Melissa High School’s Mighty Cardinal Band won best overall band and swept the finals at the Aubrey Marching Classic earlier this month, winning a total of 10 awards. The contest featured nearly 30 competing high school bands ranging in classification from 1A to 5A.


The Aubrey Marching Classic includes a preliminary round and a final round. During the preliminary round, the Melissa High School band won best visual, best colorguard, best percussion and best overall band for the 4A classification.


The band then performed among the top 10 bands in the finals and won first place in all categories — a first for the program at this contest — including best visual, best colorguard, best percussion, best music and best overall band. This ranked the Mighty Cardinal Band at No. 1 above all of the competing bands.


Associate Director of Bands Jordan Hayes said the band’s fall 2019 contest show, titled “Chameleon,” is an abstract interpretation of what it is to exist as a chameleon.


“The show is focused on a visual, colorful, bold, vibrant aesthetic of colors blending throughout the production, from uniforms to props, as well as moments of sticking out, because the chameleon is a unique creature that can stand out or blend in,” Hayes said.


The show features music from “Pentium” by Peter Graham, “Birds” by Herman Beeftink, and the funk classic “Chameleon” by Jonathon Batiste, accented with a color scheme of blue, green and yellow. Show preparation began in June during student leadership camp, where the student leadership team pitched ideas, made adjustments and planned rehearsals. Full band rehearsals, which included the drumline and colorguard, started July 23. In September, the Mighty Cardinal Band performed “Chameleon” for a large community audience during the Melissa Band Showcase.


“The showcase was an outstanding night,” Director of Bands Jerry Whorton said. “Our students had a chance to perform at Cardinal Stadium and it was all about the kids: everyone was rooting for them.”


Junior Brianne Finnell was selected as the head drum major for the Mighty Cardinal Band for the 2019-2020 school year and this is her first year serving as a drum major. In this role, Finnell leads the band during performances and she is part of the student leadership team.


“Usually the head drum major was a past drum major before — you kind of learn when you’re an assistant,” Finnell said. “It was a challenge at first, but I learned along the way and I really enjoy it, so it’s really great.”


The Mighty Cardinal Band has one remaining contest this month: the UIL Region Contest on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7:45 p.m. It will be held at the McKinney ISD Stadium and Community Event Center, located at 4201 S. Hardin Blvd., in McKinney. The contest is open to the public, but there will be an admission fee for adults.


After the contest season comes to a close, spectators can find the Mighty Cardinal Band playing from the stands on Friday nights at the Melissa Cardinal varsity football games. In addition, the band will continue to fine tune technique and skill to prepare for the 2020-2021 state competition season.


Directors say they look forward to a fun, entertaining season beyond UIL, and the community can expect to see some unique halftime show performances in the future.