The festival, scheduled for Oct. 24, takes the form of a competition between 30 regional high schools and will be the largest of its kind hosted at Appalachian.
The festival is entirely student organized, serves as a fundraiser for the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity and includes a performance from Appalachian’s own marching band.
Edward McLean, a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, said the festival will feature high school bands from across North Carolina as well as several out of state schools. The bands range from 150 members to 40.
Over its 36 year history, the festival has seen a dramatic increase in size. Paul Sheehan, the former chair of the Marching Band Festival, said it began with less than 10 bands before growing to its present size.
“It has really grown into a regional festival and a regionally respected festival, instead of just a local competition,” Sheehan said.
The festival offers the bands an experience most high school band competitions do not offer. McLean said a big draw for the festival is the field, which is made of turf and has facilities that are beyond the budgets of most high schools.
Sheehan said last year’s composer, Frank Ticheli, was brought in to provide insightful artistic decisions and provide a model for any students who want to pursue music professionally.
“Because in music it’s not as cut forward as in accounting or anything like that, there’s no one right way to do something and there’s no wrong way to do something. It really is all about style and interpretation,” Sheehan said.
McLean said the bands are judged on their music, style and general effect for the main competition, but awards are given for excellence in each section in a band. Each award is sponsored by an individual or organization and the sponsor is given an opportunity to present the trophy.
McLean said parents are also attracted to the festival as a chance to celebrate their children’s accomplishments and see them recognized in a state certified band competition.
“You see a lot of parent involvement because you get to come and see your kids perform. It’s not just a football game where you get to see them and listen to them in the stands, you get to come just to see marching,” Mclean said.
Nolen Hughes, the current Marching Band Festival chair, said the event also gives valuable organizing experience to the members of Phi Mu Alpha and is only possible through their combined efforts.
“I play a minor role, they do all the execution and field work,” Hughes said. “The size of this year’s festival is only thanks to those who’ve built this festival into a notable event over the past few years.”
General Admission is $10 and $5 for seniors, children under 12, and those with.
Story by Sammy Hanf, News Reporter