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Braden River, Lakewood Ranch high school bands march with meaning

Marching Mustangs and Marching Band of Pirates present shows that are personal to them

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Each year Braden River High School’s Marching Band of Pirates and Lakewood Ranch High School’s Marching Mustangs put in hundreds of hours of work practicing and refining their shows for the competition season.

This year is no different, and yet, it is.

Each band has a show with an emotional connection to its bands as they work toward the state championships Nov. 23 in Daytona Beach.

The local bands take a major step toward that goal Oct. 19 during Lakewood Ranch’s annual Music in Motion competition, which matches 14 bands, including Braden River, while the Mustangs do not compete but perform two exhibitions (5:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.).

The competition begins at 1:30 p.m., with Braden River competing first at 4 p.m. and then in the evening between 7-8:15 p.m., depending on its standing.

Lakewood Ranch’s show, “The Angular Objection” honors five band family members — two students, two parents and a longtime staff member — who died in a span of eight months last year.

“From the outside, it looks like a show about angles and geometry, but for us it’s about putting broken pieces back together because we had a trying year last year,” Lakewood Ranch Band Director Ron Lambert said.

The first movement, “Fragments,” is the representation of a broken heart, and the second, “Angels,” pays homage to those the band lost. The last movement, “Cohesion,” symbolizes that the band is stronger than ever.

Lambert characterized the 145-person band this season as a phoenix rising from the ashes.

“The band didn’t fall apart, which is the amazing thing,” he said. “We’ve grown. The spirit is as high as ever. These kids are amazing. Last year they marched great despite all of that. They didn’t disrupt our tradition of excellence, and they were eager to come back.”

Every time Madi McCoy, a Lakewood Ranch senior and band captain, marches onto the field, she remembers her friend, Matt Powers, who died in a car accident last year.

“His drill spot is always in my heart,” McCoy said. “When I go on, I’m thinking this show I’m performing is dedicated personally to him and to everyone that we can’t hold dear to us anymore, but we can still hold in our hearts.”

For Braden River, this competition season means trying to win a third state champion title in a row, which adds pressure to a band with many young members.

“What I like to think is this band has not won anything yet,” said Penelope Sugg, a senior and head drum major. “In the past our school has — that’s our reputation — but this band still has to earn our name and work even harder than we did last year because we have all these new people, and we need to make sure that each of us are striving for our highest performance level.”

The band’s show, “Rise,” is an inspiration from Principal Sharon Scarbrough’s motto last year that the “river keeps rising,” Director Jeramiah Bowman said.

The first movement is a sunrise, second is to demonstrate personal triumph, third is the rising of the band’s tempo, and lastly, the fourth movement shows the river rising and consuming the field.

“At the end, the rivers are more symbolic for us because we’re Braden River,” Bowman said. “We’re all the river. We all pull together, and at the end we overcome any sort of obstacles or challenges.”

On Oct. 5, the Marching Band of Pirates took home first place in Class 3A at the Seminole Sound Spectacular at Seminole High School in St. Petersburg. The band won best music, best visual, best general effect, best percussion and best color guard.

Both Lambert and Bowman said it’s incredible to see how far the bands have come.

“You go from saying, ‘This is your left foot; this is your right foot’ to some of the ninth graders to a point now where you can’t tell the ninth graders from the 12th graders,” Lambert said.

Seniors at both schools have mixed emotions about this season being their last with their bands.

“I’m feeling some nerves, and there’s some anxieties to it, but all in all, it’s still exciting,” McCoy said. “It’s invigorating every time. You just finished the show, you put your arms down, and you’re standing tall. And I don’t mind if this is my last time because I’m proud of it.”


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