Instant Recap: BOA San Antonio Super Regional Finals
Instant Recap: BOA San Antonio Super Regional Finals
Keep up with all of the bands performing in the 2019 BOA San Antonio Super Regional Finals whether you can watch or not!
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Keep up with all of the bands performing in the 2019 BOA San Antonio Super Regional Finals whether you can watch or not!
8:30 PM ET - James Bowie (TX)
Show Title: The Apotheosis
Repertoire: Music of James Horner, David Maslanka, and Bela Bartók
Just from the way they take the field, you know Bowie is ready for an incredible show tonight. The second they announced the band, a large section of the marching musicians rushed the field at a full sprint then quickly dropped into their "wild animal" character.
The first part of their show gives each section their own time to shine starting with the low brass, then jumping to the upper woodwinds, and finally to the trumpets on the props centered on the right-40. All of those are just elements used to build into a high-impact hit before they head into a soft moment reminiscent of the introduction.
The singer paired with the flute solo takes you straight into their world of this tribal, animalistic fantasy. All the way through to the end, Bowie does a great job of drawing your attention across the field back and forth as the singer and soloist play off of one another.
Although they seemed to have had a small prop malfunction, the performers adapted extremely well and from my perspective in the press box, it truly didn't have an impact on the overall visual package being presented tonight.
8:45 PM ET - Keller (TX)
Show Title: Fearless
Repertoire: "Cape Fear" by Bernstein and Herrmann, "Ostinato (from Mikrokosmos)" by Bartok, "Stoick Ship" by Powell, "Sun" by Bergersen, and original music by Carol Brittin Chambers.
Mellophones on the prop front and center is the way every group should start their show, especially when they enter as a pick-up into the first big hit of the show. The trumpet solo that follows just gives you a taste of what's to come from this Keller brass section. The first movement really is just a display of their power and technical ability—right before the woodwinds come in off the front sideline to lay down some complicated runs and syncopated rhythms.
As the horn solo and trombones take us into the ballad the mood really starts to mellow out. Pods of woodwinds begin splitting as the music builds and before you know it, the band is spread from 12-yard line to 20-yard line and filling the entire dome with their sound.
Once their closer really gets going, the drill matches the intensity and shows off what this Keller band can handle. Volume is not an issue for this band, too. With just a little touch of trombone gliss, the final hit put a nice close on this show.
9:00 PM ET - Round Rock (TX)*
Show Title: A Simple Gesture
Repertoire: Music by Leoncavallo, Dupere, Jutras, and Piaf
The first of the bands from tonight's finalists going to this year's BOA Grand Nationals, Round Rock still has two more weeks to clean this show.
Black and white stripes fill the field while one lone mime begins the show to a voiceover. With Dan Potter's announcement, the Round Rock band fills the field in circular patterns basically running from the large curvilinear stages framing the field on each 10-yard line.
After the opening, the woodwinds and brass each retreat back into a circular form and perform one of my favorite drill moves of the season, a kind of sequential rotating pattern that starts from the center and moves outwards on a North, South, East & West radius. Hard to describe in text, but very cool when seen performed as well as Round Rock is.
Some very nice block rotations from their woodwinds fill up the left 25-40 while they wrap up the first half of their show. After a quick transition, a new color is introduced against all of the hypnotizing black and white along with the sound of a flute soloist—red.
As the ballad's melody bounces from woodwinds to brass, the Dragon Band gets to start flexing their musical abilities. Dynamic control and some great releases made this moment very powerful for them tonight in the Alamodome.
Following the ballad's conclusion, the drumline takes centerstage and the guard starts adding hoops to their rifle work making for some fun added demand that fits into the theme appropriately.
Finally, a lot of high-velocity drill draws your eye constantly to the rose-bearing mime as the musicians play Saint-Saens and bring together a very conclusive-feeling finale. See you Indianapolis, Round Rock!
9:15 PM ET - Pearland (TX)
Show Title: Muses
Repertoire: Music of Claude Debussy, Henry Purcell, and Danny Elfman
Pearland's auxiliary percussion ensemble gets the show started off with some synchronized head-bobbing before the oboe soloist rises from one of their almost nuclear reactor-shaped props. The guard's purple against the entirely black visuals pops wonderfully as they dance around the perimeter of the marching musicians.
