Rockford High School Marching Band claims first place at State Finals

RHS Band members pointing toward the stars. Photo by Rick Laven.

By Emma Kramer and Lindsey Schmidt

The Rockford High School Marching Band (RHSMB) was the shining star at Detroit’s Ford Field on November 3, 2018, as they defended their title as state champions and claimed first place in the Michigan Competing Band Association (MCBA) State Championships for Flight I. With a score of 94.800, their show “Amongst the Stars” also won the caption awards for Outstanding Music Performance and General Effect. However, winning the state championship wasn’t an easy feat. Coming closely behind in second place was Walled Lake Central (94.300) with Plymouth Canton Educational Park claiming third (94.275).  The band was welcomed home to a fanfare of fireworks and excited fans that lined the driveway of the high school with their cars and flashing lights.

Color guard member Emma Beintema. Photo by Rick Laven.

After hearing the news of winning States for the second year in a row, head director Brian Phillips was elated. “It’s honestly incredible. I’m not even sure that our current students understand how big of a feat this really is. With the bands that we play, with the talent that’s really out there, it’s the most incredible thing. We obviously want that state title back, but to do it two years in a row is just insane.”

The RHSMB wasn’t the only band from West Michigan taking home the title of State Champion.  For the first time in the history of the MCBA Championship, a school from West Michigan claimed the championship title in each flight of competition. In Flight II, with a score of 93.050, was the Jenison Marching Band. Reeths-Puffer in Muskegon took Flight III with a score of 93.225. Lakeshore (Stevensville) claimed first in Flight IV with a score of 90.125, and Godwin Heights (Wyoming) won Flight V with a score of 89.050. Flights are determined based on the number of students enrolled in each high school competing.

On Thursday, November 8, 2018, the RHSMB will perform at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in the Bands of America (BOA) Grand National Championships in the first of two days preliminary performances. Rockford will compete against bands from 23 states across the union for a coveted position in Saturday’s semi-finals round.

The Rockford High School Marching Band creates a large star in the center of the field at the end of their second movement. Photo by Suzie Rolando

Rockford’s new band director and former Michigan State Drum Major Evan Bahm will be going to nationals with the RHSMB for the first time this year.  “[I am] really excited to go down there. It’s going be three days down in Indianapolis, and we’re going to rehearse hard and have a little bit of fun with the rest of all the bands down there. It should be a lot of fun. But we are going to perform and work hard and have a good show and hopefully make semi-finals and who knows after that.”

Bahm’s college alma mater will be featured in exhibition on in the evening of Friday’s preliminary competition. Eight former Rockford band students will perform with the MSU band and include former drum majors Ilene Gould and Daniel Schneider, colorguard Chloe Crysler, Anna Luxhoj, Dana Staublin, Madalyn Steffen and Nicole Vezina in addition to Joel Burns on trumpet.

The RHSMB will perform at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 8. Tickets for preliminary performances on Thursday and Friday are $20.00 and tickets for semi-finals on Saturday are $45.00. For the full schedule and a link to stream the performances online visit