WCUs Pride of the Mountains Marching Band

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Western Carolina University -
“Pride of the Mountains"- Marching Band

“Légère reeds make tuning the higher range of an alto saxophone in a marching band setting much easier than cane reeds. They provide an overall greater quality and level of sound that is much more predictable than cane reeds. Little change is necessary to succeed on a Légère when accustom to cane reeds. In a solo or indoor ensemble setting the quality of sound that I have been able to achieve on alto and tenor saxophone are far superior to cane and that's why I've made the permanent switch to Légère reeds. - - Mark Vollmer, Western Carolina University Alto Saxophone Section Leader

“The consistency of product that Légère offers in their reeds is absolutely outstanding. You always know what reed you are going to get, no matter what the weather conditions may be like that day. This makes them absolutely essential in outdoor performance. As a clarinetist, I have performed on Légère Signature reeds in both outdoor and indoor settings and have found them to be quite favorable in both environments. Cane reeds can be temperamental and inconsistent at times. With Légère, I know that I will get a high quality reed that produces an amazing tone every single time I pick up my instrument. - - Alex Larsen, Western Carolina University Woodwind Coordinator

How It All Began....

  • 1938 - George Tracy founds the first band at Western Carolina Teachers College. There are twenty-three members.
  • 1941 - The first halftime show is performed at “WCTC. - Student director and Western Carolina’s first music graduate, Joe Hedden, created the show. Mrs. Fisher, (no first name available) serves one year as director.
  • 1942 - Western Carolina’s Band was a war casualty along with athletics and for the same reason...its personnel went to war.
  • 1945 - A renaissance begins for the band. Nelson O. Schreiber, and experienced band and orchestra man, and a war veteran, is appointed director.
  • 1950 - Dr. David Price takes over as band director and the group begins to perform regularly at football games and other campus events. “Our Director - is the first fight song and the first “real - band uniforms appear.
  • 1953 - The institution changes its name to Western Carolina College.
  • 1955 - Harold Smith serves one year as band director.
  • 1956 - Western hires R.R. (Dick) Trevarthen to succeed Smith. Trevarthen would begin the “BOYA - tradition and would later compose the university fight song.
  • 1960 - Trevarthen, who would later return to the music faculty at Western, leaves for graduate school and Aaron Hyatt becomes the new band director. The band numbers begin to grow significantly. New uniforms and purchased, the first in purple, white, and gold.
  • 1966 - Hyatt leaves to complete his doctorate at Ohio State. He would eventually return to Western to serve as Dean of Graduate School and Director of Institutional Planning. William “Bill - Curtin, a Michigan graduate, is named director. Curtin brings “Patterns of Motion - and innovative pageantry to the “Marching Cats. -
  • 1967 - Western Carolina College becomes Western Carolina University.
  • 1969 - The Epsilon Lamba chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi is chartered at WCU. Robert “Bob - Welch becomes Director of Bands. An enthusiastic recruiter, Welch helps the band reach over one hundred musicians and begins the tradition of vocalization for band members. New uniforms and a “precision drill - style of marching helped the band’s popularity.
  • 1971 - A marching band contest is created to serve area and regional high school bands.
  • 1974 - E.J. Whitmire Stadium opens on the campus of Western Carolina University. The pregame ritual of the parade to the stadium is begun.
  • 1975 - The Epsilon Phi chapter of Tau Beta Sigma receives its charter. It would merge with Kappa Kappa Psi in 1998. A volunteer marching band performs for the Special Olympics.
  • 1978 - Welch leaves to complete his doctorate and is followed by Joe Scagnoli. Coulter Music/English Building opens.
  • 1980 - New uniforms are purchased and a color guard is added. The band begins to travel more and performed at Clemson before 65,000 fans.
  • 1981 - R.R. Trevarthen composes “Fight On! You Catamounts - to replace “Our Director - as the official Fight Song. Western Carolina hosts the first of two DCI shows.
  • 1982 - The Western Carolina band hosts the first of two Bands of America Regional Championship Contests.
  • 1983 - The “Marching Cats - follow WCU’s football team on a run through the Division I- AA playoffs, appearing on CBS television in both the semi-final and championship games.
  • 1984 - Sigma Alpha Iota Eta Theta Chapter receives its charter.
  • 1985 - Dr. John T. West succeeds Scagnoli as Director of Bands and takes over responsibility for the marching band. Kappa Kappa Psi organizes the first band banquet.
  • 1986 - New Stylish uniforms are purchased and dancers are added to the roster.
