The Bowie marching band, formally known as the James Bowie High School Outdoor Performing Ensemble (JBHSOPE), is under the direction of Kim Shuttlesworth.
by Ann Fowler
It was a dark and stormy day for local marching bands unable to reach San Antonio for competition on Friday, October 30.
Marching season for many local high schools usually ends with two big competitions: the Bands of America (BOA) Super Regional and the UIL State Marching competition — both held in the San Antonio Alamodome.
BOA San Antonio Super Regional
With the closure of I-35 at the San Marcos River on Friday and tornado warnings throughout the area, many school districts would not release the students, feeling they could be put in harm’s way.
The BOA competition lasts two days, and when several bands could not safely get to the venue, they were given an opportunity to draw for slots before and after the times already set for Saturday.
Unfortunately for Dripping Springs High School, one of the bands affected, they drew a 7 a.m. start time. Said Band booster Andrea Moynihan, VP Communications for the Dripping Springs Tiger Band Boosters, “That would have required the students to be at the band hall at 3 a.m. to prepare for departure. With more rain forecast for overnight, the directors chose to turn down that slot.”
BOA officials offered to let the Tigers perform in exhibition at the conclusion of preliminaries on Saturday. Said Moynihan, “Since the State contest [the following Tuesday] would also be in the Alamodome, the directors thought the exhibition experience would be valuable, so that’s what they chose to do.”
James Bowie High School was always scheduled for a Saturday performance. The band earned a spot in finals on Saturday night, ultimately placing 11th.
Bowie’s show was called “Deep,” featuring musical selections that capture the magnificence of the ocean: “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” by Paul Smith, “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” by John Adams, “Symphony No. 1, Movement 2” by Dmitri Shostakovich and “First Essay” by Samuel Barber. The music for “Deep” was arranged by Ryan George, with drill design by Leon May.
The Bowie marching band, formally known as the James Bowie High School Outdoor Performing Ensemble (JBHSOPE), is under the direction of Kim Shuttlesworth; band assistants are Amy Suggs, Matt Atkinson and Collin Pagel. Director of the Color Guard is Joey Powell. The Drum Majors are Kylie Dugan, Jay Garcia, Michael Huerta and Gianna Nuckols.
The winner for the BOA San Antonio Super Regional was Flower Mound High School.
Texas Marching Finals
For some of the local marching bands, the weekend was a warm-up to the marching state finals on Monday and Tuesday. Monday hosted the 2A and 3A bands, while Tuesday was all about 5A and 1A bands. (4A and 6A schools will compete next year in this biennial competition.)
The difference for 5A bands this year was the addition of 1A schools on the same day. The 1A schools were never considered large enough to compete at the finals level, but the University Interscholastic League decided to try it this year as a pilot.
The 5A bands would start preliminaries at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, break midway to let the 1A bands perform their preliminaries, then let the remaining 5A bands perform. The 1A bands ranked high enough to perform in the evening finals would start at 8:45 p.m. Those 5A bands selected for finals would start at 10 p.m. – a very long day for all involved.
Kate Hector, Media Coordinator for UIL, said, “UIL staff create the marching band schedule to best accommodate all bands and minimize loss of school time and travel costs for schools. This year’s 5A schedule differs from previous years because of the addition of a pilot contest for Conference 1A marching band. Conference 2A and 3A marching bands share the venue on Monday and are also scheduled to finish just prior to midnight. In order to allow all schools who qualify for UIL events to compete in the same venue, it is not uncommon for UIL championships to occasionally go until midnight and even beyond. The UIL is dedicated to providing the best state championship experience for all participants and spectators.”
Dale Sump, former president of the James Bowie Band Boosters, did not see a problem with the very long day. He said, “For those bands that make it to the UIL State finals, they have most likely competed in one or more other marching band competitions not affiliated with UIL, such as Bands of America, with a similar long-day format. The directors, students and parents are used to the format at this point in their season.”
Moynihan of Dripping Springs also put a positive spin on the long day of competition, “As a band parent who lived through the devastation the kids felt two years ago at not making it out of Area to State, I prefer to focus on the positive – we are going to State, and if we are still there at 10 p.m., then we are fortunate, because we are in the finals of State. Our kids only get a shot at this two times in their high school marching career as State titles are awarded only every other year, and both our son and my husband and I are very willing to endure one more late night to have that amazing and rare experience.”
And experience it they did. Not only did Dripping Springs make it into the evening finals, they were the very last band to perform – at 12:15 a.m..
Daniel Sanchez of txbands.org, an organization that attends Texas marching competitions and blogs about each performance, said of the Dripping Springs preliminary performance: “Such a powerful, controlled sound! Technical passages are done with ease. Plenty of body movements and characterization to keep everyone happy. Their visual demand is very high and they are definitely achieving it! They sound just as good when they are moving as they do when they are standing still. Absolutely great stuff!!”
The Dripping Springs show was entitled “The Flight of Spring,” an homage to the migration of the monarch butterfly featuring Symphony No. 9 from “The New World” by Dvorak and “The Rite of Spring” by Stravinsky. Band directors are Keith Lancaster, Derek Woods and Lance Brightwell. Drum Majors are Trey Boehm, Darrell Adams, Lauren Gordon and Michael Martinets.
Ultimately Dripping Springs would place sixth, with Cedar Park, Vandegrift and Leander placing first, second and third.
Moynihan was happy with the success of the Dripping Springs marching season. She feels a little lost sleep was worth giving the 1A bands the opportunity to perform “on the big stage.” She said, “I believe that UIL is doing their best to handle what is a great problem – an increase in the number of quality bands in the state of Texas. Is it an ideal situation this year? No. But our kids are resilient and determined, and I believe they are up to the challenge and honor of the day, no matter how long it is.”
Oh, and while James Bowie and the other 6A bands did not compete this year, Bowie band director Kim Shuttlesworth was at the competition—as one of the judges. But while the bands only attended one very long day, Shuttlesworth judged on both days.
Her fellow adjudicators included: David Brandon, Duncanville High School; Brandon Brewer, Princeton High School; Greg Dick, Friendswood High School; Randy Jones, North Lamar High School (Paris); Jarrett Lipman, Claudia Taylor Johnson High School (San Antonio); Albert Lo, University of Texas at Brownsville; Joni Perez; The Woodlands High School; George Trevino, Lopez High School (Brownsville); and Mark Waymire, University of Southern Mississippi.
It is unknown how many students showed up to school bleary-eyed on Wednesday morning— and how many took all or part of the day off. Sump said some of the bands make the choice to stay overnight in San Antonio, while others use charter buses to allow students to sleep in comfort on the trip home.
He said, “My wife and I have many years of chaperone experience at Bowie and can appreciate the fact that UIL state finals competition is only offered every other year for the six state classifications. Studies have shown that students with high academic achievement records are also participating in creative learning opportunities such as a fine arts program, and that might suggest that band students can more readily recover academically after being out of school for one or two days.”
Until next year…