Well the college football season is over and with Ohio State banned from a bowl game this year that means the season is also over for the Ohio State University Marching Band. While the OSUMB has been widely known for its excellence for decades, this season has seen the band’s fame reach new heights. Under the leadership of new director Jon Waters, the band has truly embraced its unofficial motto of ‘tradition through innovation’ by putting on a series of shows that combined traditional elements of the OSUMB’s style with modern drill design. From the surfer moving across the field in the season opening Beach Boys show, the band’s performances this year have captured the attention of the world, showing up on various websites and becoming a subject of conversation among people who would never really consider themselves Ohio State or marching band fans. The Beach Boys show was the first to achieve this online fame but it was far from the only show that did so; the salute to NASA show made the rounds online as did the dancing alien from the Mayan apocalypse show. Of course nothing reached the same level of fame as the video game show from the Nebraska game which appeared on countless websites, newspapers, and television newscasts throughout the world, becoming perhaps the most talked about and viewed marching band show in history.
Of all the various genres of music that are popular today, few people would put classical music at the top of the list. Numerous arts organizations have attempted to expose more people to classical music through various methods, such as symphony orchestras putting on concerts of classical music that appeared in old Looney Tunes cartoons with the cartoons playing in the background. For many years the OSUMB has loved to put on classical music shows, using the combination of powerful pieces of music set to interesting drill to expose football fans to a genre that they may not listen to very often. This year’s classical show featured music that was used in the two Fantasia movies, Disney’s own attempts to expose people to classical music.
The show opened with the band entering from both endzones to the sounds of numerous bass drums before launching into The Pines of Rome, a powerful piece that is one of my favorite classical music pieces ever. The band performed a drill that was heavy on block band marching and straight line formations, including an impressive 90 yard long company front with fireworks going off in the background. While straight line drill seems like it would be rather easy, it is actually quite difficult to a very high level as there is no forgiveness for being out of position, even the slightest of misalignments are immediately obvious to every observer.
The band then segued to Russian Dance from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker which featured more of the animated figures that the band has made their signature this season. The band formed a man and woman who danced on the field before then morphing into a mop and bucket that danced as in the signature scene from Fantasia, much to the delight of the crowd.
Up next was Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue which featured the band creating a giant piano on the field and playing it. While the playing of the piano was a very creative sequence, the most notable part of this part of the show was the musicality that was displayed; the band did a great job capturing the soaring melodic beauty of the piece. Musicality is a challenge for marching bands as not only does the act of marching impact the playing, the large separation on the field introduces time delays in the sound that one part of the band is hearing from another part (these delays are more noticeable on the field than you would expect) and the simple of act of playing with the volume necessary to fill a huge stadium means that the subtlety and nuance of a piece of music is often lost. The band closed the show with the always popular Firebird complete with a flapping bird and fireworks in an explosive finale to a great season.
Video of the halftime and pregame show is included below, as is a video of the halftime show from the Michigan marching band. It is always great to see visiting bands in Ohio Stadium and while Big Ten bands have a lot of similarities, especially when compared to bands in other conferences, there are differences in style and show design that make watching the shows from other bands interesting.
While the football season is over, the band does have one more performance remaining as the athletic department will host a celebration of the football team’s perfect season. The celebration will be held at St. John Arena on Friday, December 7th with doors opening at 5:30pm and TBDBITL kicking off the festivities at 6:30pm. The celebration is open to the public and is free but you must claim a voucher, instructions are on the OSU athletics website. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the marching band perform one final time this season.
The 2012 season was truly a great one for the band as the introduction of a new director helped spark the band to new heights in terms of quality and fame. Now the bar has been raised and come spring the band staff will be hard at work designing shows for next season that will continue to build on this season. Summer will once again see hundreds of students preparing for tryouts and then in August those students will tryout, with 225 of them being lucky enough to fulfill their dream of being in TBDBITL and continuing the great traditions of the band, I am already excited to see what they will do.