The walls of the Liberty Bowl will once again be filled with the sights and sounds of the Bandmasters Championship October 30th as the competition celebrates its 55th year.
As one of the largest and most prestigious marching band events in this region, the Bandmasters Championship consistently draws around 25-30 high school bands and has an overall attendance of 8,000 people or more. The following bands from around the Mid-South Region will be competing this year:
- Adamsville High School
- Arlington High School
- Barlett High School
- Brighton High School
- Bryant High School
- Collierville High School
- Crockett County High School
- DeSoto Central High School
- Germantown High School
- Lexington High School
- McNairy Central High School
- Millington High School
- Munford High School
- Northpoint Christian School
- South Gibson County High School
- Southaven High School
- South Panola High School
- Star City High School
While the name “Bandmasters Championship” has only been around since 2002, the competition has been a part of the Mid-South region for many years prior to that. The competition originally started as the Mid-South Invitational in 1963, originally hosted at Whitehaven Stadium. Over the years the competition has been hosted at several other stadiums, including Crump Stadium and Halle Stadium. It wasn’t until 2002 that the Liberty Bowl was finalized as the permanent location for the competition.
During the late 1990’s is when the University of Memphis Band Alumni Chapter began to take on a larger role in the Bandmaster Championship. The Alumni Chapter took on a more present role in the planning and organization of the contest, with the support of the UofM faculty. It was with this support that the competition was able to secure the Liberty Bowl location.
Jeremy M. Stinson, the Contest Director of the Bandmasters Championship, has been volunteering with the event since 2003, shortly after the event was revitalized and renamed.
“Providing a quality location and judges gives an opportunity to the students to experience something completely different from their normal marching season,” said Stinson. “More importantly, they are exposed to what the University of Memphis has to offer them in continuing their education beyond high school.”
The Bandmasters Championship was created with the goal in mind of providing the Mid-South Region with a scholastic marching band contest of the highest possible caliber. With this in mind, the event is first and foremost an educational event. Through participating in the vent and the feedback they receive; students are able to grow their knowledge and skills.
“Bandmasters is such an important even for High School Marching Bands,” said Dr. Albert Nguyen, Director of Bands at the University of Memphis, “This is the culminating event for most of our participating groups. We are honored to be the location that they have chosen to showcase the results of their hard work, passion, and dedication.”
A wide array of awards are presented to the competitors at the conclusion of the competition. This year will be the first year that The Joe Sills Championship Cup is awarded. This award is given to the band that received the highest total band score, regardless of Classification.
“Connecting with our alumni and the music community is fundamental to our mission as a School of Music,” said Dr. Kevin Sanders, the Director of the School of Music. “We are proud to showcase the Mighty Sound of the South and work alongside the Band Alumni Association to engage some of the finest high school band programs in the region while encouraging teamwork, friendship, and the marching arts.”
Community members are welcome to watch the event live at the Liberty Bowl or via livestream. If you wish to join them at the Liberty Bowl, you can buy tickets at the gate or at a discounted rate online.
The 2021 Bandmasters Championship Award Winners:
The 2021 Bandmasters Grand Champion and Class AAA Champion
DESOTO CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL BAND, Southaven, Mississippi
Director: Dennis Cox
Assistant Directors: Devin Burgess, Tyler Hart, Jocelyn Hembunch
Reserve Grand Champion and Class AAAA Champion
BRYANT HIGH SCHOOL BAND, Bryant, Arkansas
Director: Keith Matthews
Assistant Directors: Jay Chipman, Jordan VanDyke
MUNFORD HIGH SCHOOL BAND, Munford, Tennessee
Director: David Stevens
Assistant Directors: Gary Fite, Keegan Paluso, Kenneth Calhoun
Class AA Champion
LEXINGTON HIGH SCHOOL BAND, Lexington, Tennessee
Director: Alan Jones
Assistant Director: Trevor Mayhall
Class A Champion
MCNAIRY CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL BAND, Selmer, Tennessee
Director: Ryan Foret & Ashley Venegas
Assistant Director: Rebecca Kerr, Trice Mayhall, Isaac Splitter
Top Eight Placements & Scores
DESOTO CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL BAND (1st, 91.0375)
BRYANT HIGH SCHOOL BAND (2nd, 87.3000)
MUNFORD HIGH SCHOOL BAND (3rd, 86.4750)
BARTLETT HIGH SCHOOL BAND (4th, 85.5750)
ARLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL BAND (5th, 84.2250)
COLLIERVILLE HIGH SHOOOL BAND (6th, 84.2000)
SOUTH GIBSON COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL BAND (7th, 81.0250)
BRIGHTON HIGH SCHOOL BAND (8th, 80.5000)