One thing Pearland seems to clearly have under their control is their ability to rotate straight lines as is shown by their numerous block rotations and triangle rotations throughout this opening. They transition into their ballad and the brasses sound fills the stadium while it bounces around the walls of the Alamodome. A very dramatic bright purple swing flag reveal gives the backdrop of their ballad hit.
As they build into their final hit, everything is drawn towards the front of the field and a massive block of their winds and percussion basically rushes the front, backed by all of the black props surrounding the field.
9:30 PM ET - The Woodlands (TX)*
Show Title: On the Town
Repertoire: "On the Town" and "Fancy Free" by Leonard Bernstein
Nothing like an all-white reveal of a 200+ member band. The Woodlands' opening is perhaps the most immersive programs that we've seen in San Antonio. While we get a serenade from their trumpet and saxophone soloist, the trombones and tubas simply offer a little backup creating an incredible moment on their small stage placed on the 40.
A lot of very tight drill and character work at a fast tempo fills this next section with some simultaneous demand that very few high school bands can accomplish.
Now it's time for some ballad in the style of New York, of course with a nice touch of jazz from the soloists that we have already been enjoying thus far in their show. The low dynamics are not long-lasting as the swing flags come out...in full swing...and the volume rises quickly to offer a brief impact moment.
After a drum break and small combo on the stage, a full out party starts with an all-out shout section from the marching musicians spread across over half of the field. This show is simply filled with a whimsical tone but also offers quite an impressive amount of impacts that juxtapose it nicely.
A nice reprisal of the opening of the show rounds out their closer and one final high volume "blob up" moment finishes up the show before a cute tag ending.
9:45 PM ET - Flower Mound (TX)
Show Title: Vitrify
Repertoire: "Freya" by James Gosling, "Neodammerung" by Donald Davis, "Ecstatic Waters" by Steven Davis, and "Godspeed" by Stephen Melillo.
In case you haven't had the chance to look up what "vitrify" means yet, it is the process of turning something into glass, usually through heat. Once you understand that, it's easy to latch onto Flower Mound's color schemes this season.
Assisted with a light brown palette accented by the red/yellow of the color guard, Flower Mound starts this show hectic. Flames begin enveloping the props and the guard brings out swing flags of bright yellow with red accents, mirroring the large fabric to signify the beginning of the process of sand turning to glass.
A uniform change from tan to all-white (and sequined) is revealed once the fabric is pulled away and all you can hear is hard mallets on the front ensemble echoing throughout. The low brass and mellophones begin the next moment only for the entire winds to enter in this majestic melody.
Guard members inside large "glass" bubbles move towards the front while the woodwinds get staged behind them for a very difficult series of runs, then hand off the attention to the brass off to the left 30 yard line. Once each section gets their moment, a color change in the backdrop from all-white to blue highlights a lone English horn soloist inside one of the bubbles staged on the 50. While your eyes are drawn away, the remaining marching musicians grab blue drapes and the music suddenly turns majestic again.
The mellophone and trumpet feature just begs for goosebumps in with a very fanfare-esque style to it. The goosebumps continue all the way to the end as they spread across the field, covering it in blue "glass."
10:00 PM ET - L.D. Bell (TX)
Show Title: break AWAY
Repertoire: Music of Danny Elfman, Martin Gore, Depeche Mode, and Eric Whitacre
L.D. Bell is one band that feels very comfortable on a stage with as much pressure as this San Antonio Super Regional holds. To start out, their guard takes over your eyes as they fill the space with their brick red and burnt orange silks. One thing is for sure, this entire group can play extremely well. The balance from their low brass section is especially notable, with the tubas/baritones and lower woodwinds being very easy to hear through the ensemble giving them a strong low end to back up the rest of the winds.
The small rectangles of tarp are slowly being moved away from centerfield but kept in groups of 4-7. By the time the bass flute solo comes in accompanied by hand drum, all of the rectangles are now broken away and the winds are able to fill the field with large blocks of drill while the color guard fits perfectly into the negative space adding embellishment to the music with their bright orange costumes.
