SHELDON—After a shaky start to the season, the Marching Orabs found their footing at StarFest on Saturday, Sept. 28, in Sioux City.
The Sheldon High School marching band placed first out of three schools in their class and sixth overall out of the 16 schools competing.
“What a difference, what a change,” said Sheldon High School band director Cliff St. Clair of the band’s performance on Saturday. “It was way better for us.”
St. Clair contrasted the Marching Orabs’ most recent competitive showing with that of their season opener on Sept. 21 in the Pursuit of Excellence Marching Band Festival in Marshall, MN, where the band placed last out of four bands in their division.
During the week following their first competition, St. Clair’s band students were more focused during rehearsals and were eager to improve aspects of their performance that had earned them a low score.
“The kids just decided that they were going to make sure to get as many things done as we could, and it just really showed up,” he said. “Our performance was much stronger, much more confident.”
Since the Marching Orabs placed in the top 10 of the 16 bands in the preliminary round, they qualified to participate in the finals round of the StarFest competition.
St. Clair said that in years past, bands qualifying for finals at StarFest would perform in the order of their preliminary rankings. This year, however, the bands were selected to perform in a random order.
“So we were in seventh place going into finals, but we performed second out of the 10,” he said.
The Marching Orabs placed sixth in finals, one of two Class 2A schools to make the finals. Sioux Center placed eighth.
The Sheldon band’s routine, titled “Penté,” revolves around the number five, St. Clair explained, and incorporates that number musically and visually.
“We try and emphasize that throughout our show,” he said. “For instance, we have five portable stages that we move around the field and place them and we put soloists on them.”
At the end of the routine, those stages get flipped over revealing five different colors that match the five colors of the color guard’s flags.
Musically, the show uses the pentatonic scale and is set to the 5/4 time signature. The show includes a medley of compositions, including parts of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, which further references the show’s theme.
“It’s kind of a way of tying what would normally be thought of as random music, that just in some ways don’t belong together,” St. Clair said. “But then when you center it on that number five, it connects everything.”
The band will next compete at the Festival of Bands on Saturday in Sioux Falls, SD. St. Clair said Sheldon will compete alongside 10 other bands in Class 2A, which will make the festival more competitive.
“We have our work cut out for us with that. There are some just really good bands from both Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa.”