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Competitive marching band season set to open

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The beginning of September marks the start of fall, football and for some high school students, their favorite time of year — competitive marching band season.

Band members at Columbus North and East high schools have spent countless hours since June learning how to march the length of a football field and play intricate music as part of new 2014 programs.

The Sound of North is hard at work creating its show “Hypnotic,” while the Olympian Spirit Marching Band is fine-tuning its show “Up in the Air,” featuring the music of guitarist Pat Metheny.

Both bands will kick off their season at the Sweetwater Sound of North Mid-States Invitational at Columbus North on Saturday.

Columbus North will perform at eight other competitions throughout the season and competes as a Class A band in the Indiana State School Music Association.

If North makes the finals, the band would compete for the state championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on Nov. 8.

Columbus East has eight performances at competitions throughout its season and competes as a Scholastic Large band in ISSMA.

If the band wins at the ISSMA scholastic finals, it could perform in exhibition at Lucas Oil Stadium on Nov. 8.

Columbus East also performs in the Mid-State Band Association as a Class AAAA band. The band is scheduled to compete for the Mid-State Championship at the finals at Mason High School in Mason, Ohio, on Nov. 8.

East band director David Rodgers said if Columbus East wins the scholastic finals, he would let band members vote on where to perform Nov. 8.

Columbus North has a band of about 150 students who make up the drumline, the wind section, the color guard and the front ensemble, said marching band director Keith Burton.

Features of the show this year will include spiraling images made in formation by the marching band, giant pendulums to “hypnotize” the audience and a section that is so hypnotizing, it will put the band to sleep, North Bands director Bill Stultz joked.

The idea for the show has been floating around for a few years, Burton said, but was replaced last year by the band’s John F. Kennedy-themed show to mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

The execution and quality of the show, regardless of the theme, is all up to the students performing, Burton said.

“You’ve got to be passionate about what you’re doing,” he said. “We’ve got a really strong playing group. We’re off to a really good start musically, and we’re a little bit larger than we have been in the last few years. We look bigger and sound bigger.”

Columbus East’s band of about 78 students will perform a show with movements set in the clouds. As the music continues, the band in the clouds will be joined by birds and kites with the Metheny songs “First Circle,” “Last Train Home” and “Minuano,” Rodgers said.

He added that the show, while extremely fun to watch, is particularly challenging for the student performers who have to play music in different time signatures and sing. The show will also feature solos, a front ensemble feature, a drumline feature and a performance by a brass trio.

“The challenge is the ‘meter’ of the opener. It’s unique because we showcase a lot of different things through the music,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s by far the best opener we’ve ever done. The opener is my favorite piece of music of all time.”

The Sweetwater Sound of North Mid-States Invitational will feature performances of bands from Connersville, North Putnam, Crawfordsville, Salem, Rising Sun, Shawe Memorial, Bedford, Martinsville, Monrovia, Madison, Jennings County, Scottsburg, Columbus East, Bloomington South, Floyd Central and Columbus North.

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