  • 1987 - The traditional “Alumni Tower - warm up is begun.
  • 1991 - Bob Buckner, (WCU class of 67) is hired as adjunct music faculty to direct the athletic bands. During the fall of 1991 he served as the director of both the Western Carolina Marching Band and the East Tennessee State University Marching Band. Matt Henley, WCU music major, is given the responsibility for the development of the marching percussion program.
  • 1992 - A “pit - percussion section and colorguard are added to the band to supplement a dance team. The “Main Event - postgame show becomes a tradition after home football games. Breakdown bands begin appearing in the stadium during games. Staff retreat each spring begins a new tradition.
  • 1993 - The band makes their first off campus exhibition performance in Canton, NC. They also use an amplified soloist for the first time. There are one hundred twenty-two members. The “Showtime - cheer begins.
  • 1994 - There are not enough uniforms to account for the growth of the band. The one hundred sixty members perform in blue jeans, sweat shirts, and baseball caps. They perform to standing ovations at both Furman University and an exhibition later the same day at J.F. Byrnes High School in Duncan, S.C. Band. Birthday announcements begin.
  • 1995 - Dr. John Bardo is named University Chancellor and meets the band as they model new uniforms. In addition to local exhibitions, the band performs at the Bands of America Regional Championship in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. Two new traditions were established: the “crossing of the T in CATS - during pregame and the singing of the Alma Mater both during pregame and at the conclusion of each performance day. Phi Mu Alpha receives its charter.
  • 1996 - Electronics are utilized extensively in the band’s productions. A fifty-three foot trailer is purchased for band travel. Thirty members of the band appear in the movie “My Fellow Americans. - Band renamed “Pride of the Mountains. - A breakdown band becomes a vital part of the Chancellor’s pregame gatherings.
  • 1997 - Electronics are fully integrated into a show featuring the music of the funk band, “Tower of Power. - Tower of Power's drummer, Russ McKinnon, is featured as a guest artist with the band at Homecoming.
  • 1998 - All musical arrangements are built around the involvement of all forms of electronics. Numbers for the band reach one hundred ninety. Performances include a halftime for the Atlanta Falcons football team, along with exhibition performances at the Bands of America Regional Championship in Atlanta and at the Bands of America National Championship in the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. Matt Henley is named assistant director if the band. The “Soul Train - rhythm section is born. The first drum major and leadership academy is held.
  • 1999 - The band’s exhibition tour for the first time included the Charlotte area.
  • 2000 - “Prideofthemountains.com - begins operations. The drumline begins the presenting “cymbals of unity - to new members of the battery.
  • 2001 - The first “Tournament of Champions - marching band competition is held on October 6th with a preliminary field of twenty-two bands. Buckner and Henley are employed full time as athletic band directors.
  • 2002 - The first Alumni Band weekend draws one hundred former members. As their numbers reach two hundred twenty, the band performs in exhibition at the Bands of America Regional in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. One week later, the “Pride of the Mountains - becomes the first and only marching band to ever present a concert/clinic for the North Carolina Music Educators Convention.
  • 2003 - New Uniforms arrive as the band enrollment reaches two hundred thirty-six members. The band makes its second exhibition appearance at the Bands of America’s National Championship in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. They combined with the Riverside College Band to perform the National Anthem with over five hundred band members. In conjunction with the North Carolina Bandmaster’s Association, the band hosts the first adjudication seminar and training for the new state evaluation system. “Partners for Pride - is established by the athletic boosters to support the band’s scholarship fund.
  • 2004 - Enrollment for the band reaches three hundred performers. E.J. Whitmire Stadium receives a facelift as the stadium is completed on the West side. The band makes its second appearance in exhibition at the fortieth annual Cary Band Day and the first Marching Band Concert is held in the Ramsey Center. The “Soul Train - begins presenting tailgate concerts for football games. The tradition of “Hackfest - becomes a part of band camp.
  • 2005 - Three hundred forty-two members make up the “Pride of the Mountains. - The exhibition performances are centered in the Charlotte area and feature the band’s first “fiddle - players. In its third year, the adjudication seminar included a live “simulcast - to participants at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
