The Sound of Panther Pride marching band went undefeated on Saturday, October 11th in Fayette at Central Methodist University’s marching band festival. The band took top honors placing first in every aspect of the competition including field, parade, indoor colorguard and indoor drumline. In addition to the four first-place trophies, Oak Grove also took home the best auxiliary unit among 4A bands on field and the best overall drum major award on parade. “This was a fantastic day from start to finish for Oak Grove” exclaimed drum major Madison Letzig!
October 11th was a busy day for Oak Grove high school. Two volleyball tournaments, a rescheduled softball playoff, district choir and the CMU marching band festival all fell on the same date. Due to the philosophy of the Oak Grove instrumental program, some of the students involved in the above mentioned activities missed the competition in Fayette. Nearly twenty students were gone from the band’s performances, which started with the street competition. Despite redesigning the parade block to account for the missing bandsmen, Oak Grove maintained their undefeated status on parade besting 35 bands; a list that includes Boonville, Macon, Fayette, Fulton and Marshall. The only bands scoring higher than The Sound of Panther Pride were two class 5A schools; Troy-Buchanan and Waynesville. Oak Grove’s drum majors Bryce Fangmann, Madison Letzig and Cayla Wilhoit were named the best drum majors on parade among all bands regardless of class! Increasing the difficulty of parade marching is the added requirement unique to the CMU festival of playing while executing a left corner. “[playing through] the corner was stressful; but we pulled through” stated sousaphone section leader and senior DJ McCloud. Clarinet section leader CJ Reeves agreed, adding “It was really difficult to play in 5/4 time through the corner but I think the judges noted the difficulty involved and rewarded us for it”. As most band members trekked to lunch after marching on parade, the Oak Grove drumline had mere minutes to regroup for their indoor performance.
“The indoor drumline performance was amazing,” exclaimed clarinet player Kiera Rogers whose sister plays xylophone within the frontline. She added, “It was loud and so powerful!” The Oak Grove indoor routine utilizes two of the songs played in the ‘Planets’ field show, ‘Venus: The Bringer of Peace’ and ‘Mars: The Bringer of War’. Three members of the drumline were participating in other Oak Grove high school activities, which left the group under the direct student leadership of Co-Captain Anna Lee. The absences also created unintended solos for sophomore vibraphone player Cordelia Minnis and senior tenor player Nathan VanVleck. All Oak Grove drumline students rose to the challenge of the day beating out not only every drumline in their classification, but all twenty schools choosing to participate! Judge Dustin Mott from Kansas City explained on his recorded critique, “You’ve got an excellent, well thought-out and executed show. You’ve got the whole package here Oak Grove. It was a joy to listen to you today!” A full sweep was well underway with two aspects of the festival done, and two left to perform.
Eighteen girls comprise through audition the Oak Grove colorguard unit. These band members forego their instrument and most of their mornings to provide visual interest to the band both on parade and on field. The Oak Grove colorguard has a long-standing reputation of excellence across the state for their contribution to the ‘Sound of Panther Pride’ marching band as well as in the indoor competition arena. Performing the bands’ field show closer ‘Jupiter’, Oak Grove once again gave audiences a perfect demonstration of how and why their reputation came to be. Oak Grove placed first in 4A division and was only out scored by Troy-Buchanan for the entire day. “The highlight of my day was watching the phenomenal colorguard performance,” flute player Josie Felden said. Mellophone player Sam Sallee wanted to add simply, “Oh my, WOW!” In addition to the flawless indoor performance, the Oak Grove colorguard was named the best on-field auxiliary unit. With the sweep nearly complete, there was only one final piece of the puzzle – the field show!
Gustav Holst wrote ‘The Planets’ suite nearly one hundred years ago for full orchestra. The collection is required listening at colleges and universities in nearly every music appreciation class. Arranged for marching band, ‘The Sound of Panther Pride’ has had great success in competition with their ‘Planets’ field show. October 11th in Fayette was no exception. With a ten-point spread between Oak Grove high school and second place Fulton, the band completed their flawless sweep! Oak Grove has only swept one competition in their storied history; that being at Odessa in 2004. “Personally, from where I was standing, it was one of the best field shows we have ever had. I am proud of everyone in the band. We work hard for what we do,” stated clarinet sophomore Alyssa Fitzpatrick. “I love the awards ceremony in general, but to have Oak Grove called out first place in everything…it was really like the end of an awesome movie!” added Madison Letzig. “The day was not only good for the band, but good for Oak Grove all around,” stated Sound of Panther Pride director Nathan Long. Director Beth Jinkins chimed in “These are great kids who go to a great school in a great community. We’re very proud to be panthers!”
The Oak Grove community will be able to watch the award winning ‘Planets’ field show Friday night during halftime of the senior-night football game at panther stadium. The Sound of Panther Pride will conclude their competitive marching season on October 18th at the Missouri Days marching band festival in Trenton, Missouri.