Have you ever received a personalized note? Perhaps for your birthday, or a holiday? Hopefully you recall a time when someone gave you a handmade card expressing their admiration for you, or wishing you a “Merry Christmas.” During the first home football game of the year on Sept. 9, the Pride of the Mountains marching band debuted their new production for 2017, which is entitled “Take Note!”
The inspiration for the name came from the desire to express to fans the magic of a note, whether musical, handwritten or digital, and the desire to show the audience their version of a handwritten letter. “Take Note!” is also a reference that “notes” the many ways in which people communicate, whether through email, text, card or other means. As for the band members themselves, according to Assistant Director Matt Henley, they are “stoked” for their upcoming performances.
The production is presented by B. H. Graning Landscapes Inc., and is designed and implemented by Director of Athletic Bands David Starnes and Assistant Directors of Athletic Bands Matt Henley and Jon Henson. With freshmen membership reaching over 200, and a large number of veteran members returning, the 2017-2018 marching band includes nearly 500 members.
The performance also includes internationally recognized talent from Doug Thrower for the band’s musical arrangement, along with Jamey Thompson for their drill design. According to Henley, these two men, who are already known for their contributions to the pageantry arts and marching band activity, were essential contributors to the production this year.
In the show, as the 485-member band begins to move across the field, they remind the audience (with a disembodied voice over a loud speaker) that “music is the international language of mankind” as they play pieces of Bach and Beethoven. They move again to form a grand piano, with a complete keyboard made up of the members of the color guard. As they complete the piano, the band blasts Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” for a spectacular moment for all the fans to experience.
The band continues with pieces of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” along with “I’ve Got The Music in Me” by the Kiki Dee Band, music from the Grammy Award-winning band Snarky Puppy, timeless music from Count Basie, and a blend of Cajun and big band jazz, all while forming familiar figures such as a staff and treble clef.
Much like the lasting impact of a handwritten note or letter, the Pride of the Mountains marching band created lifelong memories by concluding the performance with the resounding notes of One Direction’s “Story of my Life” and Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable.”
Aside from their incredible new performance, this fall will be one of the busiest on record for the marching band for recruitment performances. Beginning Sept. 30, the band will perform for over 3,000 spectators at the Enka Land of the Sky competition, which will showcase 30 of the region’s top high school bands, and on Oct, 21, the 17th annual Western Carolina University Tournament of the Champions will take place, with 25 other high school bands from across the Southeast participating.
For November, the band will tour South Carolina, performing for high school bands in the Charleston area. While there, the Pride of the Mountains will serve as the featured exhibition band for the 2017 South Carolina Band Directors Association 5A State Marching Band Championship. High school bands from South Carolina will compete for the title of State Champion in preliminary and finals competitions. The prestigious event will take place on Nov. 4 at Irmo High School in Irmo, South Carolina.
“Take Note!” was an incredible performance to behold, and was certainly a spectacle of familiar music and astounding visuals. The performance was flawless, with dance-worthy jazz from the band and an awesome show of choreography from the color guard, with the finishing touch being a note of appreciation to the fans rolled out by the guard, and the band ending in the formation of an open envelope. The band as well as those watching in the stands are sure to remember this set for years to come. Anyone interested in watching a video of the debut performance can visit The Western Carolinian’s Facebook page.