10:15 PM ET - Ronald Reagan (TX)
Show Title: Secret World
Repertoire: Music of Peter Gabriel, John Metcalfe, Aaron Guidry, and Ray Ulibarri.
When Ronald Reagan's show begins, it truly feels like you're watching a movie. They take you directly into their own world, led by their "drum major" dancer. The opening hit immediately grabs you off your seat and says "look at us." As the melody bounces from high brass to the woodwinds' virtuosic runs, the percussion seamlessly ties each section together.
One thing that is already setting apart Ronald Reagan is their ability to crescendo in very tight timeframes but with as if it were a long drawn out ballad hit. Very balanced and measured. As the trombone and trumpet features toss back and forth, drumline seems to be layered in at the perfect dynamic to be recognizable and accented but not overwhelming.
As the next portion of their show begins and the tension really picks up, so does their drill. Being able to place a clearly defined circle within a rectangular block of nearly 300 students is hard—the spacing feels especially weird to the people on the perimeter of the circle.
Gold flags fill your eyes as the guard covers the entire field and the brass turns around to complete a beautiful moment. Once the circle forms start with the flute feature and drumline bouncing around in the middle, then the trumpets start their double tonguing feature—it's game over.
A soft lull brings out the red and yellow and the winds start their final push to the end. And a standing ovation for Ronald Reagan's final performance of the 2019 season.
10:30 PM ET - Marcus (TX)
Show Title: Unwritten
Two words: Marcus Guard. Already starting off tonight's show with a wonderful opening. The stage is set with a winding staircase off to the right 20 and 3 large backdrop props that look like books/book bindings with small windows and doors. One of the books opens into a pop-out storybook like one from childhood in one of the most impressive prop designs we've seen this season.
The other two book backdrops pop-out into a woodland scene accompanied by a trumpet/oboe duet. The silks that the guard is using during this ballad are as eye-catching as the props—with images of an open book and ink emanating from their bindings, black and white on half and a blue-purple gradient on the others.
10:45 PM ET - Vista Ridge (TX)
Show Title: Turning the Tables
Repertoire: Music from "Torch Dance" by John Barnes, "Swan Lake" by Tchaikovsky, "Midnight (from Cinderalla)" by Prokofiev, and "Turning Tables" by Adele.
Even as Marcus finishes their show, it's hard not to notice Vista Ridge's massive turntable prop (the very same from Mandarins Drum and Bugle Corps' 2018 show). Two diagonals of 14 dunk-tank looking props with smaller turntables on them fill the field from the front left corner all the way to the back right. This band is literally spread from front sideline to back sideline on an entire half of the field.
Vista Ridge's difficulty in the front half of this show comes from pure environmental demand—brass on all the way on the left and woodwinds entirely on the right, split by the spinning turntable on the 50. The brass just got their first chance to really open up and they took that opportunity pretty well, I'd say—the crowd certainly liked it.
Naturally, you have to put a crazy drum break on this spinning stage, and Vista Ridge came through tonight. Their battery writing featured splits galore and all eyes in the Alamodome were on them to nail it—good enough for me, a trumpet player. Either way, the demand alone is worth commendation.
A very good finals run from Vista Ridge tonight.
11:00 PM ET - Claudia Taylor Johnson (TX)*
Show Title: Circle of Life
Repertoire: "This Land" by Hans Zimmer, "Puma" by Full Circle, "Imagine" by John Lennon, "Just Can't Wait to be King" and "Circle of Life" by Elton John/Tim Rice, "First Circle" by Pat Methany.
Hope you're ready to go to Africa with the Johnson band! As one of the most fun shows of the season, I cannot wait to see this show in Lucas Oil Stadium in two weeks.
A soft opening from the woodwinds sets the stage before things really open up for everyone and a sforzando just throws one more element into their massive first impact. The marimba's ostinato transitions into that classic tune from the Lion King. One thing these CTJ performers know how to do well is creating a character that's obvious even while they're marching drill and even doing some block rotations. The very organic, natural feel of their visual package just goes hand in hand with the musical tone and percussive accents.
