CP Band conquers State capturing first place


Students moving left and right, blowing into their instruments. Others are dressed in pink waving their flags in the air and all one can feel is the magic that muisc brings echoing in the wind. CP takes the stage, or in this case the field once again on Nov. 4 in the State Championship. This is a screenshot taken of the Band performing. Courtsety of the CPHS website

Anjali Sundaram , Reporter

The silence echoes through the stadium as the students rapidly head to their positions. Their hearts pounding in their chests and their palms sweating but still palming their instruments. The drum majors lined up in front of the crowd, eyeing their peers. Finally, the drum majors raise their hands and the music begins.

On Nov. 4 the CPHS Band acquired another medal to add to their list of achievements, but this year, it was gold. Performing the classic “What’s Opera, Doc?” they battled hard and took home the State Championship. Senior pit captain Nikhil Kothari explains his initial reaction to the news.

“When we won state, I couldn’t believe it,” Kothari said. “I thought that we were going to get second but when I heard our name called as champions, I screamed. I realized that the hundreds of hours were worth it. It gave me a sense of achievement for my last marching band season.”

Kothari wasn’t the only one that felt the nervousness and the anxiety of the night, freshman Esha Narvekar, who plays in the clarinet section, also had a similar experience.

“I think everyone was pretty nervous because there were a lot of good bands there, but our directors helped us ease our anxiousness by reminding us that we were great too, otherwise we wouldn’t be there right now,” Narvekar said. “State was the big competition that we worked so hard for, so everyone was focused and had a performance mindset. My favorite part was the ending, you could feel that it was amazing when we walked off the field and everyone had big smiles and so many people were crying.”

Junior Mitchell Gregg who plays the French Horn had some of the same sentiments, however expressed a different side to the anxiety faced.

“We were really anxious and exited but nervous because we knew we were good,” Gregg said. “But we also knew that we were competing against a lot of great bands and we knew that all of us improved drastically and we were curious to see how we would compare to those other great bands in the great district of LISD.”

Band State is only held once every two years, meaning that students could typically only compete in State twice in their high school careers. In 2011 CP won State for the first time, which was also the same year CP won State in football. However, in 2013 we fell short and ended up with the Silver medal and Vandegrift taking the gold.

Senior drum major Jackie Farias enlightens us on her take on the reason behind why we were able to take home the gold this year.

“The difference between this year and other years was how our show was put together,” Farias said. “Our color guard director Justin Sullivan had a huge part in creating, ‘What’s Opera, Doc?’ and did an unbelievable job with it. Our directors and all the people who worked with them made this possible for the students to perform and reach out to the audience’s emotions such as their comedic, dramatic and passionate sides. The difference was how the show was created and what the show was created for.”

Head Band Director Steve Wessles, who played a major part in piecing the performance together and for upholding the Band in general according to Band students, expresses his happiness towards the win.

“There is tremendous joy in the pay-off from all the hard work from everyone in the program,” Wessels said. “Every teacher, every student, and every parent made sacrifices for what culminated in the final product.  The people who worked the hardest were the students.  They trusted the band staff, followed our instructions and poured themselves into the daily ‘grind’ to perform the most amazing show of the state.  Knowing that your performance was so great that literally people from all over the world are watching this production would make anyone proud.  Music is powerful of in and of itself and winning state was the icing on the cake.”

Wessles rationalizes why the band won this year acclaiming each student’s individual talents.

“Every year is new and fresh,” Wessels said. “Just like no one human is like the other since the beginning, each show with all the individual people in that show is unique and fresh.  This is what makes this profession and art really cool.”

Along with creating an accomplished band, Wessles also had a hand in picking the performance this year.

“We picked music that was accessible by a majority of people,” Wessels said.  “The title came from the Bugs Bunny Cartoon that had the same goal in the writers mind.  It causes an appetite for the original.   People discover great music that the original contains.”

color guard
An upclose and personal shot of the band and a color guard member during their performence. Courtsety of the CPHS website

According to Farias, “What’s Opera, Doc?” was the perfect piece for the Band to play and was the performance they had been preparing for their entire life; they just didn’t know it yet. She explains Band’s intense practice schedule along with her reasoning on why we won.

