Yesterday I wrote about some of the marvelous high school bands that participated in this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, and their dedicated and hard-working band directors. Because there were thirteen of them, I could only cover half of them in the post. But today, as promised, I am paying homage to the remaining half of these very remarkable band directors and their amazing students. Read on for the details.
Band director Scott Schwarz led the magnificent one-hundred-eighty-one-member Glendora Tartan Band and Pageantry, which hails from Glendora High School in Glendora, California. Scott is in his twenty-second year at Glendora, the longest tenure of any director in the history of the school. The Pageantry is under the direction of Linda Bergslien. Linda is an alumnus of Glendora High School, and when she was a youngster, she was also a member of the Tartan Band and Pageantry. This group, ranked one of the top bands in Southern California, can boast a long list of impressive achievements, having earned over one hundred fifty awards and honors over the last four years. This year’s participation marks the ninth Rose Parade appearance for the school, and the fiftieth anniversary of their first appearance. What I enjoyed most about this band was the seventeen bagpipers that marched behind the banner carriers. The bagpiper uniforms were designed according to the 42nd Black Watch, the most renowned Scottish Regiment. You’re amazing, Plaid Pride!
Next in the parade came band director Christopher Kreke leading the Carmel High School Marching Greyhounds from Carmel, Indiana. Christopher received his bachelor’s degree in music education from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, and he completed his master’s degree in music technology from Indiana University. Two-hundred-forty-four strong, the Marching Greyhounds have garnered the National Championship two times, the Indiana State Championship four times, and have been selected as a finalist for the Bands of America National Championships for seventeen straight years. The group has also won the Sudler Shield Award for outstanding high school, youth, and international marching bands, an honor given by the John Philip Sousa Foundation. The award is one of the highest forms of recognition for marching band programs.The Winter Guard is a two-time WGI World Class Champion and has captured four straight Indiana State Championships. “The students have worked incredibly hard to earn this honor, and I’m looking forward to their performances at Bandfest and in the parade,” expressed Christopher. “This is truly a dream come true for our kids and staff!”
Also participating in this year’s parade was the Homewood High School Patriot Band from Homewood, Alabama, led by band director Ron Pence. Ron, who has directed the Patriot Band since 1996, earned both his bachelor’s and his master’s in music education from the University of Southern Mississippi. Ron garnered the Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association in 1991, 2004, and 2005. The music program in Homewood has been recognized as one of the top one hundred in America. Ron’s three-hundred-twenty-member marching band has represented the state of Alabama in the Inaugural Parades of both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, has appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade eight times, two Fiesta Bowl Parades in Phoenix, Arizona, and three Orange Bowl Parades in Miami, Florida. They have even marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland. Way to go, Patriots!
Head Director Tony White led the Los Angeles Unified Schools All-District High School Honor Band, a group comprised of distinguished student musicians from high schools throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District. This group was huge, three-hundred-sixty members! The All-District Band has been a part of the Tournament of Roses Parade every year since 1973, and Tony has directed the group for the past thirteen years. This gifted band director worked as a music educator at John C. Fremont High School for ten years. Although he currently works as a professional jazz musician playing the saxophone and clarinet, he is still heavily involved with music and arts education, serving as the music and entertainment coordinator in the LA Unified School District. “The challenge for me is maintaining both,” he asserts. This chalkboard champion earned his bachelor’s degree from University of California, Riverside, his teaching credential at Cal State Dominguez Hills, and his master’s degree in educational leadership from Pepperdine University.
From Louisiana, the St. Augustine High School Marching 100 performed under the direction of Jeffery C. Herbert, Sr. The two hundred Purple Knights (Yes! Two hundred, not one hundred!) of this band attend an all-boys parochial school in New Orleans. This unique band has created a style that is uniquely their own, both musically and in marching technique. But let’s not ignore those snazzy uniforms and helmets! And the group has also played a part in Civil Rights history. In 1967, the Marching 100 broke the color barrier by becoming the first African American marching band to lead Rex during New Orleans’ annual Mardi Gras Parade. “The parade used to go through the Quarter at that time,” explained Jeffrey. “But you know those guys in ’67 paved the way for black bands to be able to march today,” he said. The group has also performed at Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida, the Magic City Classic in Birmingham, Alabama, the Southern University Bandfest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the ESPN parade for the Super Bowl in 2013. Well done, Purple Knights!
Rick Moffit directed the Robert McQueen High School Lancer Band, which hails from Reno, Nevada. One of the most amazing facts about this school is that twenty-four percent of the student body is enrolled in the music program. “All of the kids are excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” expressed Rick. This talented one-hundred-forty-six member group has been named the Nevada State Marching Band Champions an impressive fourteen times. They have also marched in the Inaugural Parade for George W. Bush, participated in the Fiesta Bowl Parade and Field Show twice, and were a part of both the 2012 and 2013 Hollywood Christmas Parades. According to Newsweek, McQueen is the number one high school in the state of Nevada. Outstanding, Lancers!
The last high school band to appear was the Colony High School Knights Marching Band from Palmer, Alaska, led by band director Jamin L. Burton. And their presence in the parade marks a first. “They’ve had bands from all around the world in this parade. They’ve never had a band from Alaska,” remarked Jamin. “It is really awesome.” Although this group was comparatively small, only seventy-nine student musicians, they have big spirit. They have been named Alaska State Champions nine times, every year since the band was formed! In addition to the Rose Parade, the talented group performed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009, the Sugar Bowl in 2010, and the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, DC, in 2006. Awesome, indeed, Knights!
These music educators, and many, many more, show just how much of an impact great teachers and their programs have upon their students. We surely do owe them a debt of gratitude, not only for yesterday’s parade entertainment, but for working so hard and putting in so many hours to create such a memorable experience for our young people, for helping to, as this year’s parade theme says, make their “Dreams Come True.” Chalkboard champions, all.