Holly, MI — March 9, 2020
Ben Baldwin has been the band director at Holly High School for seven years, and during that time the Bronco Marching Band has performed in various venues. This month he will help give his band students the opportunity of a lifetime. The Broncho Marching Band
will be traveling to Ireland and performing in the Limerick International Band Competition on March 15. They will follow that performance by marching in the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17, 2020!
The Bronchos will be among only a few high school bands from the United States performing in the parade, along with bands from several U.S. colleges. The parade committee recommended the American bands perform popular and upbeat American songs to represent the culture and to bring liveliness to the parade, according to Baldwin.
Holly High School’s Bronchos Marching Band will play “Confidence” by Demi Lovato and “I Like It” by Enrique Iglesias. “I went through 100 arrangements of songs trying to find something that would fit our band and sound good along the parade route. My whole idea was to provide energy to the festival,” Baldwin said.
It is expected there will be over 100,000 spectators on St. Patrick’s Day for the parade. The Dublin Parade is the most famous St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world, held in the capital of Ireland. Being selected to participate in the parade is not the band’s first taste of success. The band won the 2016 Detroit Tigers National Anthem Contest and performed the national anthem during the Tiger’s opening weekend that year.
The band has performed for the Detroit Pistons three times, most recently Nov. 28, 2019.
The Broncho Marching Band has also performed at the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas,
the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida, and the National Memorial Parade in Washington, D.C.
“In Texas, for the Alamo Bowl, we performed with bands from Hawaii, Texas, New York and
California. It was cool to watch them merge cultures and see what bands were like in other places” said Baldwin. One of the things I like to do with my band students is to expose them to other places and cultures around the county and the world instead of just performing around Holly.”
To make it possible for the band to perform in Dublin, Baldwin had to submit an application. He sent the band’s resume, videos of the band’s recent performances, letters of recommendations from music professionals, scores from competitions, the band’s biography, and his own list of accomplishments along with his biography as band director.
“We were notified of our selection by the Lord Mayor of Dublin,” Baldwin said the Bronchos got new uniforms, a new routine and new choreography for the special occasion. “We have to make sure the band looks good as well as sounds good.”
They have been practicing intensely outside when the weather allows or through the hallways of Holly High School. “The group has really high-performance standards and strived to become more disciplined and focused. They work really hard. “We stand out among marching bands because of our sound and our highly developed marching skills.”
Peter Bissett, a senior, noted. Peter has been playing the saxophone for over six years. He played with the band for a Detroit Piston’s game against Orlando Magic at Little Caesar’s Arena. “It was fun to play in the court and hear people cheering for us,” Bissett said.
Bissett also performed at the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. “It was the biggest stadium I’d ever been to. Being with other marching bands, being out on the field playing songs and seeing the crowd was pretty cool,” Bissett said. In the band’s last competition of the season at Brandon High School, the Broncos received their highest score ever, while ranking second.
“In the season just completed, we took first in a couple of competitions and had straight #1 ratings at MSBOA ( Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association) Festival. We also received the best drum major award in Lapeer,” said Marshall Schaefer-Rice, a junior who has also been a band drum major for two years.
Mackenzie Carr, 16, a junior, has played the clarinet for eight years and said she is looking
forward to playing in the parade because it is one of the biggest parades in the world for what she considers one of the biggest holidays.
Jase Cabatingan, 17, a senior, has been the drum major for the last two years and said for the small town of Holly and the small but growing band of Holly High School, this opportunity has never occurred before. He is grateful to Baldwin for getting the band so far and also credits the band’s dedication paired with their raw talent for helping them achieve their goals.
Ethan Palm, a junior, has played the trumpet since sixth grade and said they were required to ship their instruments to Ireland between a week and two weeks before the parade.
“It’s nerve-wrecking, but I have faith that everybody knows their stuff,” Palm said.
He noted they would be practicing through fingering, but this was out of their normal routine.
“Years ago when Mr. Baldwin first introduced to the idea of the parade in Ireland, I was in
middle school. It’s kind of crazy to think it’s almost here now,” said Zayna Ward, who is a
sophomore and has played the saxophone since sixth grade.
Baldwin would like to see the Broncho marching band perform in the Tournament of Roses
parade in California or for the presidential inauguration.
“Once we get back from Ireland we’re going to try something even bigger and even better. I tell my kids when you go for it, you won’t always get it. But, sometimes you will and when you do, it’s great!” Baldwin said.