Setting the final sail

It’s rather difficult to put into words the bonds that form among members of the marching band throughout the season, but I imagine it can be summed up by the word excellence. Sections work for months to perfect the footsteps and quarter notes of each drill sheet, creating inside jokes and friendships all the while. By the end, the final hurrah of the final festival, the times of excellent section days, excellent skull banners, and excellent sunburns – now more of a distant memory – culminated to bittersweet tears shed Saturday night as nine seniors took the field for their final performance.

The season's final festival with the Lancaster County Marching Band Coalition was hosted by JP McCaskey High School. The lineup consisted of Penn Manor, Ephrata, Lancaster Catholic, Lampeter-Strasburg, Manheim Township, and McCaskey.

Penn Manor opened with a Bollywood dance party complete with an airdancer snake and holi festival colors. Ephrata followed with a drum-major-less, unusual, and theatrical version of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Catholic had an expectedly classic show featuring traditional techniques and music, ending with their historic church bells.

Midway through the intermission of dancing in the field, conga lining around the track, and scarf lassoing by our very own Andrew Lines, the L-S marching band retreated behind the stands to prepare for its show. The party music and crowd murmuring died away to warmups of “5, 6, 7, 8, hit, hit, out”s and “step, 1, 2, 3”s. In juxtaposition to final show's of years past, a clear sky accented a gorgeous evening, free of excessive wind (to the delight of the color guard).

Eventually the time came for the pre-show huddle. Band and guard members gathered for a heartwarming motivational speech by band director Larry Royer.

“Success is not a destination," Royer said. "It’s every step along the way.”

With that and a touching prayer by senior drummer Sam Welk, the close-knit group gathered around beloved senior tuba player Ethan Byers.

“Let’s make it the best one yet. Pioneers on three. 1, 2, 3, Pioneers!”

And with that, the LSMB was ready to take the field and take the audience through a seafaring experience. As the marching band waited for their entrance, the announcer humorously broke the intermission with, “You may be a redneck saxophonist if you can appreciate the difference between the vibrato of a baritone sax and a chainsaw.”
The band waits to begin its performance
at a festival earlier in  the season.
Photo courtesy of Mrs. Katrina Branting
The pride of the blue and white entered the field and opened the show with the venerable “He’s A Pirate” from Pirates of the Caribbean featuring primitive chain rattling and boisterous brass. After the energizing part one conducted by trombonist Jarrod Lloyd, the ballad was directed by drum major, senior, and trumpeter Megan Doolittle. “Song of Sirens” set a beautiful melody for guard senior Faith Osborne's numerous flag solos and moving sabre moments. The movement came to a dramatic ending when the signature L-S swing flag ensemble enveloped the field.

The reflective silence catalyzed by part two was quickly overtaken by the famous Styx song “Come Sail Away,” an apt choice for the finale. Doolittle opened the number with a stunning solo, and then retreated into the band as the rich low brass section took over the lyrical melody that erupted into a bombastic rock climax. The band shifted left, shifted right, then flooded senior drum major Ben Pontz's platform in the last park and bark to a clapping crowd. The song ended, the audience cheered, the announcer boisterously exclaimed, “the Pioneer Marching Band!”

After the show, Royer stated simply, “It was fun.”

Manheim Township followed L-S with songs of Queen, concluding with “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

McCaskey finished its show “Mardi Gras” -- featuring iridescent purple and green flags and a groovy, confident beat -- with a surprise appearance from its renowned Gospel Choir.

To conclude the evening, every band and guard member from all of the present bands took the field to play the Latin standard "Children of Sanchez", an impressive wall of sound that fittingly concluded an excellent evening.

--Elke Arnesen, Marching Band Reporter
Edited: BP

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