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'Poppins' practically perfect second time around

Worthington High School band members Jacie Lowe, (From left) Becca Christensen, Jaren Solt and Patrick Burns pose following rehearsal for their upcoming performances. (Gordy Moore/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Seeking some supercalifragilisticexpialidocious entertainment? Look no further than the Worthington High School (WHS) Trojan Band's summer preview performance at 6:30 p.m. today.

While being practically perfect in every way is a tall order, eight-year director Jon Loy and his band hope to continue the multi-grand championship success of the inaugural season of their "Mary Poppins"-based parade show, "Over The Rooftops."

"One of the challenges this year has been to take a show we already know and keep progressing, but at the same time make it challenging enough that returning members are still engaged, " Loy said.

This year's band camp, which started on May 29 and took place from 8:30 a.m. to noon weekdays, has been productive as well as a good opportunity to integrate numerous new members into the life of the band.

"Band camp has gone very smoothly, and the weather has been in our favor," Loy explained. "The kids have maximized every moment, and the best part of all of that is that everyone has risen to the occasion. Section leaders and commanders have done a great job of leading, and new members have quickly become a part of the Trojan band family."

The band's show is an inventive, intricate spectacle, with moving house-shaped set pieces, dazzling flags and chimney-sweep dancing.

Although the WHS band is a parade competition-only ensemble, Loy said, "Our style of marching is similar to field marching, but on the street. That is the easiest way to explain it."

Both last summer and this year, Loy brought in band clinician Brent Turner to assist with the visual design elements of the show and advise the band generally.

"We have added a lot more visuals to the show, and also refined movement," Loy said, "Everything is falling into place; it's clean and refined. Brent worked with us last year, and it's nice to bring him back because he knew where we were and where we wanted to head."

Additionally, the band has continued to grow in size.

"We have 130 members this year (10 more than last year), and have used every last uniform and shako (hat)," Loy said. "We have had to borrow from neighboring districts to get through the summer, but that is a positive problem. The district is actively supporting growth and prepared to help us order what we need for the fall marching season."

Leading this mass of humanity are four student commanders -- seniors Jaren Solt, Jeremy Majerus and Alex Purdy, along with junior Brianna Kempema. This is the second year the size of the band and scope of the show have necessitated four commanders instead of three.

"So many entities make up the marching band," Loy said. "It isn't just the band."

Indeed, a 15-member band staff assists with all aspects of the program, from drumline, marching and colorguard to the props, chaperone coordination, and band history.

Another aspect of band camp success and experience is parental support.

"Parents have brought treats and water for breaks and given their children rides back and forth from rehearsals," Loy said. "The uniform moms contribute a lot, and Head Chaperone Lisa Brandt organizes the many parents needed for chaperoning throughout the season."

Through it all, Loy is positive about his band and its potential.

"The colorguard will be amazing this year -- the guard adds a lot to this show," he said. "The drumline is still young, but their growth is so apparent."

Loy also likes where is band is not just in the visual aspects of the show, but also in musical execution.

"As this is the second year of the show, the band is farther along musically," Loy said. "We wouldn't be where we are if it wasn't for the responsiveness of the band.

"We are hoping that judges on the competition circuit will see us for our improvements and increased size of the band, and the determination we have to attain the next level of excellence."

The band's first performance this summer is tonight's open-to-the-public, 6:30 p.m. exhibition in front of WHS, 1211 Clary St. The two summer competitions the band is attending include the Lake Crystal Battle of the Bands on Friday, and the Fulda Wood Duck Festival on Saturday. Both parades begin at 6 p.m.

"We will take 'Over the Rooftops' to the Waseca Marching Classic on Sept. 21, the Luverne Tri-State Band festival on the 28th, and of course, our hometown (Turkey Day) parade on Sept. 14th, as well as WHS Homecoming on Sept. 27th," Loy said.

The fall schedule this year includes a few changes.

"This season, we will be attending the Lake Area Festival of Bands in Chester, S.D., and Algona Band Day in Algona, Iowa, and will not march in the River City Band Festival in Chamberlain, South Dakota," Loy noted.

The ensemble is also looking forward to another band trip in 2014 -- complete with an entirely new show -- to a currently undecided location.

No matter where the Trojan Band is competing and showcasing their evident pride, Loy said, "I hope that as we come down the street, we fill the parade route with anticipation, and leave a smile on everyone's face as we exit the judging area."

The Worthington Area Music Boosters Association will sell root beer floats tonight as a fundraiser for the entire District 518 Music Program. The WHS Drumline will also have a separate exhibition program after the conclusion of the band's performance.