Bands refine shows for festivals and judging


By Garth Snow


East Allen County Schools’ high school bands will build pyramids, sample candy, cast spells and offer a requiem as they fine-tune their shows for October competitions.

Veteran directors return to build on 2015 success.

Heritage, New Haven and Woodlan will perform at the “On The Banks of the Wabash” marching band festival Saturday, Sept. 10, at Bluffton High School. (Watch for the performance schedule.) Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors.


The Spirit of Woodlan from Woodlan Jr./Sr. High School will explore “Pyramids of Egypt” as the 2016 band show.

Director Bob Slattery said the students helped to select the show. “We were just listening to different shows, and I played it for the kids and they decided that they liked it,” Slattery said.

Woodlan will take start with Gary P. Gilroy’s show framework but then make “Pyramids” its own. Mike Hardiek returns as drill designer. “When Mike hears the music he interprets how the drill will look visually,” Slattery said. “The overall production will be totally different.”

The show begins with “Construction.” The second section is “The Discovery of KV62,” designating the tomb of Tutankhamun, the boy king. The show closes with “Curse of the Pharaohs.”

The Spirit of Woodlan comprises 60 musicians, guard members and drum majors. “They’re really excited and the season is going great,” Slattery said. Seniors Katelyn Bowers and Adrienne Rebber are drum majors; Rebber also took the stand last year.

Staff members include Roy Castillo, Ashley Baum, Jason Carlson, Derick Herschberger, Josh Hettinger, Matt Schoof, Ryan Springer, Paige Stutzman, Alyssa Hoeppner and Korey Lininger.

Woodlan will perform Sept. 10 at Bluffton, Sept. 17 at DeKalb and Sept. 24 at East Noble.

Last year, Woodlan placed ninth in the state in Indiana State School Music Association Open Class D. Woodlan will participate in the ISSMA Invitational on Oct. 8 at Homestead High School, and the regional Oct. 15 at Chesterton High School. If successful, Woodlan will advance to the Open D semistate Oct. 22 at Franklin Community High School. Ten bands in each of four classes will advance to the state finals Oct. 29 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.


The Mighty Marching Bulldogs of New Haven High School will delight in “Pure Imagination” in 2016.

Director Todd Caffee said the music is from the original “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” movie, the 1971 version starring Gene Wilder: “Candy Man,” “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” and “Pure Imagination.”

Matt Myse wrote the drill. The music book is by Mike Bolla.

Collaborating with Caffee are guard instructor Amanda Gasser and percussion arranger Kent Klee.

The band is bigger, with many new faces. “We’re up to 33, which is a good percentage growth,” Caffee said. “Nearly half the group are new – have never marched before – so they’re a very young group.”

Senior Bri Rhodes and junior Connor James are drum majors, each in their first year on the stand. The color guard has eight members.

Caffee said the band graduated nine seniors, or about a third of its members. “But we had an amazing band camp. They learned their entire show,” Caffee said. “Musically, they’re doing wonderfully. There’s something about having all new marchers that allows you to instill the good habits.”

New Haven will compete in ISSMA Scholastic B. Preliminary competition is Oct. 8 at Homestead High School. Bands earning Gold ratings advance to the state finals, Oct. 22 at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis.

The band made its first appearance July 9, in the Three Rivers Festival parade. “That was wonderful,” Caffee said. “We’ll do the Bluffton Street Fair parade (7 p.m., Sept. 20), and the Decatur Callithumpian parade, which is actually on Halloween this year.


Second-year band director Josiah Pfenning chose “Fade to Black” for the Marching Patriots’ 2016 show. Action begins with “Lacrimosa” from Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor, followed by “Dido’s Lament” from the opera “Dido & Aeneas” by Henry Purcell. The closer is “What’s Happening to Me?” by Two Steps from Hell. “They’re a modern orchestral group, known for their movie scores, with a modern twist,” Pfenning said.

Rehearsal is on track, according to Pfenning. “The kids got fired up about marching band and they are working hard,” he said. “The show is very, very high quality. The music is pretty demanding and the drill is actually very, very demanding. The kids are putting it out there and so far it’s going great.”

The Patriots will field about 34 students, including musicians and guard. Senior Melissa Bryan and returning freshman Alyssa Randall are drum majors.

Staff members include: Mike Beights, drill writer (visual presentation); Kent Klee, music arranger; Brittany Satterthwaite, color guard director; Haleigh Minerd, woodwind tech; Haleigh Mann, brass tech; Madison Cole, percussion tech; and Ana Huss, guard tech.

After opening at Bluffton, the band will compete again Sept. 17 at DeKalb High School and Oct. 1 at the Homestead High School Fall Festival of Bands.

Heritage will compete in Scholastic Class B in Indiana State School Music Association judging. Homestead will host the Open ISSMA Class Invitational and Scholastic Class Preliminaries on Oct. 8. Scholastic bands receiving Gold ratings will advance to the state finals Oct. 22 at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis. (Open Class bands begin competition at various sites Oct. 15, working toward state finals on Oct. 29 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.) Scholastic Class A and B championship bands perform in exhibition at the Open Class finals. Last year, Columbia City earned that honor in Scholastic Class A.


The Leo Jr./Sr. High School Roar of the Lions marching band will present “Spell Bound” this fall. And it will be a very busy fall.

Leo opens with the DeKalb High School festival on Sept. 17. (Performance times usually are determined about a week before the show.)

Leo will compete in Indiana State School Music Association Open Class C. The first round will be Oct. 15 at Lafayette Jefferson High School. If successful, Leo will advance to the semistate Oct. 22 at Decatur Central High School in Indianapolis. Ten teams in Class C will advance to the state finals Oct. 29 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

“It’s going to be a very busy year,” director Bob Myers said. Leo will compete in Bands of America, beginning with a regional in Toledo on Oct. 1 and the Grand National Finals, Nov. 10-12, also at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. “When we finish up at Lucas, the very next weekend we’re on a bus for Florida,” Myers said. The Roar of the Lions band will perform at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort.

The 2016 show, “Spell Bound,” opens with “The Witching Hour” by Randell Standridge, followed by “I Put a Spell on You” by Jay Hawkins and closing with “The Witch and the Saint” by Steven Reineke.

John Moss arranged the music for the Leo band; Moss also serves as the assistant director and percussion director.

The band comprises about 80 musicians and guard. Marissa Myers, Dakota Poinderexter and Savannah Swim are the drum majors.

“It’s a fantastic group. I’m having a blast with them, they’re so nice and fun to be around,” Myers said.

Besides Myers and Moss, staff includes: Daniel Wiles, visual show design and drill design; Christian Ashby, visual; Sarah Gehring, color guard; Jordon Krudop, color guard; Mark Townsend, woodwinds; Maddi Thompson, woodwinds; Grace Hossford, brass; and Jonathon Legocki, low brass.