Avon High School Marching Band: Passing the Torch

A photo of the Avon Marching Black and Gold.
2021 Bands of America Preview – The Avon High School Marching Black and Gold portrays Olympic athletes as warriors.

Article sponsored by DeMoulin Brothers and Company

The Avon (Indiana) High School Marching Black and Gold is ecstatic to return to Lucas Oil Stadium for the Bands of America Grand National Championships.

“Through the support of our administration and band boosters, we were fortunate to have a marching band season in 2020” as the world contended with the COVID-19 pandemic, says Jay Webb, director of bands. “Having a season was a success in and of itself, but we missed the big stage and bright lights. A cornerstone of the Avon band program is to teach excellence through competition at the highest national levels. Whether that means competing in World Class at WGI [Sport of the Arts] with our guard, winds, and drumline, Indiana State School Music Association events, or Bands of America, it is our philosophy that the students will rise to the occasion if given the opportunity.”

Athletics, Majesty, and Struggle

Avon’s 2021 production, “Passing the Torch,” has been a long time in the making. “We originally drew inspiration during the buildup to the 2020 Olympics and from the Amazon warriors [in the movie] ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’” says Daniel Wiles, artistic director and director of guard. “We channeled these influences into a show brimming with pomp and circumstance, power, and glory. The show begins with a procession of a warrior and the presentation of the torch. A trumpet solo serves as a call to arms for the remainder of the band to prepare for battle. Olympic themes continue with archery, athletic guard work featuring rings, Olympic ring drill formations, and the torch lighting Olympic cauldrons around the field.”

The musical repertoire consists of “Slalom” by Carter Pann, “The Fire of Eternal Glory” by Dmitri Shostakovich, and original compositions by winds arranger Vince Oliver. “Instead of using a wide array of different pieces/composers, we chose to keep the selections limited and to reimagine this material in different ways to explore the variety within the concept. We use ‘Slalom’ in the front portion of the show to illustrate the athleticism and excitement of the journey, and the Shostakovich melodies weave throughout the show to represent both majesty and struggle,” Oliver says.

Student Ownership

The show has taken on its own life within the band. “At the end of the day, the students perform the show,” Wiles says. “The students maintain the Avon standard. The students have to pass down the knowledge and experience of how to strive for excellence.”

We hope you enjoy the Avon production, “Passing the Torch.”

Also read our preview of the Claudia Taylor Johnson High School Marching Band’s 2021 show.

Photo courtesy of the Avon Marching Black and Gold

About the Author

Lee Allman is a freelance music educator and arranger based in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he serves as the percussion director for Avon High School. He has taught the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps since 2015 and is currently the front ensemble arranger. Additionally, he is a front ensemble instructor at Rhythm X. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

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Getting a Boost

Thoughts on this issue from editor and publisher Christine Ngeo Katzman. From Halftime Magazine, a print publication and online community about the marching arts.