Exposition: SEMO Marching Band Opens Final Practice to Public In Prep for Exhibition Performance at 'Bands of America' Super Regional in Indianapolis, IN
It was a sunny and breezy afternoon this past Wed. Oct. 18th, on a field overlooking the River Campus at Southeast Missouri State University—and it was the last major practice day in Cape Girardeau for the SEMO Marching Band, before they hit the road for the Bands of America Super Regionals, for an exhibition performance.
And there was much anticipation for the event this weekend. The title of their 2023 production is: “Becoming One”.
SEMO's Marching Band will be one of two featured exhibition bands playing at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday, October 21, 2023.
Dr. Nicholas Kenney, Interim Music Department Chair, Director of the Show Band and Professor of Music-Horns, talked about what it means to be part of this event.
“So they've been working hard, they've been putting in a lot of hours, it's going to be a really amazing experience. You know, since I've been here, this is my 10th year”, said Dr. Kenney.
“I haven't seen the students working so diligently on any project that they've done since this, and they are now, with this one. And so, it's a really neat thing to see the kids coming together and working very hard”.
Ryan Johnson, a member of the Front Ensemble playing quad mallets on the marimba, shared his experience with the practices and excitement for the performance.
“It's very important to me to get the opportunities to perform but it's also really important to this area and our university to get to represent everything we do down here in southeast Missouri-- especially to all these prospective students and everyone else who really wants to grow with our community”, said Johnson.
For many students, this is the largest band and performance they’ve been a part of. One of those students was Ashley Hagan.
She’s a SEMO Senior and baritone horn section leader, and Elementary Education major. She talked about what it means to conclude her college experience with this event, as she plans for a teaching career after graduation.
“This is the biggest marching event I've ever been to, like in high school and college”, said Hagan.
“So this is just amazing and almost overwhelming with the amount of excitement that we have for it, but it's just gonna be a whole new experience for me, and I'm so glad that I get to be a part of this band and be a part of [the performance].”
Another student, and fifth-year senior Hunter Landstrom, is a Student Band Assistant, and was thrilled to help prepare his bandmates for this event.
He wants to make sure the SEMO Marching Band makes a strong impression on the audience of high school band students, their parents, friends, and spectators at this nationally recognized and webcasted band showcase.
“Dr. Kenney's been [in] the chair position for our music department this year. It's just been nice with Dr. Daughters and Dr. Mizicko, just to have another set of experienced eyes and ears that can help out and make suggestions and help the band get better”, said Landstrom.
A crowd of spectators gathered on the other side of the field watching the band rehearse, which was open to the public. One of those people was SEMO Marching Band Alum, Cape Central Grad, and music teacher, Dave Barani.
He remembers his experience as a student in SEMO’s Marching Band and reflects on what it means to see this group of students head to the national stage--especially considering the many challenges the band has gone through over the past 20 years, including name changes.
“I was at SEMO for five years. I was a student assistant of the marching band back in the day. That year that I was a student assistant, was the year we transitioned from Indians/Golden Eagles to Redhawks”, said Barani.
In perspective, he said, “I know it was a controversial thing, but I'm glad it happened and someone had to do it. But I'm very proud of what the band's doing now. And it's incredible stuff--Dr. Daughters is putting in the work and really making us all proud alumni”.
Raising money to help transport a large University Band and their equipment on the road to such a large event, was no small task.
Dr. Jim Daughters, the Director of Bands at Southeast Missouri State has spearheaded the effort to raise funds for the trip, along with his fellow faculty, alumni and community members, hosting numerous fundraising events to get the band ready for this, and other opportunities.
Dr. Shane Mizicko is SEMO’s Director of Percussion and has been a music faculty member for ten years at the University. He was thrilled about the experience and opportunity for students, and gave a behind-the-scene take on the preparation and coordination of the trip.
“It's been a lot of work--there's a lot of moving parts. I take care of the percussion--all the electronics and all the equipment making sure it gets on to box trucks and gets off in one piece, said Dr. Mizicko.
He added, “and that's a lot with 160 students and a lot of equipment. It's a great opportunity for our students and for the program”.
The SEMO Marching band left around 10:30 a.m. Fri. Oct. 20th to head to Indianapolis for the Bands of America Super Regional, which represents sixty-six high school bands from across the U.S. including areas of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Dakota at the 2023 Championship, presented by Yamaha, in Lucas Oil Stadium.
The High School Band competition spreads over two days, Fri. Oct. 20 and Sat. Oct. 21, 2023. Prelim rounds are all day on Friday and Saturday morning. The top 14 scoring bands advance to the Saturday evening finals where they are judged by a panel of nationally recognized music educators and marching band experts. A full schedule can be found on their website.
Finals begin at 6:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday—and the SEMO Marching Band is scheduled to close the event around 9:30 CDT with their exhibition showcase performance entitled “Becoming One”, on Sat. Oct. 21, 2023.
The Bands of America and Music For All website, has this description about the SEMO Marching Band appearance at the event:
“The SEMO Marching Band was greatly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. That fall football season was cancelled and the marching band was moved to the spring semester for a spring football season. In addition to having 3 band directors in 4 years, there was much change and adversity. This year, our student leadership decided to celebrate our changing band culture in addition to overcoming the adversity the band faced throughout director changes and the pandemic”.
It continues: “Our [SEMO’s] production reflects that struggle, represented in the beginning of our show, then morphs into a rejoicing and hopeful, celebratory mood”.
The pieces slated for performance include ‘Medea’s Dance of Vengeance’ by Samurai Barber; ‘You Give Love a Bad Name by Bon Jovi; ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ as sung by Bette Midler; and close with ‘Fly to Paradise’ by Eric Whiteacre.
In Southeast Missouri State University’s 150th year, this is one performance that students, faculty, staff, and alumni are sure to remember for years to come.