“I don’t know where to begin [to explain how we prepared],” Farias said.” To be honest our band family has always been preparing for a show like ‘What’s Opera, Doc?’ From the fundamentals in middle school to learning or perfecting marching in the middle of the summer leading not the new season. Late nights, early morning, in-class rehearsals, sectionals, private lessons, and hearing times rain or shine the band is always practicing. We worked through the hottest part of the day, every day marching and playing on the blacktop. We did CrossFit during summer band. We had the leadership team go through a camp over the summer and continue to lead the band throughout the season with such dedication. The directors would be at the band hall day and night working together on how to make the band better and more successful. To summarize we put ourselves and more into the show and worked for what we accomplished.”


This year, the CP Band had the largest freshman class ever in Band history; however Junior Alek Nybro dedicates the win to the junior class.

“Our junior class was pretty beast,” Nybro said. “Because we have a big junior class and all the juniors playing were pretty strong.”

Furthermore Gregg voices his take on why we won.

“It was [great because we got] revenge, because we weren’t here in 2011 when CP won State Medal and our freshman year we got Silver Medal and now we got it back again,” Gregg said.” Next year we are going to Grand Nationals which is the biggest competition  in the whole wide world of High School Marching Band.”

Gregg also communicates his favorite part about the competition.

“My favorite part about competing in the UIL State competition in San Antonio Nov. 2 2015 was probably when we got to the final note of the show and we held the note out and watching the happy and sad expressions of our drum majors because they were conducting the final note of the show and the notes echoing in the Dome, and the crowd’s reaction and the tears of the crowd,” Gregg said.

However, while there was a lot of happiness integrated with the competition, there were some difficult parts, according to Gregg.

“The worst parts of the competition were falling behind in school,” Gregg said. “Also even though we won, before I was really nervous when they were announcing 1A Whiteface, which was actually one of the schools, but I was actually really nervous and when they got to our division they were Leander was third I knew it was us and Vandergrift for first and second and when they called Vandergrift as second and a little part inside me was like what if they called Vista Ridge in first place and we got fourth place, but that didn’t happen which was good.”

Despite the hardships that come along with being in band, the team celebrated the win by playing a game of “Pony.”

“We rode the pony,” Nybro said. “So we formed a big circle and the seniors all got in the middle of the circle and then juniors surrounded them and then sophomores and freshman and we basically ride around the circle just like riding a pony and we started chanting and we were just really loud and really crazy.”

The State competition is a competition between all the 5A schools in the state. However, LISD has the top four bands in the state, all of which swept the top four spots in the competition with CP at first, Vandegrift at second, Leander at third and Vista Ridge at fourth. Conversely, Gregg notes the difference between this competition and others.

Leander respectively was our biggest competition according to Nybro.

“This was our last opportunity to win State as juniors which was now or never and Leander also beat us in every other competition expect for this one so we wanted to make sure we won,” Nybro said.

Though, during State, drumline initially came up with a tie between Vandegrift and CP, according to junior drumline player Matt Johnson.

“Our final results ended up in a tie of 13 points,” Johnson said. “The tie-breaker was who had the better scores in the music section [we were judged on music and performance], which was CP and that’s how we won State.”

Johnson went on to state why he thought that drumline played a crucial part in the State win.

“I think drumline is special because it’s like its own little sector of the band,” Johnson said.” We say band is like a family but drumline is like a closer family. I’ve made some amazing friends in drumline with memories I’ll never forget. drumline helped contribute to the win because we are the heart of the band, giving the band a pulse and keeping the music alive with our sick beats and amazing finesse.”

Wessels also gives his option on the tie-breaker with Vandegrift.

“The judges thought we executed our show at a higher level than Vandergrift,” Wessles said. “Our performance was executed at the highest level.  There were very few flaws in this performance.  The show difficultly was very hard for marching band.  If you perform a show with high demand, you have to execute it and if you really execute it, you get lots of credit.”

In the end band came home with the shining medal, as Farias credits the Band’s hard work and dedication being the reasons on why CP won.

“The reason why CPHS got first is because the band family worked so hard for it,” Farias said. “They [Band] dedicated themselves to a show that would mean something to themselves and to everyone who watched/watches it. Our goal was not to win State, it was to keep pushing ourselves to the limit, every single day to perform to the best of our ability to have that video where years from now well dig up and be proud of how we performed.”