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Marching Raiders field all-classical program

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By JULIE BALL HAMBRICK

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Forget what you think you know about marching bands. Skip the half-time trip to the concession stands. Stay put -- and be prepared to listen and learn. This fall, for the first time in the school’s history, Trimble County High School’s Marching Raiders will present an all-classical music field show.

With a unique theme, important composers and musical selections, Trimble’s marchers and band director Matthew Leedy offer an offbeat, dramatic program that’s unexpected and impressive. That’s right -- no warrior anthems, cheesy ballads, or Top-40 hits. These kids are playing some serious music -- and they’re becoming stronger musicians, too.

This year’s show “Fortuna” is based on an ancient myth about fate. Fortuna was the Roman goddess of chance or good luck. Fortuna controls the Wheel of Fortune and spins it at random, changing the positions of those on the wheel - some suffer great misfortune, others great success. In paintings, Fortuna is depicted sometimes blindfolded, turning a wheel. All the songs in this year’s program relate to the qualities Fortuna embraced, or that support the musical mood.

The band begins on a familiar note with two famous pieces from Beethoven: the German composer’s haunting, well-known “Moonlight Sonata,” followed by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 -- one of the most popular and best-known compositions in classical music.

The third piece, gentle “Venus, Bringer of Peace,” is from English composer Gustav Holst’s seven-movement orchestral Planet Suite. Each movement of Holst’s suite is named after a planet of the solar system. This piece spotlights soloist Christian Lowe on French horn.

In climax, the band performs Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” Countless films have used Orff’s ominous opening and closing movement, “O Fortuna.” The musicians bring it back where it all began, ending with Beethoven’s beloved piece, “Fur Elise.”

Leedy and his 33 students are excited to perform selections so unusual for a marching band. Last year’s program was entirely Latin music. “This year, we wanted to do something really different, so I picked (new) music with educational weight,” Leedy explains. “I want the students to become familiar with these famous composers. It’s always about the education, whether or not you get to bring home (the trophies).

“The kids love (the program) -- and it’s been a good challenge for them,” says Leedy. “The (marching) drill is more difficult, as well.” On August 25, the Raiders marched in Vevay’s Swiss Wine Festival parade, which gave the band vital time to play while marching -- without tough choreography. “We’re a pretty young band, and they’re still learning. I tell them it’s like building a house -- we’re not going to do it all in one day.”

On top of the investment of time and sweat required, all the Marching Raiders volunteer:  marching band is not mandatory. Students may choose only to perform in the school’s concert or jazz bands.

“(Marching) is optional because extracurricular activities eat into students’ time,” Leedy explains. “If marching was mandatory, (that) may force some students to make a difficult choice.”

But Leedy believes his marchers learn more than footwork; they learn important life skills. “A musical education aside, these kids learn discipline, commitment, cooperation, teamwork -- plus it gives them an outlet for their passions,” Leedy explains.

In an effort to increase visibility, the band added local performances at civic events, including the recent Bedford Bash. The Marching Raiders are also scheduled to perform at every home football game.

“We want to be out there, to be seen and heard,” says Leedy. “We want to be a vital part of the school community -- and our community at large.”

He says the band can never have too much community support. Attendance at games and competitions is the number-one way Trimble County residents can show it. And hands-on help is always welcome: “We can use a helping hand with sewing, props, equipment, construction, you name it.” (He adds that the band is in desperate need of an ATV to set up the field show this season.)

By the way, you don’t need a child in band to be a Trimble County Band Booster: “Everyone’s welcome!” says Leedy.

You can also catch the marching Raiders at the following competitions this season: September 15: Northern Kentucky Marching Band Festival, Alexandria, Ky.; September 29: Ballard High School Bruin Invitational, Louisville, Ky.; October 13: Butler Traditional Marching Band Contest, Butler Traditional High School, Louisville, Ky.; October 20: Regional Competition, Madison Southern High School, Berea, Ky.

For performance times and other information, log on to http://www.trimble.kyschools.us/olc/class.asp.