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MAHOMET — Mahomet-Seymour High School’s marching band has been gearing up for something special later this year.
The band showed once again it is one of the top high school marching bands in the state Saturday with yet another Governor’s Grand Championship in the small-school division at the University of Illinois Marching Band Championships at Memorial Stadium.
It marked the 12th time in school history Mahomet-Seymour has taken home the trophy — the second-most of any school in the state.
Late this year, the band will travel to Atlanta to participate in Peach Bowl festivities.
Band director Michael Stevens said M-S has been planning for the Peach Bowl trip for about a year.
“We have a steering committee of parents who will also be chaperones,” Stevens said. “They worked on fundraising, and I’ve worked with travel agents and the Peach Bowl itself.”
They will leave on the six-day trip Dec. 27, returning Jan. 1.
The band will perform during the Peach Bowl parade, which is a competition parade in downtown Atlanta, and during pregame.
It won’t be all music-music-music.
“We will be sight-seeing and visiting the really cool spots in Atlanta,” Stevens said.
Among the stops: The World of Coca-Cola museum (Coca-Cola headquarters are in Atlanta); the Illuminarium Atlanta museum; The Varsity, which Stevens said is the world’s-largest drive-in restaurant; and the Martin Luther King home.
There will also be a banquet for the students and a dance.
“It’s going to be a jam-packed five days,” Stevens said.
More than 200 people will be going on the trip, including parents and fans numbering about 45.
It marks the marching band’s first bowl trip since 2019, when Mahomet-Seymour traveled to The Fiesta Bowl in Arizona.
At the UI competition, Mahomet-Seymour competed against 18 other bands in the small-school division (classes 1A-3A) for schools with enrollments up to 1,100 in winning the Governor’s trophy. O’Fallon won the big-school trophy.
Mahomet-Seymour’s nine-minute show, titled “Escape,” was inspired by the Netflix show “Squid Game” and used many of the show’s schematics.
“We have a really incredible design team, music arrangers, drill team writers, percussion, color guard,” Stevens said. “They worked all spring and part of summer to outline the show, taking our music and input into the design of the show. It takes several months to do that. We toss show ideas back and forth and see what sticks.”
Part of the show comes from “Roman Festival” by Respighi, the opera “Turandot” and “Samson and Delilah” by Saint Saens.
He said it takes “a crazy amount of hours developing the choreography and music.”
M-S holds a 10-hour band camp in June, and another 40-hour camp in August. The band rehearses about eight hours a week after school.
There are 165 students in the marching band.
“We are always working with a large crop of freshmen, and the learning curve can be slow, but they come around,” said Stevens, who is in his 31st year directing the Mahomet-Seymour program.
A couple of soloists have stood out, according to the judges, including Isaac Hanson on alto sax and Tucker Loven on trombone.
“Our drum line ensemble has really stood out for our judges and fans as well,” Stevens said, “as has our color guard. They haven’t been beaten all year.”
In earlier competitions, Mahomet-Seymour was named grand champion at Mt. Zion and finished second to Morton at Metamora.
The band’s final competition will be held at Effingham.