LISD bands win big


Leander ISD’s bands continue to excel, with Vista Ridge winning first place in the UIL 6A Marching Band contest 

Several of Leander ISD’s high school marching bands recently placed high in local and state championships.

Vista Ridge High School won first place in the University Interscholastic League’s State Marching Band Contest, 6A division, held on Nov. 5 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

This is the first time in 20 years that any school district outside of the DFW area has won the UIL’s top division, for the state’s largest schools. Cedar Park High School won last year’s 5A contest.

“It’s pretty surreal,” said Vista Ridge Band Director Bryan Christian after returning from San Antonio. “In this activity, nobody ‘beats’ anybody else. It’s not a head-to-head competition. We’re awarded points based on people’s opinions of what achieving excellence is. In our activity, bands are very supportive of each other and acknowledge each other’s excellence. Even though we’re competitors, we’re also supporters.”

Vandegrift High School placed third while Leander High School came in fifth at the UIL competition. 

Vista Ridge, Leander and Vandegrift also earned fourth, sixth and seventh places respectively, at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship on Nov. 3, also held in San Antonio.

“We’ve always been the ones that were really close,” said Christian. “We were bronze medalists in 4A back in 2013 and we were 4th place in 5A in 2014… it was really a surprise. We knew that what we were doing was really good. We knew that the kids were performing really well, we knew they sounded great, we knew they looked great and that the show was doing well. We didn’t realize how well it was being received. It touched hearts in a visceral way and even some of the judges admitted on their tape that they became emotional… to know that the show we designed and put together came to fruition and evolved… the finished product was completely unique.”

VRHS seniors Alli Bellows, Alice Palmieri and Gray Beasley shared their favorite moments and memories of the past season. 

“It was a lot to take in at first,” said Bellows, a french horn player. “I think by far, I loved building relationships within our program. I don’t think the most important thing was the place that we got or that we became the champions, it was awesome being able to impact so many people with what we were able to do for them or their lives in the end.” 

“I think the best part of this season for me was looking out at the crowd after we finished performing because I’ve found this year that there are very few things you get to do in life where you get a reaction like that,” said trombonist Beasley. “Our director tells us we may not be able to save a life but we can change one and to see that change is really special.”

“I was really happy with seeing the growth that happened, not only as an ensemble but as individuals,” said drum major Palmieri. “I saw so many people change in so many radical ways it was really cool to see how they improved not only musically but in their humanness and their character and personality just got heightened. Everything grew in so many ways.”

Rouse High School finished as the Class AA champion, sweeping the Outstanding Music Performance, Outstanding Visual Performance and Outstanding General Effect awards, while Cedar Park High School took third place in Class AAA.

The district's 6A high schools also performed at the UIL State Marching Band Contest on Nov. 5, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, with all three bands making it to the final round.