INDIANAPOLIS – Five northeast Indiana bands brought pageantry and precision to the football field Saturday for the 2015 State Marching Band Finals.
Forty-one bands performed at the Indiana State School Music Association’s finals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Homestead High School took top honors for the area, coming in third in the Class A competition.
The Spartan Alliance filled the field with bright orange and yellow poles, boxes and circles. The guard moved the pieces around during the performance to create various structures and shapes.
It was all part of a complex show titled "Poiesis – An Act of Creation."
The vast band was led by longtime director Steve Barber, who crafted a show that jumped effortlessly from soft melodies to bold crescendos. At times, hundreds of bodies crisscrossed the space.
"To see 291 kids go out and play their hearts out, it’s amazing," band dad Jason Ellert said. "I love my daughter, and I love these kids."
His daughter, Alexandria, plays the clarinet and is a junior. Ellert estimates he spends between 20 and 30 hours a week helping the band.
It is the third straight year Homestead came in third. They have been in the finals every year since at least 1987 and have been champions five times.
In Class C, the 72 members of the Concordia Lutheran Marching Cadets gave director Dianne Moellering a great sendoff in her last competitive show, as she is retiring after 23 years of leading the band.
"I try not to think of it," she said. "One minute at a time. I love what I do. It’s not an easy decision."
The band finished sixth.
This year, Concordia’s theme was "The Greatest of These: Hope, Faith, Love" and centered around a mysterious large white box in the middle of the field. A strong trumpet solo also highlighted the performance.
But the end – when the box’s sides open to form a cross with the word "love" and color guard members float out of the box with white flags – was the crowd favorite.
"I thought it went fine," Moellering said. "What I saw and heard was great."
It was Concordia’s ninth consecutive trip to the finals.
The Angola Marching Hornets delivered a spirited performance of "A Torch to Light the Way" and placed 11th in Class C.
Tiny cauldrons, colorful flags and a fire pit dotted the field as the band and color guard focused on the program.
"I thought it went great. I don’t think we ever performed better than today," said Kylie Bowen, 15. She is a sophomore color guard member who has been in the band two years.
She said her favorite part of the program is the lyrical ballad where the band gathers around the fire pit to express a sense of community.
"It’s full of emotion," Bowen said.
This was Angola’s fourth consecutive trip to the finals under director Kevin Fogle. The band has 90 members.
North Side took home a sixth place trophy in Class B. The band wowed the crowd with a mosh-pitlike ending in which a band member took to the guitar for Nirvana’s "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
An hourglass counted down the length of the peppy performance alongside a large mechanical clock to help symbolize the theme of "Time After Time."
At one point, the band of 130 members dropped to its knees during a quiet moment that drew applause.
Band director Edward King II led the group in its second consecutive trip to the finals. Last year, the group placed 10th.
"This was so exciting," said freshman trumpet player John Miley, 15. "Last year, I was an eighth-grader and getting 10th kind of sucked. This felt like a game changer."
The Spirit of Woodlan returned to the finals for the first time since 2011 and used apples and serpents to illustrate its theme of "The Fruit of Knowledge."
Though it had serious religious overtones, the group gave a light-hearted performance full of spunk, and placed ninth.
The small but mighty band of 56 has practiced two or three times a week for months to make it to the state marching band finals, said director Robert Slattery.