By JENNIFER MEIER
CHESTERTON, Ind. — Despite drizzle, the constant threat of thunderstorms and a slippery field, the Class B marching bands of Goshen, Concord and Northridge high schools received gold ratings at ISSMA regional competition and will move on to semi-state in two weeks.
The Elkhart Central Blazer Brigade, also a Class B band will head to semi-state at Pike High School in Indianapolis. Class C bands from Northwood and Fairfield earned gold ratings at their regional competition at Lafayette Jefferson High School and will perform at semi-state on October 27 at Decatur Central High School.
Fifteen Class D bands played in a heavy downpour from 11 a.m. until after 2 p.m. at Chesterton. By the time Class B bands took the field around 5 p.m., the rains were reduced to a drizzle.
Family members in the stands and ISSMA officials anxiously checked their phones and watched as the weather system moved through the area. ISSMA Contest Manager John Brane, a 38-year veteran of band competitions with two grandchildren in the Goshen band, said that regionals would have to be moved indoors if the storms produced lightning.
Even though the heavy rains held off and temperatures stayed mild, Goshen had technical difficulties to handle.
“We did the whole show about an organ without the organ,” said Director Tom Cox. “The synthesizer wasn’t working.”
Goshen’s program, “Musica d’organo” features organ music throughout the show. Pre-show organ music could be heard as the band set up on the field, but Cox explained that came from an iPod.
“I think the kids did a great job,” Cox said immediately after the performance. “It’s certainly not what you want to have a show about an organ, but no organ. But I have the hope we will move on. You know, live to fight another day”
Goshen Drum Major Karis Neufield was optimistic about the evening’s show.
“I think it went as well as could be expected when the organ went out,” Neufield said. “The kids reacted very well and there were no major mistakes.”
The Raider Band of Northridge High School was the first local band to take the field and finished its show in the rain. A slippery field didn’t slow their fast-paced performance and Director Brad Zook was pleased with program.
“They handled the rain and slippery field wonderfully and I’m thrilled it,” Zook said. “They just keep getting better.”
Assistant Director Bryce Cone agreed with Zook’s assessment.
“The kid’s did handle it very well and they gave us the best ending we’ve seen,” Cone said.
On his way to the Class B award ceremony, Senior Drum Major Brian Jones said the band’s show “Et In Terra Pax” (And On Earth, Peace) was, “Definitely the best performance of the season.”
The Concord Marching Minutemen were the second to the last band to perform in Class B competition with “Clash of Patterns”.
“I think it was a spirited performance and I know they were trying as hard as they could out there,” said Director Scott Spradling. “It held together pretty well, and we’ve been struggling with that. That was our first full performance of the show and that can be a bit sketchy. We practiced in the rain today and they handled that extremely well.”
Although the skies never cleared, the rain ended around 7 p.m, well before the Goshen and Concord performances.
“We were just pleased it wasn’t raining and it’s about the warmest it’s ever been at Chesterton,” Spradling said. “Usually it’s about 30 degrees colder. That being said, I’m just really proud of the kids and we’ve got to keep moving forward and getting better,” Spradling said.
Concord Senior Drum Major Jack Hinkle was also pleased with his band’s performance.
“I felt we put in all the effort we could have,” he said. “It felt great, like we put all of our emotion into it. It was our best run.”
Senior Drum Major Austin Robbins agreed.
“I feel really happy with our performance,” Robbins said. “The kids put their energy into it and it felt really good. I was really happy to see all the bands out here. It’s been a tough day weather-wise, but they’ve all been rockin’ it. Chesteron’s done a great job making sure the site is awesome for us.”
Pike High School in Indianapolis hosts the ISSMA semi-state competition on Oct. 27 where 20 Class B bands with vie for the top 10 spots. Those bands will move on to state competition on Nov. 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Class C bands, including Northwood and Fairfield, will perform their semi-state shows at Decatur Central High School also on Oct. 27. The top 10 Class A, C and D bands will also perform at state competition on Nov. 3 in Indianapolis.