Marian Catholic High School’s Marching Band in late October captured first place in its class at the Illinois State Marching Bands Championship competition held at Illinois State University in Normal.
The band received the highest scores in Class 3A for music performance, visual performance and effect, and remains undefeated in its class since 1980. Winning first in Class 3A earned the band an automatic berth in the final competition, where they placed fifth out of 15 bands across all classes in the finals.
“There are many challenging pieces to our show and placing first in all three categories demonstrates that our students are dedicated, responsible and consistently work seriously to put all the pieces together,” said Greg Bimm, director of bands and chair of Marian Catholic’s Fine Arts Department. “But while winning is nice, it’s really not important. What’s important is that this competition puts Marian Catholic’s marching band in a place where we receive real, honest evaluation from professionals. That brings a different level of responsibility and truthfulness to every person in the program, and it makes us want to be better.”
Titled “Shadows of Things to Come,” the band’s 2022 winning show is a cautionary tale based loosely on Charles Dicken’s classic “A Christmas Carol.” It features 145 students and showcases the music of Gustav Holst, Peter Graham, Patrick Doyle, Karel Husa and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
The band competed at the Bands of America Grand National Championship competition Nov. 10-12 in Indianapolis, earning a I rating in the preliminary round, good for 38th place overall, but not enough to advance to the semi-final round.
More than 100 bands from high schools across the U.S. competed at the event.
“This competition is like coming home for me,” said Bimm, who has led Marian Catholic’s marching band at this competition for more than 40 years. “But, I love to see our students’ faces when they enter this huge stadium and envision their performance here. There’s nothing in the world quite like it,” he explained.
Marian Catholic has one of the most highly regarded marching band programs in the United States and has earned the first place spot at the Illinois State Championships since 1980, a 42-year winning streak that is unprecedented in any arena.
Marian Catholic’s marching band has a record unmatched by any other high school band in the country. It has been named BOA’s Summer National Champion five times; a Class AA National Champion 23 times in 36 appearances; and a Grand National Champion seven times. The band also performed in two Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade and the 2000 Presidential Inauguration Parade.