BY KENDYL COUNTS AND SOPHIA WENGIER
On May 12, the Sound of Pride Marching Band and Color Guard took to the stage for their 11th annual end of year performance. Through an interactive prism concert, performers showcased their work from throughout the year as a final hurrah before the seniors graduate and that year’s band is immortalized in memory.
Encore! features 33 acts from all parts of the Sound of Pride program: marching band, concert band, colorguard, and percussion. Performers began preparing for the show weeks ago, with students attending hours of rehearsal leading right up to the day of.
The night kicked off with a social hour at 6 p.m., when friends and family arrived early to enjoy refreshments, participate in raffles and chat with the performers before the three and a half hour show began.
“It’s amazing how much work goes into this,” band parent Maria Weaver said. “You can tell by the amount of people that are here to see the show – they know it’s going to be great.”
As social hour ended, the auditorium filled up with friends, family, faculty and even alumni – some of whom graduated years earlier, when today’s seniors were freshmen.
“It’s different not being [a part of it],” Sound of Pride alumni Alex Zaffos said. “I always want to play when I see them on stage – it’s a little bittersweet.”
Started in 2007 by former band director Chris Schletter, Encore! combines all musical and visual elements of the band program into one production. Each year, Encore! gives the students a chance to put their talents on display for their supporters without any judges in sight. Because the event takes place long after the competitions and evaluations have ended, students have more freedom to perform what they like, from movie classics like the “Star Wars” theme to a Kazoo rendition of “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson. The chorus even participated in the celebration of modern music, performing the upbeat “You’re Welcome” from Disney’s Moana.
The junior varsity color guard made their Encore! debut with a lyrical routine to “How Will I Know” by Sam Smith, and the varsity guard performed their award-winning winterguard routine to “Everything Must Change” by George Benson. At the end of the show, both groups joined together for a masked routine, which they concluded by advancing threateningly into the audience.
By redesigning movements from the field to fit the auditorium, Encore! achieves a mixture of indoor music with outdoor motion. Performers utilize not only the stage, but the entire auditorium; members of the ensemble march up and down the stairs, providing the audience with an immersive, surround-sound experience. Consistent with the form of a classic “prism concert,” the moment an act ended, a new one began unannounced. The combination of a lack of introduction for each act and the fact that it could occur anywhere in the auditorium kept the audience on their toes.
Surprises were not only reserved for the audience, however. To celebrate Jed Davis’ 25th year of teaching percussion at Cooper City High School, the Sound of Pride Drumline performed the drum cadence “Spider,” which Davis first taught to the drum corps Suncoast Sound. This act of appreciation added to the emotional atmosphere of the night – for the students and staff of the program alike, Encore! is one of the Sound of Pride’s most memorable performances each year.
As per tradition, the theatrical production revisits the music that was performed all year – the concept from which the name Encore! was devised. This year, the Sound of Pride redesigned their marching band show “The Right” to fit within the auditorium and played select concert band pieces that were performed at the State Music Performance Assessment. This gave students the opportunity to play their favorite pieces one last time before they pack it away to begin learning the next marching band show.
Encore! is the last time that senior band members get to perform with the Sound of Pride, proving to be very emotional for some. Towards the end of the show, the seniors get together and sing “the band song,” a tune that was written many years ago by a Sound of Pride member with lyrics about family, hard work and lasting memories. Band members come together for this tradition before every performance as a symbol of the unity between them. As seniors stood with their arms around each other and sang this song for the very last time, many teared up reflecting on how far they have come.
“For seniors, it’s our last performance with a family that we have come to know and love,” clarinet captain Melanie Smith said. “We have fun making music with each other, but we are never going to be able to do something like this, with these people, ever again.”