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Marcus band marching to state
Marcus High School qualifying for the UIL State Marching Band Contest has become a biennial tradition over the last few years.
Winning the state championship has been almost as common.
Marcus will try to make it four titles in a row Tuesday when it competes against 37 other schools in the 5A competition at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Area schools include Hebron, which is also in Lewisville ISD, Coppell, Hurst L.D. Bell, Keller, Keller Fossil Ridge, Richland, Richardson Berkner, Rowlett, Plano East and Duncanville. Marcus is set to perform at 9:30 a.m.
Marcus qualified for the event by taking first place in the area finals, in which the top five advance. Marcus also placed first in the area preliminaries.
Marcus has qualified for the biennial event the last four competitions dating back to 2004, and it has won the event the last three -- 2006, 2008 and 2010. That ties the record for state titles in the every-other-year format.
A fourth state title would be the most in the biennial format, and it would also surpass the record for most titles a band has won in consecutive years as well.
But the students aren’t looking at it that way.
“We look at it as this is our season,” said senior drum major Sarah Jones. “We are what we are now, and we won’t ever be a part of the past. The state title may come with it, but that’s not why we do what we do. We do it because we like making music, and we like performing together.”
Still, the achievements have not gone unnoticed.
"The reason this is so impressive is because this is done every other year," said Bill Watson, director of fine arts at Marcus. "If this was done in consecutive years, you would have the same students. But when you do it three times in six years, the roster turns over a couple of times. You could have some students who experience this twice, but some of them might not be in the same role as they were before."
Marcus will be performing "Gilded Melodies," which features pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach from the 1700s that Watson said will have modern connotations.
"Some of the pieces will be very recognizable by the public," Watson said. "Some of the music is pretty dark, but there are also some beautiful pieces mixed in. So there is a wide range of emotion."
Drum major Scott Van Gundy said the band does a good job of displaying that emotion to the crowd.
“It’s about the passion,” Van Gundy said. “We incorporate it to all of the people who come to see our shows. We want to give them the best performance we can, so we put everything we can into it.”
The band is led by Amanda Drinkwater, director of band, as well as associate directors Kennan Wylie, Dominic Talanca and David Simon and color guard director John Leonard.
Watson said Marcus' success can be attributed to the leadership at the high school level, as well as the early years of students' musical education.
"It starts early in the musical program in elementary school and then into the middle school program," Watson said. "It's all part of the feeder system. It's like having a great athletic program. We have great teachers from kindergarten through the 12th grade, and we have strong staff for private lessons."
Watson said the result has been a flood of talent.
"The concert band has the most all-state players in the state," Watson said, adding that Marcus had 16 members last year. "They teach them well in elementary and middle school and then show them how to play in a group.
"Every section is strong," Watson said. "The percussion, woodwinds, brass and color guard. They're all at the top of their game."
Watson said time management is also key.
"They have incredible rehearsals," Watson said. "They get more done in the short amount of time allowed. In the old days, the eight-hour rule [no more than eight hours of practice per week] wasn't as strict as it is now."
Watson said parent involvement has also helped, adding that they are the ones who put together a lot of the props.
"We have a very supportive group of parents and administration," Watson said.
For information on the state competition, go to www.uiltexas.org/music/marching-band/state.
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