The Paris High School Beacon Brigade concluded a successful competition season this past weekend, taking second place in the Class AA competition and fourth overall out of 21 bands.
The competition band, under the direction of Kevin Pruiett and Jessica Hendrickson, placed no worse than second in their division in the five competitions, concluding with the University of Illinois Marching Band Championships Saturday, Oct. 20, at Memorial Stadium on the U of I campus.
Other directors of the Beacon Brigade include Zach Casad, color guard; Haleigh Sanders, assistant color guard; and Dan Brickner, percussion.
At the U of I competition, the band not only took second place in the AA division but earned best music and best general effect.
Other competitions included:
nSullivan Marching Band Contest, second in Class AA, best percussion, best visual and second out of nine bands.
-Mt. Zion Marching Music Games, second in Class AAA and third overall out of 19 bands.
-Eastern Illinois University Panther Marching Band Festival, second place Class AA, best color guard and fifth out of 22 bands.
-Effingham Marching Hearts Invitational, second place in Class AAA, best color guard and second out of 22 bands.
This year’s theme of Dia de los Muertos featured a three-movement work by composer Randall Standridge. The show paid homage to the Mexican festival of the dead featuring Latin-flavored music. It also included quotes from Camille Saint-Saens’ piece “Danse Macabre.”
“We really felt that the Latin aspects combined with the level of difficulty would fit the ensemble really well,” Pruiett said. In the case of the marching show, Pruiett noted, “We also have to take into consideration how we can get across the theme visually. This theme and music gave us plenty of opportunities to play with.”
Soloists for the show were Jared Bowers, trumpet; Johnna Armstrong-Watson and Kacey Newhart, flute; and Olivia Theirl, alto saxophone.
Pruiett said selecting the theme of the show is a cooperative effort of all the directors. “Typically, it is a bit of a process because we all have a lot of different ideas,” Pruiett said.
Once the theme is selected, Pruiett said they begin looking for compositions that will fit into it.
The student work on the show begins during summer camp — this year on July 30. The brigade members practice for 2½ hours each Tuesday and Thursday evening on the practice field at PHS. Participation in Beacon Brigade is not required as a band member, he said.
The brigade rehearsed Tuesday and then Thursday enjoyed their end of year party. They were scheduled to perform their show prior to the community pep meeting Friday evening.
Next year’s show theme was revealed during the party, Pruiett confirmed. The theme is “The Witching Hour,” featuring a three-movement work by the same composer of this year’s show, Randall Standridge.
Pruiett said the Beacon Brigade’s success is not possible without the work of the Paris Band Parents. “We have 15-20 helpers per each competition,” he said.
The volunteers handle everything from uniforms to pit instruments and props for the show. Steve Cartright is in charge of sound and Amy Hill is in charge of food.
This year’s brigade was also the first band to wear the new uniforms in competition.