#thatwestboundband now sets sights on Rose Parade
For the William Mason High School Marching Band, this year’s competition show title, “Somewhere,” has never been more appropriate. At the 2015 Bands of America Grand National Championships November 12-14, the band definitely went “somewhere,” reaching new program heights with
?a fourth place in the nation finish, and earning their highest BOA score ever with a 95.35. Mason also retained its title as the top-finishing Ohio band for the fifth straight year and was the only band from Ohio that advanced to Finals.
Mason competed against nearly 100 other top bands from across the country, performing this year’s show based on the iconic musical, West Side Story. Bloggers called Mason’s unique interpretation “groundbreaking” and “captivating”.
According to Mason band director Bob Bass, a priority for the staff is to create a show every year that people can relate to in some way. “West Side Story is a story that everyone knows,” Bass explained. Because of copyright issues, the challenge for show designers was telling this story without using most of the original score associated with the musical. The band’s interpretation included what Bass called “fantastic classical music” and still contained all the elements of West Side Story, including Maria and Tony, the rumble, and even key sounds of whistles and sirens. “The set-up of scaffolding at the very end of our show, even the black veils, were taken directly from the final scene of the movie version,” shared Bass.
“It is evident that our students and directors work so hard to bring such an amazing show each year, and this year was really remarkable,” shared Mason Superintendent Dr. Gail Kist-Kline, who traveled to Indianapolis to watch the band compete. “It was evident by the judges awarding Mason the highest score yet at Grand Nationals and even more evident by the emotional response from the audience.”
For Bass, a highlight of the weekend was a conversation with a Grand Nationals judge, who shared that in all his years of judging band competitions, Mason’s show was the first to make him cry. “The complete silence in Lucas Oil Stadium at the end of our show told us that we had succeeded in impacting our audience,” said Bass.
The band’s competition season may be over, but students, staff, and parents will be heading “somewhere” new in December—to Pasadena for the 2016 Rose Parade. Mason, dubbed #thatwestboundband in honor of the West Side Story-themed show and upcoming trip to the West coast, will be marching in front of millions of people on one of the world’s largest stages.
According to Band Booster President Jennifer Weaver, preparations for the trip to Pasadena obviously did not interfere with the band’s efforts to produce a phenomenal competition show. “We have amazing families in the band program, and we could not put on a show like we do without their help and the support of our school and community,” said Weaver. “But it’s the students who pull it off. It is simply amazing how much time and energy they devote to this program.” Weaver also credits the band directors, who “not only love the band, but love our kids.”
For Bass, the band season really is about the kids, not just about rankings and ratings. “It’s an enjoyable journey, working with these kids every day, going through the process with them, watching them mature in their approach to it all. Up to the very end of the season, they wanted to continue to improve and rehearse.”
“Our students know that when they step on that field at Lucas Oil Stadium, they have to give it their all—and they do,” shared Weaver. “It’s 12 minutes on the field. It takes an army of dedicated, passionate people to make it the best 12 minutes it can be. But it’s worth every minute!”
About Bands of America Grand National Championships:
Grand National Championships is an annual three-day event held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis that includes Preliminaries, Semi-Finals, and Finals. Bands receive recorded evaluations from panels of leading educators and marching experts, along with written score sheets. The nation’s top bands compete in two days of Prelims, with thirty-five of those bands advancing to Semi-Finals. The top twelve scoring bands from that round advance to Finals competition.
Mason first competed at Grand Nationals in 2000, placing 55th, and the band has improved on that finish every year. In 2011, the band cracked into the top twelve bands to earn a spot in Finals, finishing 10th, and has competed in Finals every year since then.