The beat goes on: Commodore, Charger marching bands entertain crowds with halftime tunes

Published 10:30 am Monday, September 10, 2018

The Oxford Chargers emerged victorious over the Lafayette Commodores during last Friday’s Crosstown Classic, but many people might not realize two extra teams took the field that night.

The Lafayette High School Commodore Marching Band and the Oxford High School Charger Band also faced off on the field Friday night, giving crowds a sneak peek at what they can expect this football and competition season.

Lafayette took the field first, 85 members strong with a show filled with what band director Kelly Duncan described as “crowd favorites.”

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“That’s what we’ve been trying to do the past couple of years, to do something (band members) like and the crowd likes,” Duncan said. “There’s one more movement and a reprise. We’ve been working on it but hadn’t had much of a chance to get outside this past week because of the weather.”

The band played the first three movements of the show, with more to be added each week. Song selections included “Imagine,” by John Lennon and “Perfect,” by Ed Sheeran. Fans of the band can expect to see the fourth movement and a reprise in coming weeks, Duncan said. The fourth movement will feature an arrangement of “Glamorous,” by Fergie, followed by a reprise of “Imagine.”

One of his main goals for the band, Duncan said, is to succeed at competitions. This year, the Commodore band will travel to Northeast Mississippi Community College, Grenada and Itawamba Community College to compete.

The OHS Charger Band took the field for the latter portion of halftime festivities, with a show titled, “The Temptress.” Complete with a snake charmer-inspired soprano saxophone solo and placement of all percussion instruments in the backfield, the show is something band director Mel Morse said he hopes will appeal to the crowd and to judges at competition.

“Basically, it’s a lot of Arabian music influence. The main music source is a tune called ‘Arabesque’ by Samuel Hazo, which is a concert piece, but it has such flavor and composition you could very easily see the visuals,” Morse said. “The kids are excited. If we can find a show and music that appeals to mom and pop as much as a judge, we’ll be alright.”

The Charger band has more than 120 members, something Morse said makes accuracy and consistency key elements of the four and-a-half movement show. The band will travel to five competitions this season, the first of which will take place on Sept. 29 in Olive Branch.

When it comes to getting and keeping the audience’s attention, both Duncan and Morse agreed – it’s all about the GE, or general effect, moves. When the band plays songs people can sing along to, that draws attention in itself; when they’re adapting a concert piece for moving performance, the stakes are higher, they said.

“It’s a lot more produced, a lot more theatric nowadays. It’s one thing to march and play very well, but you need now to layer the responsibilities to where the students are asked to do more and more things,” Morse said. “We’re one of the only entities where you’re providing your own music while you’re moving to it.”