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Annie Giang (12) cheeses after a Color Guard performance well done.

Annie Giang (12) cheeses after a Color Guard performance well done.

Jessica Belle Kramer

Jessica Belle Kramer

Annie Giang (12) cheeses after a Color Guard performance well done.

Jessica Belle Kramer, Editor-in-Chief

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Spirit of STL Marching Band Prepares to Perform in Coveted Rose Bowl Parade

Last school year, the band room echoed with excitement as the directors announced that the LHS Spirit of Saint Louis Marching Band was invited to, yet again, perform in the Tournament of Roses. LHS’ entire 215-member ensemble will be heading to Pasadena, California at the end of December to play in the internationally-televised event on New Year’s Day. The last time the band marched in the Rose Parade was in 2011, long before both of Chelsea Silvermintz’s (Assistant Band Director) kids were born and David Wyss (Head Band Director) started losing his hair.

The rigorous selection process proves to be a challenge for many schools all over the country. According to the Rose Parade’s official website, the Tournament of Roses committee receives hundreds of performance submissions each year, but selects only the best 50 applicants.

“The directors submit our performance for review to the Tournament of Roses Committee, then [the committee] comes and watches us perform, and if they think we’re good enough, we’re selected [to perform],” Doug Oitker (12) said.

LHS’ marching band proves to be tough competition; they’ve been selected to march not once, not twice, but three times. They first marched in 2005, and then, again in 2011, under the direction of the late Bob Spiegelman.

Normally, the band returns to concert season after their marching competitions end, but this year, instead of handing in the baritones for euphoniums, parade preparation began. They have been utilizing zero-hours to work on specific, special parade elements and to construct their completely new show for Bandfest, an event where each invited band showcases their unique talents.

“We’ve been doing three weeks of morning rehearsals. The first week, we practiced for the Bandfest. Bandfest is where each of the marching bands perform a mini-marching show. It’ll be five minutes long and use the same music we play when we’re marching in the parade,” Brendan Reichert (11) said.

Along with preparing music for Bandfest, the band must tackle certain obstacles within the parade schematics to insure a perfect performance.

“There’s a special turn in the parade called the 110 degree turn and it’s famous because there’s not really any other turn like it. It’s hard for a marching band to make, so for the past couple of days we’ve been practicing pretty much just that turn,” Reichert said.

The complexity of their performance matches their ambition to succeed, especially since this particular band pivot is harder than it may appear.

“It’s like they’re turning from a point, so those further away from that point turn more, while those closer turn less. The students on the outside are having to take large steps and the students on the inside have to take much smaller steps. They also have to maintain their side to side and line spacing and distance, which is a tricky thing [for them] to do while varying up their step-size,” Silvermintz said.

Though constructing a completely new show may seem tiresome, the directors are very confident in their students abilities; they believe that they are already well-trained from their normal marching season.; the same applies to the drum majors.

“During marching season, we do all the conducting, build the show up and tell the [marchers] what to do and guide them. [We] have to be part teacher, part conductor and part student all at the same time. The parade is all of that plus we have to go back in and be with the band a lot more. The whole trip, there’s a lot going on, and we have Bandfest where we have to build a whole new show, so we have to go back to doing our old role and figure out how to do all the new stuff,” Clara Rush (Head Drum Major, 12) said.

Along with the drum majors, section leaders take on the role of teacher, as well. From making sure their section marches in line and on-beat to helping their friends memorize music, these students play an important role. Rebecca Mudro (12), one of the flute section leaders, spends extra time in and out of rehearsal insuring her section’s success.

“I practice a lot on memorizing all of the music ahead of time, so I can help everyone else memorize their lines,” Mudro said.

Another section leader focused on the band’s well-being is Annie Giang (12). Through leading the color guard, she has realized how important, yet strenuous, the work they do really is.

“It’s almost college level because we’re doing something called Bandfest where we perform a small, few-minute show, but for the parade itself, we aren’t limiting ourselves at all,” Giang said.

All-in-all, LHS is blessed to have a band that has achieved this high of an honor and it will be an incredible opportunity for everyone involved. Mike Mullins (Band President, 12) marched in the Rose Parade last year with the Bands of America National Honor Band and had an amazing experience.

“It’s like a stadium that’s five and a half miles long because on both sides of the street there’s just people from the barricades to the store walls; they estimate around two and a half million people. It is, quite literally, everything they make it out to be,” Mullins said.

Catherine Brown (12) during a half-time ensemble performance.

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