🥁 Oakton Marching Cougars Win Metallica Band Competition

By Office of Communications
Awards & Recognition
January 10, 2024

Photo courtesy of David Custer.

The Oakton High School Marching Cougars, a prestigious 25-year Virginia Honor Band, has been chosen as the winner of Metallica's inaugural marching band competition, For Whom the Band Tolls. Members of the band Metallica, a heavy metal group formed in the 1980s, chose the overall winner from among five finalists. 

The Marching Cougars were selected as the best in the small high school category by a panel of professional marching band judges. They will be awarded $15,000. 

Band Director Jamie VanValkenburg selected the show to align with his vision of the Marching Cougars as a band that engages both performers and the audience through thrilling visuals and dynamic sound.  

“It is a huge honor to win the inaugural competition. It means national recognition for our program,” VanValkenburg said. “The kids, their parents, and I are excited — especially to have had the chance to play Metallica’s music all fall — to win a competition with their name is incredible! The prize money will help us substantially, as we are in need of new marching percussion, specifically a new marimba and vibraphone.”

“This competition provides an extraordinary platform for the Marching Cougars’ talented musicians to demonstrate their achievements and serves as a testament to the vibrant and accomplished music program at Oakton High School,” said Christy Henderson, boosters president. “Their performance reflects the Marching Cougars’ years of dedication, practice, and commitment to musical excellence.”