The scorching temperatures of the July and August preseason camps began a journey for the 50 members of the Chipley High School “Spirit of the Tiger” Marching Band that they will not soon forget. In addition to supporting their beloved Tigers at every football game this fall, the band was also preparing for the competitive portion of their own season, putting the finishing touches on their 2016 show titled “The Gift of Freedom.” The band traveled to Milton, FL on October 1 to be evaluated at the Blackwater Classic Marching Band Invitational, where the band received all superior ratings. One week later, the band performed at Troy University in the Southeastern State Marching Band Festival, where superior ratings were also conferred on the Chipley Band. According to Chipley Band Director Richard Davenport, “while the high ratings are certainly complementary, these preliminary evaluations are scheduled as part of our season so that we can receive comments from professional band adjudicators that we use to fine-tune our performance in preparation for our final evaluation, the Florida Bandmasters Association Marching Band Performance Assessment.”
After completing a busy week of CHS Homecoming performances, the CHS Band traveled to Arnold High School on October 22 to perform at the Florida Bandmasters Association District 2 Marching Band Performance Assessment. Panama City Beach’s Gavlak Stadium was the site where 15 area high school bands performed before a large crowd and a panel of state-certified adjudicators. The performance by the CHS Band was the season’s best for them, and they earned the Superior Marching Music Performance Award for their efforts.
This year’s Superior marks the 25th consecutive year that the Chipley Band has earned Superiors at FBA District Marching MPA. The streak started when the band was directed by Tony Taylor, who guided the band through the first several years before Davenport came to CHS in 1999. Hundreds of dedicated, talented and hard-working students are part of this legacy of excellence that took on the challenge of taking their band to the next level of performance each year. These students were also set on the path to success by their directors at Roulhac Middle School, including Allan Williams, Daniel McNeil and the present RMS Band Director (and Chipley alumnus), Mackenzie Lane.
Speaking after the District performance, Davenport said, “The students rehearsed well the last few weeks and performed at their best today. They deserved the great results they earned today, and have represented our school and community with great pride.” Mr. Davenport also expressed thanks to Washington County School Superintendent Joe Taylor for attending the MPA and support the CHS and VHS Bands. The Vernon Band earned rated an overall Excellent rating at the assessment.
The 2016-17 “Spirit of the Tiger” Band is under the student leadership of Band Captain Sawyer Gage, Percussion Captain Colby James, Drum Major Ashley Bunting, and Band Lieutenant Nathan Glover. This year’s show, “The Gift of Freedom” is a tribute to the freedom we enjoy as Americans. The show opens with “Simple Gifts Fanfare” based on the Shaker song, then moves into the “America” from West Side Story, and Neil Diamond’s “We’re Coming to America.” The second movement is a tribute to those defend our freedoms both at home and abroad, and is titled “For the Fallen.” The final movement opens reverently with a moving arrangement of “Taps“ that features senior trumpet player Nathan Glover, then transitions to “America the Beautiful” before coming full circle with excerpts from composer Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” based on the Simple Gifts theme that the show begins with. There are several visual tributes in the drill as well, such as spelling our “USA”, a star, and a tribute to the famous flag-raising on Iwo Jima.
The band’s next event is the annual Marching Band Showcase Concert at 6:00pm on Thursday, October 27. This free concert will also feature the Roulhac Middle School Band at the CHS Performing Arts Auditorium on Brickyard Road and is open to the public. The Chipley Band is also beginning preparations for its annual Veteran’s Tribute Concert, scheduled for Tuesday, November 8 at 6pm.