After countless hours of grueling rehearsals, Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band is just days away from displaying this year’s new production, “Whee See You.”
Catamount fans will get their first look at the show at WCU’s home football opener Saturday, Sept. 10, against Gardner-Webb at E.J. Whitmire Stadium. With more the 200 freshmen and a high percentage of veteran members returning, this year’s Pride of the Mountains will total 476 students, said Director of Athletic Bands David Starnes.
In addition to playing at home football games, the Pride of the Mountains will have a busy slate performing exhibitions at various high school band competitions.
“Whee See You” was designed and implemented by Starnes and assistant directors of athletic bands Matt Henley and Jon Henson. Musical arrangements are by Doug Thrower, a freelance composer and arranger from Ontario, Canada, with the drill design done by Jamey Thompson, a visual designer from Chicago.
The show is an interactive and technological journey that aims to give the audience a perspective of what it’s like to be a member of the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band while displaying cinematography and a live soundtrack. The production will feature songs from artists like Adele, Night Ranger, Wiz Khalifa, Frank Sinatra, One Republic, the Goo Goo Dolls, Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman.
In addition to hosting the 16th annual Tournament of Champions, a competition for more than 25 high school marching bands across the South on Saturday, Oct. 22, the Pride of the Mountains also will take its show on the road. On Saturday, Sept. 24, it will perform in exhibition at the Enka Land of the Sky competition, which showcases 30 of the region’s top high school bands.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, the band will perform in Columbia, South Carolina, at the Blythewood Tournament of Bands, which features high school bands from across South Carolina. And in November, the band will travel to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, to perform as the exhibition band at the Florida Marching Band Coalition State Championships.
“This marks the first time the Pride of the Mountains has performed at this high profile event and we are very honored for the invitation,” Starnes said. “As an organization, we are committed to musical outreach within and beyond the state of North Carolina, promoting the wonderful opportunities and reputation of Western Carolina University.”
Other members of the band’s instructional and design team include Bob Buckner, drill designer; Bobby Richardson, pregame drill designer; Scott Beck, rifle/saber choreographer; Brittany Mastromatteo, colorguard technician; Scott Lanning, Purple drumline director; Chelsea Levine, cymbal technician; and Taylor Barnes, bass drum technician.
Staff coordinators are Kayla Aponte, Carrie Hudson, Shelly Painter and Julian Willis. Drum majors are Taylor Andrews, Zach Henderson, Holly Thomas and Brandon Truitt. Captain coordinators are Justin Aponte, Brandon Kasseb, Alex Larsen, Andre Thacker and Emily Whitaker.
For more information about the Pride of the Mountains, visit the band’s website at prideofthemountains.com.
By Marlon W. Morgan