Super Sunday for Marching Bands

This year, the city of Indianapolis—marching band’s de facto U.S. headquarters—also played host to the National Football League’s biggest day: Super Bowl Sunday. The day celebrated the marching arts alongside the football festivities. From pregame to postgame, marching groups helped to entertain the Super Bowl crowds.

Indiana University’s band gave an untelevised pregame performance in Lucas Oil Stadium as the fans arrived.

Next up, Kelly Clarkson sang the National Anthem, backed by an all-star snare line made up of drum instructors and directors from Indiana’s best high school marching bands and led by Josh Torres, director of percussion at Center Grove High School.

“We got to be in the stadium as the teams came out; we were right there on the 50-yard line,” Torres says. “We were just blown away with Kelly Clarkson’s arrangement and performance. It was so neat to be part of such an amazing performance, and I think that will go down as one of the neatest ‘Star Spangled Banners’ of all time.”

In addition, Torres assembled a drum line to accompany Madonna’s halftime performance, which also featured M.I.A., LMFAO, Nicki Minaj and Cee Lo Green. The 100-member drum line included students, staff and alumni from four Indiana high schools: Avon, Center Grove, Fishers and Franklin Central.

“I think my favorite memory was just watching the students break down the barriers that existed between the four schools,” Torres says. “They’re such fierce competitors, and it’s not often that they get to know each other.”

The drum line and “drum major” Cee Lo Green wore custom “Madonna Marching Band” uniforms made by DeMoulin.

Madonna’s team worked with Jon Vanderkolff of “Blast!” for the band’s staging amongst the 600-person halftime cast.

After the game, the Ball State University Band and its Charlie Cardinal mascot appeared on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.”

The various band performances drew rave reviews from fans of the marching arts. “We got some pretty sweet camera time and a lot of positive feedback from people who jumped out of their seats screaming,” Torres says. “People were excited to see that our activity was represented in the halftime performance. It doesn’t happen often, and people were just really excited that the students got to have that experience.”

About author

Elizabeth Geli

Elizabeth Geli is the assistant editor of Halftime Magazine and a journalist/communications professional in Southern California. Her 11 years at the University of Southern California (USC) Trojan Marching Band included time as a flute player, graduate teaching assistant, and student advocate. She holds a bachelor's degree in Print Journalism and master's degree in Specialized Journalism (The Arts) from USC.

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