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The City Journals

Bingham High band marches to state title

Dec 02, 2016 03:54PM ● By Julie Slama

Bingham High School marching band recently won its first state title. (Bingham High School)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

In more than 100 years of Bingham High School traditions and 80 years of marching band, the 2016 marching band made school history.

On Oct. 28, Bingham’s marching band won its first state title.

Yet, with the announcement, the band didn’t immediately yell and cheer. The drum major and color guard captain, who had been presented the trophy, brought the award from centerfield to the band, which stood at attention near the sidelines.

“There was an audible gasp, but they had to stand to attention until after the drum major saluted the band, before they could yell and screen and go crazy celebrating,” said Bingham High Director of Bands and Percussion Darin Graber. “It’s been a close, competitive year all year, and it was our music that won it for us.”

Parent LeAnn Veltri said the band’s celebration “lasted a good half-hour. It was so cool and they were so excited. I’ve never seen Darin cry. We were all in absolute tears.”

Nearby Riverton High School placed third in the 4A competition.

The marching band competitions aren’t like those of the traditional performances marching to create geometrical designs but rather a storyline, complete with original composition, choreography and props, Graber said.

“It’s more like a play or stage production that has evolved, but still with precision and evaluated on execution. The competitions continue to push the envelope,” he said.

This year’s performance included original music composed by Gary Gilroy and choreography by drill writer Tim Mikan.

“It was about the afterworld — Inferno, Purgatory and Paradiso, and how good rules over evil,” Graber said.

The band prepares all summer, learning the music as well as the choreography under the 11-member staff, including three who work with the color guard and three who help percussion. 

“We give the students a coordinated dotted book so they know where to move on the field,” Graber said. “More than half of this year’s band is new; we only have 14 seniors. Our students not only were they learning music but how to march and move to it.” 

Veltri’s son, Hunter, is a sophomore and has played with the band’s percussion for two years.

“He used to play football but had to pick between music and sports because it’s a real juggling act to do one of them and maintain being a 4.0 (grade-point average) student,” she said. “The marching band puts in more time than athletes, with four days each week, plus Friday night games and Saturday competitions.”

In addition to preparing for football season halftimes, the 110-member band also teamed up with four other Jordan School District marching bands to march in the 24th  of July parade before the marching band competition season began.

Bingham’s marching band had two preview performances — one at Weber State University and the Annual Salt Lake Valley Preview, they hosted.

The competition included a performance at the Western Band Association’s competition in Southern California, where they finished fifth; Utah State University, where they finished third and won the best color guard award; Mt. Timpanogos Invitational, where they finished fourth; Super Regional Bands of America, in which the band finished 12th; Davis High, in which they placed first and won best color guard and best music; and Wasatch Front Invitational, where they took first place in all areas.

“We were seeded first going into the state competition, but it was so intense all year. We knew it would be close,” Garber said about the state competition in St. George.

The marching band received a police escort and was greeted back at the school with “We are the Champions” playing, balloons flying and banners waved by about 200 classmates and families.