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And They're Off - Panther Band Marching Season Begins

A strong showing for the first competition of the year.

On Saturday, October 13, the Panther Band headed to Franklin High School in Elk Grove for their first official competition of the marching season.  They first met at Benicia High School at 6:45 a.m. to board the bus with their instruments, sport bags, headpieces and suits.  Many musicians were laden with so many items, it looked like they were running away from home.  

On their minds, were the morning’s instructions from Music Director Patrick Martin who said,  “There is zero down-time today.  No time to afford moving slowly.  Everywhere you move, you have to move with purpose.” 

The band was looking at a tight itinerary which had three competition events squeezed into a 3½ hour period.  Their arrival in Elk Grove was such that the bus barely coasted to a stop before they were preparing to set up camp and start their warm-up.  

The Jazz Band took the stage first.  They played three pieces and had many solos, ending the morning with the vivacious Madrid by Eric Morales, as it crashed on the scene and warmed up the day. They ended up taking Second place. 

Next, the Wind Ensemble performed three songs.  One of them, Hold This Boy And Listen, by Carter Pann, was a rich and soulful embrace.  Xerxes by John Mackey was a formidable desert battle (listen to a link performed by the Coast Guard here ).  The composer himself referred to it as “the angry concert march.” They were awarded First place, adding to a decade run of these First place finishes. Concerts give everyone a chance to sit and reflect on the day, to validate the reasons for band in the first place.  These are important moments, wedged between nerves, uniform changes and time crunches. 

Finally, at 1:30 p.m., everyone was in position for the marching event, the first time on the street for this new and younger band.  The day was filled with a chance for the more veteran parents and students to share the challenges and celebrations of a typical band day with new band members and family.  Everyone stepped up to the stress and fast pace of a band day and learned to work together under rigorous conditions.  

As they circled around after competing, their Music Director said, “How’d that feel?  You looked good, you sounded good.  That was definitely the best pass (march) you’ve done all year. Good job.  I’m really proud of you.  That’s the pass you have to do again.  What happens at 4:00 p.m. (awards)...it doesn’t matter.  If you feel good about today, that’s all that matters.  That’s all that really matters.”

As they often do, the band took the time to watch and support other high school bands prior to the award ceremony.  Benicia placed well: The Drum Major placed 4th and the Color Guard won Sweepstakes.  The marching band took First place in the Parade category, two Sweepstakes awards in Marching and Showmanship, and narrowly missed the Grand Sweepstakes award which was earned by Armijo High School in Fairfield.  

Thus ended a 14-hour day for a band who felt good about their wins.  The band will join the Homecoming Parade on Wednesday down First Street, and the Homecoming Game on Friday.  They always enjoy the chance to entertain and let loose a bit with some rock charts, so come on down and enjoy all the fun the high school has to offer.

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