Spirit of Columbus to perform at Grand Nationals

Columbus East and North’s combined marching band will compete against 97 other bands from across the country next week.

Bands of America Grand National Championships, a program of the nonprofit Music For All, will be Thursday through Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Sound and Spirit of Columbus is set to perform at 1 p.m. on Thursday as part of the preliminary competition.

“The Bands of America Grand National Championships is a celebration of music education at its finest, showcasing the excellence, teamwork, and student leadership of the region’s outstanding marching bands,” said President and CEO of Music for All Jeremy Earnhart.

“These young performers and their achievements advocate for the importance of music education in schools locally and nationwide.”

There are 98 high school marching bands from 18 different states competing at Grand Nationals, according to a release from Bands of America and Music For All. The current lineup features 13 Indiana bands, including those from Columbus, Avon, Carmel, Fishers, Lawrence Township and Greenfield-Central.

The event begins with two days of preliminary competition. Performances will be evaluated by a panel of nationally recognized music educators and marching band experts. Up to 38 bands may advance to Saturday’s semi-finals. From there, the top 12 scoring bands will advance to a finals competition Saturday evening.

Per the event schedule, semifinalists will be announced during the 9 p.m. preliminary award ceremony on Friday, and finalists will be announced during the 5 p.m. semifinals award ceremony on Saturday.

Grand Nationals are the culmination of the 2021 season of 22 Bands of America marching band championships across the country, which officials said “are the premier marching band events in the nation.”

The 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic. Prior to September of 2021, the last full in-person event Music for All held was Grand Nationals in November of 2019.

“The enthusiastic return of the bands performing at this championship is a testament to the resilience, dedication, and hard work of these young student musicians, their teachers, school administrators, parents, and families,” said Earnhart.

In addition to the competition, Grand Nationals will feature exhibition performances from college marching bands. Also, band, orchestra and choir students from four different Indianapolis high schools will perform together in a special exhibition known as the Indianapolis Public Schools Musical Showcase.

The Sound and Spirit of Columbus also competed in the Indiana Sate School Music Association Open Class events this fall and made it to semistate. However, they did not advance to the state finals, which were this weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium.