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Thousands of high schoolers put music in motion this weekend at the Dome in St. Louis

Connor Stanley, a clarinet player with the O’Fallon Township Marching Panther Band, rehearses a portion of their show “Rewriting Reality” on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, before competing at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Connor Stanley, a clarinet player with the O’Fallon Township Marching Panther Band, rehearses a portion of their show “Rewriting Reality” on Friday, before competing at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship in St. Louis.

Updated at 10 p.m. with new photos from the competition Friday.

O’FALLON, Ill. — The thundering roars of fans and fight songs in football stadiums fell silent last year due to the pandemic, but the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band is back to bringing music to the gridiron.

When they're not playing for the home crowd at football games, you can find the Marching Panthers spending hundreds of hours each season perfecting their halftime performance.

This weekend they will compete against nearly 60 other high school marching bands in the Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional. The annual event is happening this Friday and Saturday at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis.

Brandon Snyder, a senior trombonist in the marching band, said being able to compete once again has been a highlight of his senior year.

“We’re pretty much back to the norm that we were at two years ago,” he said. “It feels really great after what we’ve been through as a band.”

Brandon Snyder, a senior trombonist with the O’Fallon Township Marching Panthers, performs on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
Brandon Snyder, a senior trombonist with the O’Fallon Township Marching Panthers, performs on Friday at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

The O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band is a powerhouse among marching bands in the St. Louis area.

The group was a 2018 Bands of America Grand National finalist — one of the 12 top-scoring high school marching bands in the country — and has appeared in multiple college bowl games and parades over the years. On New Year's Day, the band will represent the state of Illinois in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.

O’Fallon Township’s field show this year is called “Rewriting Reality” and features music by Elton John, and '80s synth-pop band A-ha, as well as original music by Cirque Du Soleil percussionist and composer Aaron Guidry.

Many people may imagine competitive marching band performances are something like they might see in a parade or a scene from the 2002 film “Drumline,” but that isn't quite right.

O’Fallon Township High School band director Melissa Gustafson Hinds said the performances include many aspects of the arts such as music, theater and dance, adding it’s like a “fine arts production that’s very outside, [and] has a lot of athletic ability, creativity, emotion — all of these things.”

There are some moments in a live performance that cannot be replicated anywhere else, said Snyder, the trombonist.

“You hit the final note — the last sustained note is just beautiful. It's glorious, and it just kind of rings out. Then there’s that silence for a couple of seconds and then everyone erupts and they start cheering,” he said. “It’s absolutely exhilarating, and I’ve really never experienced anything else quite like that last hit of a show.”

You can purchase tickets to the 2021 Bands of America Super Regional Championship at musicforall.org.

More photos of the O'Fallon Township Marching Panthers:

Ben Smith, a junior drum major for the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers, conducts the band through warmups on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, during a marching band rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois. The band will compete at the Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional this weekend at the Dome at America’s Center.
Brian Munoz
Ben Smith, a junior drum major for the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers, conducts the band through warmups on Wednesday during a rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois. The band will compete at the Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional this weekend at the Dome at America’s Center.
Olivia Bookman, a flutist with O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band, sings during warmups on Wednesday at a rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois, ahead of the Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional Championship.
Brian Munoz
Olivia Bookman, a flautist with O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band, sings during warmups on Wednesday at a rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois, ahead of the Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional.
Connor Stanley, a clarinet player with the O’Fallon Township Marching Panther Band, rehearses on Wednesday in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Brian Munoz
Connor Stanley, a clarinet player with the O’Fallon Township Marching Panther Band, rehearses on Wednesday in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Reid Brokering, a senior contra player, warms up on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, during a marching band rehearsal at O’Fallon Township High School’s Smiley Campus in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Brian Munoz
Reid Brokering, a senior contra player, warms up on Wednesday during a marching band rehearsal at O’Fallon Township High School’s Smiley Campus in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Dr. Melissa Gustafson Hinds, the band director at O’Fallon Township High School, gives the marching band instructions on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, during a rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Brian Munoz
Dr. Melissa Gustafson Hinds, the band director at O’Fallon Township High School, gives the marching band instructions on Wednesday during a rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Dr. Melissa Gustafson Hinds, the band director at O’Fallon Township High School, watches as woodwinds rehearse a feature in their show “Rewriting Reality” on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, during a rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Brian Munoz
Dr. Melissa Gustafson Hinds, the band director at O’Fallon Township High School, watches as woodwinds rehearse a feature in their show “Rewriting Reality” on Wednesday in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Brandon Snyder, a senior trombonist in the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band, performs a duet on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, during a rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Brian Munoz
Brandon Snyder, a senior trombonist in the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band, performs a duet on Wednesday during a rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Ben Smith, a junior drum major for the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers, conducts the band through parts of their field show “Rewriting Reality” on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, during a rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Brian Munoz
Ben Smith, a junior drum major for the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers, conducts the band through parts of their field show “Rewriting Reality” on Wednesday during a rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Delaney Kirk, a junior baritone player, and Kaile Hogenson, a junior color guard member, perform a portion of their show “Rewriting Reality” on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, during a rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Brian Munoz
Delaney Kirk, a junior baritone player, and Kaile Hogenson, a junior color guard member, perform a portion of their show “Rewriting Reality” on Wednesday during a rehearsal in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Nathanael Boston, a junior trumpet player with the O’Fallon Township Marching Panthers, hypes his section up on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, before competing at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
Nathanael Boston, a junior trumpet player with the O’Fallon Township Marching Panthers, hypes his section up on Friday before competing at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship in St. Louis.
Cullan Dixon, a sophomore tuba player with the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band, walks to ensemble warm ups on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, before competing at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
Cullan Dixon, a sophomore tuba player with the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band, walks to ensemble warm-ups on Friday before competing at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship in St. Louis.
Members of the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band file into The Dome at America’s Center on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, before competing at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
Members of the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band file into The Dome at America’s Center on Friday before competing at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship in St. Louis.
The O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band performs on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, during preliminary competition at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
The O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band performs on Friday during preliminary competition at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis.
The O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band performs on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, during preliminary competition at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
The O’Fallon Township High School Marching Band performs on Friday during preliminary competition at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis.
Trophies are refracted on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at a Bands of America Super Regional held at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
Trophies are refracted on Friday at a Bands of America Super Regional held at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis.

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