AMERICAN FORK — American Fork High School's marching band is finishing up a winning season by traveling to the Bands of America Grand National Championship.
The marching band recently took first place at the 5A state and regional competitions in St. George, qualifying them to compete at the national level. The Grand National Championship starts Nov. 13 in Indianapolis.
The band packed a semitrailer with all of their instruments Monday, and they will fly out of Salt Lake City in four groups beginning Wednesday night.
“We work really hard and we are just normal high school students who want to excel and show other people what we have been trying to accomplish over this season,” said senior vibraphone player Marjorie Miller.
The American Fork band has been to the national competition before. Their last trip was in 2009 and they try to go every three or four years, band director John Miller said in a press release.
"This provides every student and their parents to experience competition at a National level," Miller said. "Seeing bands that are pushing the envelope and performing at higher levels than any of our students have seen is a huge motivation and learning experience for our students."
This year's show is called "Fury," and it features classical music including "Ballet Suite No. 4" and "1812 Overture."
“In the past they’ve done things that were complicated or intense or more light and jazzy, but this year it’s very majestic," said parent and band booster Becky Miller. "They have used some really powerful classical music to explain their storyline."
The band invited professionals Leon May and John Meehan to design the show based on the students' needs, Becky said. Now they are helping to prepare the band for the national stage.
“As far as the Grand National, it’s just another step up, another level,” Becky said. “It’s something that Mr. Miller tries to get them to aspire to, to get a challenge so they come up to a higher level of performance."
Marjorie said preparing for competitions can be difficult with school, but that the national competition will be the perfect way to end her senior season.
“Performing in front of an audience is one of the coolest experiences you can ever have,” Marjorie said. “One of the things we try to strive for is when you perform and you can feel the energy within yourself, that’s when you can give it to the audience and have them try and feel the same energy that you’re trying to portray through your show.”
The band will perform Friday with 95 other bands, and hope to make it to the final round Saturday for the top 12 bands in the country.
Contributing: Jed Boal