A Lexington high school clutched its 23rd marching band title Saturday night in Bowling Green, winning the Class 5A state finals.
Lafayette High School placed first in its class in the all-day Kentucky Music Educators Association Championships, an annual competition that features the state’s top 30 bands in five classes. Each class features the top six bands, which compete for the number one spot.
Lafayette High placed first in Class 5A with a score of 93.5. Lafayette had the state’s largest band, with 224 members on the field, performing a space-themed show titled “A New Dawn,” under the direction of Robert “Dee” Bishop and assistant directors Chris Strange, Aaron Jones, and John Bowmer.
“It was just a culmination of hard work by everybody — parents and staff,” Bishop said. “We started planning in December and we are not too far removed for planning for 2024. It is a long process, and that culminated last night with a wonderful performance by the students and we couldn’t be more proud.”
The show was designed around one word: “home.” When the band staff began exploring the idea, they thought of someone going off and finding their new home, which led the group to thinking of outer space. The performance featured musical numbers “Letter From Home” by Pat Metheny, “Frenergy” by John Estacio, “Earth Song” (from “Music of the Spheres”) by Frank Ticheli and “Earth” by Imogene Heap.
Lafayette won its last state title in 2021 with a production of “Peace of Mind,” also directed by Bishop.
Last year’s 5A state champion, Madison Central High School, placed second with a score of 91.1, followed by Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and George Rogers Clark High School of Winchester. Competitive classes are determined by the size of the school and the size of the band.
Bands are judged on a scale of zero to 100 by a panel of six judges, who evaluate musical performance, visual performance and general effect.
This year’s competition was held at Western Kentucky University, which has hosted the bands 14 times, according to the KMEA website.
In Class 1A, Washington County High School in Springfield took home first place. Beechwood High School took home first place in Class 2A. Beechwood tied with Estill County High School with a score of 88.3, but Beechwood claimed the crown because it had a higher music score.
First place was awarded to Murray High School in Class 3A. Bourbon County High School took home first place in Class 4A with a score of 88.5.
Here’s the full list of results:
1. Lafayette High School
2. Madison Central High School
3. Larry A. Ryle High School
4. Paul Laurence Dunbar High School
5. George Rogers Clark High School
6. North Hardin High School
1. Bourbon County High School
2. Anderson County High School
3. Daviess County High School
4. Christian County High School
5. Madisonville North Hopkins High School
6. Tates Creek High School
1. Murray High School
2. Adair County High School
3. Russell County High School
4. South Laurel High School
5. Taylor County High School
6. Garrard County High School
1. Beechwood High School
2. Estill County High School
3. Glasgow High School
4. Russell Independent High School
5. Hancock County High School
6. North Oldham High School
1. Washington County High School
2. Mayfield High School
3. Williamstown Senior High School
4. Campbellsville High School
5. Nicholas County High School
6. Owensboro Catholic High School