P-CEP Marching Band Flutes at Livonia Franklin on October 14thThe P-CEP Marching Band flutes strike a pose in the rain (Photo: Julie O'Connor)Plymouth-Canton,MI - Despite the rainy weather and necessary adaptations, the Plymouth-Canton Marching Band exceeded its previous score to win the Flight I Michigan Competing Band Association (MCBA) at Livonia Franklin High School on Saturday, October 14th with a score of 90.725. Again, the Pride of Plymouth earned the highest score of any band that has performed in the competition circuit so far this year.

While marching band, by its very nature is an outdoor activity, rain can damage equipment; therefore, the front ensemble of melody percussion, drum set, and electronics opted to leave the equipment safe in the truck, and not perform. Other adaptations to this year’s show, entitled “ā-rOund,” included Alyssa Scott’s shift from her bassoon feature to alto saxophone. Bassoons are made of wood, and cannot be played outdoors in the rain, so Alyssa transposed from a C instrument in bass clef, to an E-flat instrument in treble clef to play her part in a woodwind feature that also includes a bass clarinet, euphonium and flute. This demonstrated professional-level skills and is a feat to be admired.

Liam Rennolds, a sophomore vibraphone player, had the opportunity to watch the show from a different perspective since the front ensemble, formerly known as “pit percussion” in some bands, could not play. “We definitely heard where our parts were compared to the rest of the band.” Band parent and photographer Julie O’Connor commented on how the kids thought it was interesting to be able to watch the band, since in performance, their backs are to them. She said they really thought it was pretty cool to get the bigger visual picture, and be in the moment with them.

P-CEP Marching Band Quartet at Livonia FranklinThe P-CEP Marching Band features a quartet during their performance of “ā-rOund” at Livonia Franklin High School (Photo: Julie O'Connor)Other soloists that made significant adjustments included senior Sarah Wene on flute, and junior Cooper Rossio on euphonium. Since they could not use electronic amplification, or rely on staff members adjusting the equalizer, their musicianship skills required projection beyond normal circumstances. Playing the typically quiet flute in a duet with the much stronger timbre of a euphonium demanded both musicians play with sensitivity to balance. These featured parts are given by audition. Sarah said that when she found out she was selected, it was “pretty exciting, but I tried to keep myself calm. I didn’t want others to feel bad, but inside I was super happy.” Cooper originally wanted to be a saxophone player, but is happy he landed on euphonium, a brass instrument closely related to the baritone. The marching baritone is more or less like a larger, heavier trumpet, but the symphonic version, which has a bell that goes up, more like a smaller tuba. It has a better sound, and is used in a duet with Sarah. He had to adjust to the rain by emptying the water out of the bell occasionally. His favorite part of the season so far? “I would probably have to say this performance. We didn’t have the front ensemble [electronics] with us, but we still managed to pull through.” Sarah is happy that the band has finished the show, and are now at the point of cleaning it up. Cooper is looking forward to adding the spinning props, even though he will probably not be on it himself.

Guard members Rori Kennedy, 12th grade, Allie Walter, 10th grade, and Hannah Passerman, 9th grade, also reflected how the rain impacted their performance. Rori said “The flag is definitely heavier. You have to pull down a lot more. They get stuck and you get a sail a lot. (This is when the silk of the flag gets caught on the end cap on top). You just stay in time the best you can. It’s a lot of fun. It can be hard, but it’s totally worth it.” Allie added, “It’s our family!” Hannah loves how everyone is a big team. “When you walk in the door, everyone greets you, and everyone is super nice, and you always feel super welcome here.”

The band has won the Bands of America Grand Nationals three times, and is looking forward to representing the Plymouth-Canton community at Nationals the weekend of November 10th. Other upcoming performances include a competition in Clarkston on October 21st, the Great Lakes Invitational that takes place at the Canton stadium on the 28th, and MCBA State Finals on November 4th at Ford Field, the home of the Detroit Lions, in downtown Detroit.