthwaite led the 60-member group, which had been to state finals twice previously.