Every time this trombone feature begins, you can feel the entire room go silent as everyone listens in to the chords and upper range from the featured performer. Once you hear "Just Can't Wait to be King" it's hard not to smile and nod your head along as the performers very visibly get into this very fun part of their show—lots of snapping and body movement with little drill makes this a great break-down moment.
Once that trombone performer plays that final high note and the brass hits you with the high-knee front and center, the ending of this show really lets loose and gives you everything you'd want from a CTJ show.
11:15 PM ET - Vandegrift (TX)*
Show Title: Aria, Queen of the Night
Repertoire: "Aria (from The Magic Flute)," "Dies Irae (from Requiem in d minor)," "Overture (from The Marriage of Figaro)," "Lacrimosa (from Requiem in d minor)" by Mozart, and "Vienna Nights" by Wilby.
This opening trade-off from the melody to the low brass syncopation is nice to listen to when Vandegrift executes it as well as they are at this point in the season. A huge strength on the side of Vandegrift this weekend is their volume control in the low end, especially regarding their percussion and low brass. Another strength is their visual technique which from where I'm sitting, looks absolutely fantastic. The forms they're marching in in this front half of their show are extremely exposed with cover-downs and dramatic direction changes that are always throwing your attention to across the field.
Their brass is able to handle incredible runs while having constantly changing angles around them and still sticking to their training—a difficult feat for any marching ensemble. With the introduction of the trombone solo, the mood shifts into a darker scene, despite the lights being held by the dancing performers. Great performance from their soloist tonight. This band knows how to hit their open second position like no other.
With a band this big, to have such uniform technique across so many performers is perhaps one of the most difficult things band directors will face—Vandegrift has really put in some work on their marching. With two more weeks to work on cleaning this show that's already so good, Vandegrift is going to be a FORCE in Indianapolis later this month.
11:30 PM ET - Hebron (TX)*
Show Title: Among the Stars
Repertoire: Music of Frank Ticheli, Peter Graham, Mitch Leigh, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, Robert W. Smith, Francisco Perez, Michael Martin, Chad Heiny, and Colton Hines
The grey and blue of Hebron's uniforms is always such an attractive backdrop for their incredibly artistic and musical shows. Lots of exposed drill here in this opener, not to mention a nice little mellophone feature as they're the only curve on the field and surrounding the stage off the right 35. By the way, the band is spread from clarinets on the left 25 all the way to tubas inside the right endzone while playing runs. Their brass section is just as capable of playing runs you'd expect from any woodwind section in any state other than Texas—and their woodwinds are even better than that.
Their ballad gives you a great example of using their numbers to create negative space and draw your eye certain places, specifically with respect to the yellow star moving across from the back left corner. Everyone loves Hebron's mellos—but how about let's give them horns and let them take the front sideline stage on the left 30 and let them just stand there and do what they do best—play incredibly well.
11:45 PM ET - Leander (TX)*
Show Title: Radioactive
Repertoire: Music of Philip Glass, John Adams, Britney Spears, Karl Jenkins, Trombone Shorty, and Tchaikovsky.
Leander's opening choreography is so dramatic when paired with the counting voiceover and alarms. In fact, most of this show is extremely dramatic—but it plays perfectly into Leander's skillset. The Leander guard is one of those that attract your attention almost non-stop, well definitely non-stop if the winds weren't so dang good at playing.
Their drill is definitely some of the hardest we've seen tonight with some large step sizes thrown in all over the place. As cheesy as "Toxic" might be in this show, it's also just so fun and the style and confidence from the marching musicians carry over all of the cheesiness.
Having seen "Chernobyl," I can only guess that the blue signifies the water trying to suppress radiation...only to work temporarily and send Leander's world back into chaos. The brass' multiple tonguing feature got its own applause tonight—if that tells you how good it was. Once the countdown hits zero, it's all good fun all the way to the end. Thank you Leander for this incredible ending.
*Band will continue to 2019 BOA Grand National Championships, November 14-16.
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