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Hail to the marching bands, with shout-outs to El Diamante and Clovis West

Once a band person, always a band person. (I refuse to bow to convention and label those of us who appreciate marching bands “geeks.”) At least once a year, I try to catch a marching band competition in the Fresno area — preferably the Western Band Association finals, which gives me a chance to see some of the finest marching bands in the state.

So it was great fun for me yesterday to attend the WBA competition at Central High School’s Koligian Stadium. (Because of rain, the schedule had to be revamped.) The bands I watched were very strong, with many moments of visual and musical beauty. Ayala High School of Chino Hills and James Logan High School of Union City duked it out to a first-place tie in the AAAAA (largest) division — a tie that was later broken in favor of Ayala per the rule book by considering high scores in specific judging categories. Both bands were amazing.

But the heartiest local congratulations go to El Diamante High School Marching Miners of Visalia, which placed first in the AAAA division, beating out a whopping 17 other bands from around the state. What’s more, El Diamante’s score of 90.95 meant it placed third overall among all the bands in the competition, including the bigger-division bands, just behind Ayala and Logan. El Diamante won top scores in its division in General Effect, Visual Effect and Music.

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Catching up

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It’ll take me a while to get back into the swing of things after my two-week trip to New York City. (I plan to write more about the experience in my Sunday column and online.) So bear with me.

First I want to ask a theater-related question: Did anyone get out to see the original musical “Havin’ a Hot Flash” a couple of weeks ago at the Tower Theatre? I’m always interested in original works, and I’m curious to hear how this project played out. What did you think?

For the remainder of the week, I’ll be doing some catch-up. Tonight I’ll be at Fresno State to watch “Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter,” directed by Kathleen McKinley, which opened Friday. I need to get over to the Fresno Metropolitan Museum to see two new exhibitions, “Marc Chagall: The Early Etchings from the 1920s” and “The Art Books of Henry Matisse,” which both opened in mid-October. (Pictured: Chagall’s “The Ass and the Dog.”) I hope to work in a return trip to “All in the Timing” at Artists’ Repertory Theatre, a title that delighted audiences at two Rogue festivals. And there’s a slew of mid-November events to get ready for, including Tchaikovsky at the Philharmonic, the touring show “The Wedding Singer” and the Western Band Association championships.

Besides the big hoopla over the mural, did I miss anything else of interest while I was out of town?