The Perryville High School March Band is preparing for the Music USA Festivals competition which will be held April 19-21 at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. During first-hour band class, the musicians have been taking advantage of the balmy spring weather to practice marching, which takes them on a circuitous route through the city streets.
"When the weather is this nice, we really enjoy rehearsing our marching performance," said PHS assistant band director Michael Harrer. He leads the 80-member high school band with director Jay Peters.
"On April 21, the marching band will perform Vehicle, a 70s rock song made famous by The Ides of March, in front of judges from all around the country," Harrer said. "We'll compete against other similarly-sized high school bands from across the nation."
The PHS symphonic and concert bands will also compete at Universal Studios during the festival. Music USA Festivals is a non-profit organization promoting music education through quality evaluation.
The band will leave Perryville High School at 4 pm Wednesday, April 18. The community is invited to help send them off with good luck signs at 3:45 pm. Visitors are invited to park in the bus parking lot after the school buses have left for the day.
"We'll drive straight through the night on coaches provided by the PHS Band Parents Booster Club," Harrer said. "We'll arrive at Universal Studios around noon on Thursday and that's fun day at the park for the students. On Friday, we tour Kennedy Space Center in the morning. That evening our hotel will provide a beach BBQ and then we're going to have a marching rehearsal on the beach at sunset."
Saturday, April 21 is competition day. The marching band, which is the entire group, will be judged as they march through Universal Studios. The symphonic band will also compete, and then the concert band competes, both in sound stages in the park.
The band is coming off some big wins at the state level. They competed March 14 at the River Campus at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, where the symphonic band earned an Honor 1 or Superior rating, and the concert band earned an Honor 2 or Excellent rating.
"We will be performing those same pieces in Florida," Harrer said. "We've been brushing up on them to keep them fresh, but if we perform like we did at state, we will do well at the festival."
The focus in recent days has been on the marching portion of the competition, since the marching band hasn't performed since fall.
"We're doing well," he said. "And we've picked a fun piece that the kids can get excited about, so I think we're going to put on a good show. There's a trumpet solo, and we're letting the kids kind of 'strike a pose' at that part to engage our audience and make it fun."
Harrer said that the annual band card sales make this trip possible. "Many of the students are able to pay for their entire trips through participating in fundraisers like band card sales," he said. "We also have a magazine drive and sell pizzas.
"Band cards go on sale again April 12. We are very grateful to the local businesses that participate by providing coupons for our patrons, and to the community for purchasing the cards."
You can purchase a band card from any student or by contacting the PHS band department at 573-547-7500 ext. 611.
"We also receive a tremendous amount of support from the booster club," Harrer said. "We have a phenomenal group of parents. They have worked so hard for us. They have bake sales and penny drives; it's just amazing. We also have 22 parents who are paying their own way to chaperone the trip for us."
Harrer, who is in his second year at PHS, said he and Peters are also amazed daily by their students.
"We really enjoy the kids here," he said. "We are lucky to have students who are very hard-working, with great attitudes. They are willing to put in the work to make something like this trip happen. I feel it's true for our entire school in general -- we just have great kids."
The band members who will compete in Florida include:
Flutes - Ashley Callier, Paige Craft, Hayley Diamond, Beth Heise, Crystal Luttrell, Julia Unterreiner, Alexis Weisbrod, Kaitlyn White and Kaylie Winschel
Clarinet -- Christine Byrd, Chelsea Crafton, Michelle Daume, Brittany Elder, Megan Galloway, Allison Kaempfe, Kirsten Kinnison, Michaela Kohm, Gabe Lockhart, Sasha Moore, Brittany Norfolk, Makayla Richardet, Cassidy Sander and Cassie Thompson; Bass clarinet -- Audrey Schumer
Saxophone -- Alto -- Kim Brignac, Jacob Lawrence, Kaitlyn Reed and Tony Walker; Tenor sax -- Layne Franklin, Ryan Koesterer, Caleb Sprous and Kelsey Winschel; Baritone sax -- Michaela Cavins and Shelby Roth
Trumpet -- Travis Boettcher, Justin Gross, Makenzie Heberlie, Nate Kinnison, Joni Lungwitz and Jerod Yount; Mellophone -- Luke Edwards, Emily Kuehn and Dalton Phillips; Trombone -- Brett Beier, James Douglas, Danielle Fortnter, Ryan Hoehn, Myles McClure, Devin Sandlin and Dalton Terbrak; Tuba -- Joey Goldsmith and Cole Nations
Drum Majors -- Jacob Bohnert, Tommy Dawson and Kennedy Murakami; Banner -- Bryan Robertson and Tessa Yamnitz; Color Guard -- Heather Cook, Jaylene Dickison, Katherine Kueker, Chloe Laws, Alyssa Mahathath, Molly Noe, Marissa Rousseau, Gloria Vinton and Angela Weibrecht
Percussion -- Snares -- Christian Gray, Shane Metzger and Nick David; Basses -- Drew Pohlman, Tyler McMahon, Matt Stephenson, Tyler Holland and Terry Davis; Cymbals -- Paiton Cooper, Carrie Kaempfe and Caressa Petot