Propaganda propels The Pride of Bixby into top eight at super regional

Junior Blane Sawyer

A line of horns singing Knights of Cydonia by Muse leave chills that surpass a crisp fall day. The symbolism in Propaganda, The Pride of Bixby’s current show, left a mark during the Bands of America (BOA) super regional championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo. this last weekend.

Bixby’s band students joined more than 9,000 students from 63 high schools across the Midwest to compete in the two-day competition. The band took home eighth with the score of 77.00.

This was Bixby High School’s first appearance at the contest since 1991. On Saturday, the band was the last finalist called to the final round, a moment that caused students to scream and yell with excitement, an appropriate response if not in the food court of a St. Louis mall. After leaving, the band prepared for their 10:30 p.m. performance.

Bixby was one of four Oklahoma bands to place in BOA, with Broken Arrow winning the event for the 10th time, Union High School’s Renegade Regiment finishing second and Mustang 10th.

Bixby’s performance uses loaded imagery and the music of Muse, Michael Daugherty, Bjork, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer to produce an emotional response to the idea that the most powerful weapon in the world is an idea, for better or for worse. The tone for the show is set with these words:

We must unite, we must rebuild. Follow me and I will lead you out of the dark.

The band marches in high mark time making visual links to communist Russia and flags marked with the symbol of a hammer lead the march. The hammer and sickle is one of the most recognized symbols of Soviet power.

Other visual elements like group demonstrations and megaphones are carefully choreographed and interlaced with symbolic music. The haunting tune Bizarro by Michael Daugherty was inspired by the Superman story about “Bizarro World,” where things are like our world, only twisted, providing a link to social satire. Daugherty’s work also twistedly mixes the genres of rock and roll with normal symphonic band.

BOA Championships are recognized as the premiere high school marching band events in the United States and Regional Championships offer world-class band performances by many of the finest high school marching bands in America with expert evaluators.

The Pride of Bixby has a proud history having received the OSSAA (Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activity Association) Superior rating for the last 16 years. They were the OBA (Oklahoma Bandmasters Association) class 5A champion in 2002, 4A/5A champion in 2006, 2007, 2008, & 2009, and class 6A-2 champion in 2014.


Lucky Man by Emerson, Lake and Palmer is a medieval story written by Greg Lake when he was 12 years old. It hit #48 on Billboards’ Hot 100 in 1973.

Overture from Dancer in the Dark by Bjork is a 2000 Danish drama featuring Selma, a Czech immigrant and single mother working in a factory in rural America. Her salvation is passion for music, specifically, the all-singing, all-dancing numbers found in classic Hollywood musicals. Selma harbors a sad secret: she is losing her eyesight and her son Gene stands to suffer the same fate if she can’t put away enough money to secure him an operation. When a desperate neighbor falsely accuses Selma of stealing his savings, the drama of her life escalates to a tragic finale.

Note from Michael Daugherty about Bizarro: During the composition of the Metropolis Symphony, I created a work inspired by another foe of Superman: Bizarro (created by Lex Luthor’s duplicating ray) is an imperfect copy of Superman, with spiky black hair and Frankenstein-like features. My nine-minute composition Bizarro is scored for woodwinds, large brass section, piano, electric bass, and a sizable percussion battery that includes three rock and roll drummers. Bizarro inhabits a musical world without strings, and revels in the brash energies of rock and big band jazz, propelled on his course by a fast tempo and rhythmic excitement. Melodic fragments coalesce, contrapuntally, into a swinging yet menacing little theme that is previewed by the flutes and piccolo, taken up by a solo trumpet, and finally performed in a virtuoso canon for three trombones and four trumpets. Colume and intensity keep building as the monstrous Bizarro careens out of control.

Muse, Knights Of Cydonia Lyrics

Come ride with me
Through the veins of history
I’ll show you why God
Falls asleep on the job

And how can we win,
When fools can be kings
Don’t waste your time
Or time will waste you

[Repeat x3]
No one’s going to take me alive
Time has come to make things right
You and I must fight for our rights
You and I must fight to survive

Finals Results

88.60 – Broken Arrow HS, OK
84.55 – Union HS, OK
83.60 – Blue Springs HS, MO
80.10 – Bellevue West HS, NE
79.95 – Eden Prairie HS, MN
79.10 – Bentonville HS, AR
78.00 – Rosemont HS, MN
77.00 – Bixby HS, OK
76.55 – Air Academy HS, CO
75.70 – Mustang HS, OK
75.60 – Haltom HS, TX
75.45 – O’Fallon Township HS, IL
74.50 – Lincoln HS, SD
74.35 – Kickapoo HS, MO

For more from The Pride of Bixby, visit their YouTube page.