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Enter Bandman: Metallica Announce Winners for First Marching Band Competition

Metal heroes received over 450 submissions from college and high school bands performing elaborate medleys of their music

Forget the gold and platinum records, the accolades and industry awards, the sold out concerts around the world — you know you’ve really achieved rock and roll legend status when enough high school and college marching bands are staging elaborate tributes to your music that you can launch a competition. That’s the level Metallica are at, and today they announced the winners of their first ever Metallica Marching Band Competition. 

Metallica received submissions from over 450 colleges and high schools after the contest was announced last April. Finalists were chosen in the five main categories by professional judges — including representatives from Conn Selmer, a company that manufactures marching band instruments — while the members of Metallica picked the winners. Fans got to have their say as well, selecting one popular vote winner apiece from the collegiate and high school fields.

Auburn University’s marching band took home the top prize of $75,000 for Division 1 schools for the remarkable medley they performed during halftime of an Auburn/Ole Miss football game in October.

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The band starts by moving in a swinging-bell animation — paired with “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” of course — meant to recreate the opening of Metallica’s 2022 concert in São Paulo, Brazil. Later, during “Master of Puppets,” the band takes the shape of a giant guitar, with the fret board lighting up in sync with the riffs. (The elaborate lighting system was built by the Auburn band students with help from others in the College of Engineering). 

The other big college winner was Eastern New Mexico University, which took home $40,000 in the Division 2 and Division 3 category. The large high school prize ($15,000) went to Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, Tennessee; the medium high school prize ($15,000) was shared by Boerne High School in Boerne, Texas and Malverne High School in Malverne, New York; and the small high school award ($15,000) went to Oakton High School in Vienna, Virginia. Auburn and Dobyns-Bennett — which  also won the fan-favorite prizes — received an additional $10,000 each. (The prize money will be used to purchase instruments and equipment for the school bands.)

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