(Posted Nov. 9, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
London High School’s marching band hit a high note on Nov. 5, earning a superior rating at the Ohio Music Education Association’s State Marching Band Finals.
This marks the fourth time the band has qualified for state finals since 2019 and the third time they have nabbed the top rating in that time period. (The competition did not take place in 2020 due to the pandemic.) To qualify, a band must earn a superior rating at a competition during the regular season. London did that twice at competitions at Newark and Thomas Worthington.
For this year’s state finals, the band’s 51 members took to the field at Piqua High School, performing their competition show, “Out of the Darkness,” which also served as their half-time show during football games.
The show featured three songs, starting with “Twilight Overture,” in which color guard member Kaity Chastain performed a solo. For the second song, “Into the Light,” soloists included baritone player Isabella Kerry, trumpet player Jacob Adkins, and color guard members Audrina Maynard, Kelcey Farrell, and Quinton Brown. The song, “Into the Clouds,” rounded out the show.
“The music gets more light-hearted and uplifting as the show goes on,” said Amanda Gwinn, now in her eighth year as band director. “Throughout the show, we use lights that the students hold to depict movement from darkness and lighting the way out of it into the clouds.”
Judges assessed the band’s performance in the categories of music, visual design and visual performance, and overall general effect. London came away with an overall rating of 1, also known as a superior.
Gwinn credited the 11 seniors in the band with helping to make the season a success.
“We have awesome seniors who really buy in, and they set out to lead by example. In a kind and nurturing way, they assist and help build up those younger players,” she said.
Gwinn praised the band as a whole, as well, for their focus on continual improvement.
“They show a lot of perseverance and really, truly embody that growth mindset, like trusting the learning process,” she said. “Every show got better. I think that says a lot about them. Every show, they would find those things they needed to fix and got better which got them where they needed to go.”
Joining Gwinn in guiding the band are assistant band director Cara Willardson and guard instructor Steven MacAlpine. This year’s drum majors, students who serve as directors on the field, were Lily Beyer, Michaela Donoho, Bri Lehman, and Kaylee Stephens.