For Carmel High School Marching Band Director Chris Kreke, the school’s third consecutive Bands of America Grand National Championships title was the culmination of hard work and dedication.
“We had outstanding performances in all three rounds that were fueled by the students’ incredibly hard work all season long,” Kreke said. “Every group in the finals is outstanding, and to be considered at the top of that group is an absolute honor. Our design team created a very special production this year, and the kids did a fantastic job of bringing that vision to life.”
Carmel’s score of 97.350 edged second-place Avon with 96.175 Nov. 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. CHS’s theme of “Voyage to Valhalla” captured honors for Outstanding Music Performance, Outstanding Visual Performance and Outstanding General Effect.
“It’s a huge advantage to have several great groups right here in central Indiana,” Kreke said. “We have all been pushing each other for a couple of decades now, and I believe that it makes all of us better having that kind of competition right in our own backyard.”
CHS also won Grand Nationals crowns in 2005 and 2012.
“All five national championships are incredibly special moments in the history of our program, and each of them have their own unique qualities in my mind,” Kreke said. “I’m thrilled to have won for a fifth time, but the really special thing about this championship was the performance that it was the result of. The finals performance was absolutely special and by far our best run of the year. We strive to create a culture of excellence with the students and they certainly rose to the challenge with this one. Perfection is never going to happen, but they were very, very close to it (Nov. 10).”
Senior flute player and drum major Tori Moss seconded that sentiment.
“All season long we have been toeing this line between cleanliness and emotion, with nearly every performance feeling either technically well-done but boring, or emotionally captivating but a bit sloppy,” Moss said. “In that final run we finally found that magical balance where everything clicked. We were harmonious in passion and performance, and it was perfect.”
Senior Caroline Heyl, who plays bass clarinet, has been drum major of the marching band for three years.
“It’s absolutely amazing to have had the opportunity to win once, let alone three times,” Heyl said. “This year represented the end of my story with the Carmel Marching Band. However, like being reborn in Valhalla, I know the legacy of this show will be something to look up to for years to come. I always know a performance is good when I’m able to get lost in it, when I forget how tired I am and stop focusing on minor flaws that may be happening. I knew our finals run was great when we got about halfway through and I was surprised about how far along we were.”