The Ronald Reagan High School Marching Band Takes Distinguished Honors at Bands of America Grand National Championships, and an Invitation to Represent San Antonio in 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade
The Ronald Reagan High School Marching Band competed in the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, IN this weekend, finishing seventh out of one hundred of the nation’s best bands, and was bestowed the distinguished honor of the invitation to march in the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA. Ronald Reagan High School accepted the invitation, and will be representing the nation’s top band programs in the parade on New Years Day of 2018.
The Ronald Reagan High School Marching Band’s 2016 show was entitled One Love, inspired by a poem about universal love by all people, for all people, by Maya Angelou. The show featured Bob Marley’s “One Love”, Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” among other more traditional classical music pieces. Under the leadership of Head Director Dan Morrison and Assistant Directors Greg White, Mason Daffinee, Ray Ulibarri and Noel Gabrintina, 300 students have taken the field all season to deliver emotionally charged performances at the highest level of musicianship and pageantry for audiences of over 30,000 people in mega domes and stadiums across the state of Texas and the nation.
One Love has been both a crowd and adjudicator favorite all season. The creative team has pushed the activity of marching band to a new level, with their decision to include a featured student vocalist and forty dancers from the Reagan dance program in the show, in collaboration with veteran Reagan Dance Director Valeria Sisson. The team works together like superglue, committing to an initial creative vision and executing a thoughtful high-level approach to the construction of the show’s narrative. One Love had a very clear beginning, middle, and end that led audiences through twelve minutes of a cathartic emotional experience, leaving most either in or near tears and on their feet for the entire final movement of the show.
During a motivational speech to the band before their Grand National Championships Preliminary performance at Lucas Oil Stadium, Director Dan Morrison stated, “This is a time where there has been a lot of turmoil in our country, and a lot of expression of people with very opposite opinions. This show is twelve minutes for people to watch something, and just feel good. To feel connected with you, to feel connected with each other, and for you to feel connected to the audience. And that is why we do this. This is what you are going to remember.”
Dan Morrison also brought in his older sister to Indianapolis, Hollywood actor Jennifer Morrison of House MD, How I Met Your Mother, and Once Upon A Time, to offer encouraging words of support to the students and the staff about delivering a performance to an audience during which you give something of yourself that you have never given before.
The Morrison siblings, Jennifer, Julia and Dan, all pursuing creative career paths, are products of the marching band activity, under the direction of their father David Morrison, Illinois Teacher of the Year, at Prospect High School in Mt. Prospect, IL. Their mother, Judy Morrison, was also their music teacher. “What you guys are doing,” Jennifer Morrison stated to the band, “is going to impact your lives for the rest of your lives. You are performing a show that is much bigger than all of us, at a time in the world where people appreciate seeing something with such a beautiful message. Dig inside and find something personal to you that you haven’t given yet, and give that last little bit. There is always something inside of you that is a little bit more that you can offer. Performance is a gift.”
The students took her words to heart, and gave such a compelling emotional performance in the Finals round of the competition that the Tournament of Roses Parade officials offered the band the invitation to march in Pasadena, CA on New Years Day 2018. Traveling with over three hundred individuals is, of course, very expensive. The band family is eager to begin its fundraising efforts for the trip as soon as possible. To support them already, send a message here.
The Claudia Taylor Johnson Band, Reagan’s NEISD sister school, also competed in the Bands of America Grand National Championships and earned a spot in Finals, placing ninth overall.
Dan Morrison and the talented team of assistant directors, show designers, dance teachers, color guard instructors, and parent volunteer crews have marched the Ronald Reagan Band to the top of every spectator’s heart who saw them this year, spreading the message of love and unity to fans across the nation.