LOHS marching band dazzles at the 2nd annual Dragon Invitational

The Lake Orion High School marching band has a long history of success. That success continued when the marching band hosted the 2018 Lake Orion Bands Dragon Invitational on Saturday at Lake Orion High School.

Lake Orion received the highest score – but didn’t win the invitational.

With painstakingly rehearsed choreography, musical mastery and exuberant performances, marching bands from 12 schools competed in the Dragons’ second annual invitational, which has already grown to five flights (divisions) of competition.

When the final scores were tallied, Walled Lake Central won the competition with a score 86.125, taking home the coveted Draco trophy, a hand-carved dragon statue that the school gets to take with them and display until next year’s competition.

The Dragon marching band performed their show, “It’s All Relative” and received the highest score at the competition, an 86.4.

While the Dragons could have competed on Saturday, bands often only perform in exhibition at their own invitationals, Band Director Michael Steele said.

“A host school can compete but usually they don’t. We’ll get a score that will count for our season, but not for the competition,” he said.

Steele said he isn’t surprised that the invitational has grown, even from the first year when the competition had four flights.

“Yes, we knew that when people saw our great stadium, we knew that they would want to come back,” Steele said. “Honestly, I know of one other director who wanted to come just because of our trophy.”

Some bands that participated last year didn’t attend this year because of scheduling conflicts or homecomings, but Lake Orion was still able to increase participation in this year’s invitational, Steele said.

School board President Scott Taylor, LOHS Principal Steve Hawley and head football Coach John Blackstock presented the marching band trophies.

The Lake Orion marching band began rehearsing their show in late June, with one rehearsal each week over the summer before ramping up practices before school began.

“Our show features the music “Twisted Nerve,” by Bernard Hermann (you’ll recognize this from the Kill Bill movies), “A-Ha!” by Imogen Heap (covered by Pentatonix), “Time In A Bottle,” by Jim Croce, “Clock Tower Parade,” by Two Steps From Hell, and “Clocks,” by Coldplay,” Steele said.

And, despite what some people may think, marching band isn’t just walking around the field. Steele points to studies that have concluded that marching band rivals that of traditional sports.

“They’re carrying around 30-pound instruments, in some cases. It’s pretty physically taxing. I’m not sure most people realize that,” Steele said. “These kids work very, very hard to put everything together.”

This was the Dragon’s first MCBA (Michigan Competing Band Association) competition of the season. The Dragon’s are a perennial presence at the state marching band competition, which is Nov. 3 at Ford Field in Detroit. This is the 17th straight year that Lake Orion has qualified for state finals.

Last year, Lake Orion earned a third place medal, Steele said.

“In order to make something like this happen, we have to have support,” Steele said. “We have 120 volunteers, between parents and students, who will be working at the gates, directing bands on and off the field and helping out.”

With the exception of 2016, the band has been in the top 10 in the state since 2006 and is a four-time state finals runner-up.

For information on LOHS marching band performances or to help out, visit the Lake Orion Band Boosters website at www.lodragonbands.org.

Steele also notes that former Dragons are still coming to Lake Orion for the competition. Once a Dragon, always a Dragon.

“I think this is pretty cool, the Band Director of West Bloomfield High School is Noah Dyer. He is a 2013 graduate of LOHS and is in his first year as WBHS’ director, so last night was his first competition as director and it was at his home stadium,” Steele said.

“Not only that, but Lyla Dyer, his mother, is one of our lead volunteers and is the head of our uniform volunteers and is the past Band Boosters President. In addition, Noah’s next youngest brother, Lucas, is a freshman in the Lake Orion High School marching band this year, so younger brother and older brother both had their first competitions in the same night, at the same stadium and against each other.

“Their sister actually is a Color Guard director at Mount Pleasant High School, as she attends Central Michigan University,” Steele said.


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