The Highland Marching Ban brought home Firsts in Division Percussion, Color Guard, Drum Major and First Division Band from the Bulldog Marching Invitational on Oct. 8 in Walcott. Evan Brunern also brought home Outstanding Soloist of the Day. The Highland Band excelled over all other bands in the competition with the highest score of the day.
By: Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor
To say the Highland High School Band had a phenomenal year is the understatement of the year. On Sat. Oct. 8, the band performed in the Bulldog Marching Invitational Contest in Walcott and again came out on top.
The unique performance was written by Randall Standridge, Internationally known band composer and personal friend of director Greg Bruner. Standridge hails from Jonesboro, Ark. The band marched to the four movement production of Standridge’s Reign.
The band brought home Firsts in Division Percussion, Color Guard, Drum Major as well as First Division Band. Evan Bruner also brought home Outstanding Soloist of the Day. The Highland Band excelled over all other bands in the competition with the highest score of the day.
In April, they made school history and were named the 4A State Concert Band Champions. The band was presented rings last week at the Homecoming Halftime Show for their achievements. Arkansas State Band and Orchestra Association (ASBOA) hosted their Inaugural State Concert Assessment on April 11-12 at Bentonville West Senior High School. In the past, band performances have been merely for assessment purposes, leading to an ultimate decline in participation and eventual ending of the concert band assessments in 2004. The program has been revamped to encourage higher participation in the event. This is the first year winning bands have been delegated as state champions in their respective divisions and Highland took home the highest honor.
Through two years of Covid restrictions on one of the hardest activities to be masked while performing, the Highland band persevered and came out on top. Highland took home the inaugural honors and was delegated the Inaugural 4A State Concert Band Champions… a huge honor, one which the Spring River Community was able to show their respect and honor the band as they arrived home despite windy rainy weather and darkness April 12.
The following day, the entire band, along with directors Greg and Hope Bruner and Faith Serna, were honored before the entire Highland student body at an assembly where they were all presented tee shirts from the school. There are 59 high school band members who began preparing for the contest in January.
Bruner spoke of the incredible obstacles the band has overcome and still came out on top as state champions. “We started getting ready right in the middle of the big Omicron outbreak and winter outbreak and missed all those weeks of school in there and rehearsals. We were missing up to 25 percent of our kids for several weeks.” He said they went to Region Concert assessment the second week of March at Jonesboro High School where they received all Superior ratings. The also got a Superior rating in sight reading. This is a competition, where musicians go into a room and study the sheet music for seven minutes before performing the piece. By getting superior ratings in all facets of the program, they were able to advance to the state competition. At the contest, the band is evaluated on their performance of three pieces of music. This includes a traditional march and two additional pieces that they select from pre-approved lists from the state and Texas band associations. “Our classification has to play a certain grade level of music. We played well above the requirements of the rubric. We have to play a grade two but we played a three and four.”
Their winning marching performance can be viewed 4:40 minute mark of this YouTube video.