  • 2006 - Pre-game was expanded with the show opening with a fanfare composed by Staff Sergeant Paul Murtha, staff arranger for the U.S. Army Band. This exciting new piece is based on “Carolina in My Mind. - Dr. Bruce Frazier of the music department faculty was commissioned to compose a second fight song for the university entitled “Catamount Thunder - in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the WCU fight song, “Western -. The band traveled once again to Atlanta to perform as exhibition for the Bands of America Regional in the Georgia Dome.
  • 2007 - Jon Henson, WCU alum joins the team along with Bob Buckner and Matt Henley as assistant director. The three also took on the Army All-American Marching Band. The “Pride of the Mountains - exhibition performances occurred in the Charlotte area again and brought much buzz about the upcoming year.
  • 2008 - The band reaches an all-time high of three hundred fifty-seven members. The first freshman band camp was held. The band traveled to Indianapolis once again to perform as exhibition at Bands of America Grand Nationals in the new Lucas Oil Stadium. The band also preformed with the Riverside Community College playing America the Beautiful, arranged by Western Carolina’s own Dr. Bruce Frazier, and the National Anthem.
  • 2009 - Recipient of the prestigious Sudler Trophy presented by the John Philip Sousa Foundation.
  • 2010 - The band reaches its largest membership to date at 415 members! The band traveled to California and performed in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
  • 2011 - David Starnes from Kennesaw Mountain High School is named Director after Bob Buckner’s retirement. The band performs at the Carolina Panthers vs. the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. The band also performs in as exhibition at the Bands of America Atlanta Regional in the Georgia Dome.
  • 2012 - The “Pride of the Mountains purchases new uniforms (DeMoulin Brothers). The band also performs for the 4th time at the Bands of America Grand National Championships held in the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • 2013 - New musical arranger named, Mr. Robert W. Smith and new Visual Designer named, Mr. Michael Gaines. The competitive Winterguard program is born and competes in CIPA circuit as well as WGI Mid-South Regional in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Application is made for the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  • 2014 - The band is selected for participation in the 88th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and chosen unanimously by the committee to lead the parade into Herald Square. Membership in the program grows to it’s largest in history at 505. This number also sets the record for the largest band to ever perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  • 2015 - The band is selected to perform for the 5th time as the exhibition band for the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana. On this given year, the band takes part in the 40th anniversary celebration by performing, “Back Home Again In Indiana, - in a special ceremony held prior to national championship finals. In addition to this performance, the band creates a new design team to include Doug Thrower, musical arranger from the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps (Canton, OH) as well as Jamey Thompson, drill designer for the famed Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps (Rockford, IL).
  • 2016 - The band performs in exhibition in the state of South Carolina for the first time in many years. This performance takes place in Columbia, SC at Blythewood High School. History is made as the band travels to the state of Florida for their debut exhibition performance at the Florida Marching Band Coalition Championships (FMBC) held in St. Petersburg in the Tropicana Dome.

“After playing on Légère reeds (at least coming from a non-music major), I wouldn't ever play anything different in a marching setting. The sound quality is much stronger and is less airy, and that is essential in a larger ensemble like this one. The upper register is much easier to tune and it's also easier to hear where issues are (if any at all). - - Brandon Key, Western Carolina University Alto Saxophone Section Leader

“I believe Légère reeds to be incredible in any setting, but especially in outdoor performances. Not only do these reeds create more volume for reed players on a marching field, but they are also incredibly consistent when it comes to change in weather. Cane reeds can sometimes be a tough when there are changes in temperature or humidity, but Légère guarantees the same result regardless of change in surroundings. I use Légère reeds for indoor playing as well, and they are equally as consistent. They tune and blend into the ensemble very well. They also hold up extremely well and last a bit longer than cane reeds, which is extremely beneficial. I highly recommend them! - - Emma Schaefer, Western Carolina University Clarinet Section Leader

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