Marching Indians 'Rise Above' at BOA competition

Rick Wagner • Nov 12, 2018 at 12:43 AM

KINGSPORT — The Dobyns-Bennett High School competitive marching band left Wednesday afternoon about 1:30 on six chartered buses headed for Grand Nationals in Indianapolis. The more than 200-member band’s goal was finishing as the top Class AAA band in the United States during the semifinals, part of the Nov. 8-10 event.

The Marching Indians of the Model City arrived back home Sunday morning on the same six chartered buses having accomplished that goal Saturday and that night going on to be ranked 10th in the nation among the 12 bands in the finals. Among 507 bands in regional Bands of America (BOA) competitions nationwide, 108 took part in Grand Nationals preliminaries, while 37 competed in the semifinals and 12 in the finals. Over the three days, about 100,000 participants and spectators attended the three-day event.

The D-B band’s performance marked the third time it made the finals at the BOA Grand Nationals, formally called the Grand National Championships competition at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Music for All event drew bands from 23 states and amounts to the Super Bowl and World Series combined for high school marching bands. In 2017, the D-B band finished second in AAA, coming in second to Castle High School of Indiana, and finished sixth in finals.


Band spokeswoman Kristin Thorneloe, a junior trumpet player, said some member shed “tears of happiness” after the third and final performance at the competition. However, the past few days also were draining, and she said she woke up from the overnight trip about 17 minutes before the band came east on Highway 11W through Church Hill and Mount Carmel before entering the Kingsport city limits and getting to D-B about 9:30.

“Our run at the end, our finals runs, was more than any of us could have hoped for,” Kristin said. “Our placement didn’t truly matter after that. It was the last one, and it was the best one.”


In Class AAA in semifinals, Homestead High School of Indiana finished second and Franklin High of Tennessee third. D-B won outstanding musical performance and outstanding general effect, with Homestead winning outstanding visual performance. In finals, Carmel High of Indiana won for the third time in a row and swept the caption categories.

Castle High of Indiana is D-B’s archrival of sorts in a competition that band director Lafe Cook said unlike football has no defense, only the offense of giving the best possible performance. Castle didn’t make finals this year, nor did Marian Catholic High of Illinois. Marian has made finals for the past 30 years or so, said Thorneloe. However, three high schools that had never made finals made it this time.

Not only did D-B capture the Class AAA championship at the event, but the Indians also took first place for outstanding music performance and for general effect, both in AAA. In addition, D-B was invited to the 2020 Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, Calif.


Kingsport City Manager Jeff Fleming attended the competition but does not have a student in the band. He described it as follows on his Facebook page as Jeff Fleming’s “Band Competitions for Non-Band People” or “non-band newbies like me,” which also could be called “Grand Nationals for Dummies.” It went as follows:

“There are four size classifications (A-AAAA). Each division has a national champion. D-B won AAA (we are not in the largest division, some of these schools have up to 5,000 students). Then they throw all of the scores from any size classification into a bracket and compete again for Grand National Champion, where D-B finished 10th,” Fleming wrote.

“It would be like winning an athletic championship and then re-bracketing all schools regardless of size and making them play again (the same day) ... powering through injury and exhaustion,” he wrote. “For example, Greeneville won a state football championship last year, but what if they had to immediately turn around and play against the top finishers from all size classifications? Would they beat Maryville? Alcoa? Or even runners-up like Oakland or Ravenwood? But then think, this isn’t just Tennessee this is ALL states!

“I am very, very proud of our students and the community that supports them!”


The show is called “Rise Above,” Cook said in a text interview Sunday evening. “The musical selections are primarily obscure but exciting classical music excerpts. The ballad was a piece written for the band by our arranger William Pitts and the closer was a piece for concert band called ‘Millennium Canons’ by Kevin Puts. The ‘Rise Above’ reference refers to the hopeful nature of the music combined with the six-foot stages set up around the field.”

The opening two classical selections are “Fanfare from Khachaturian Symphony No. 3” and a movement of David Diamond‘s “Symphony No. 4,” Cook said.


As reported online by Music for All:

97.350 - Carmel High School, IN

96.175 - Avon High School, IN

95.600 - Blue Springs High School, MO

95.450 - Broken Arrow High School, OK

94.600 - Tarpon Springs High School, FL

93.950 - Wando High School, SC

91.000 - William Mason High School, OH

90.150 - Homestead High School, IN

90.100 - Jenks High School, OK

90.000 - Dobyns-Bennett

90.000 - Prosper High School, TX

89.300 - O’Fallon Township High School, IL





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