Roughly 180 Dutchtown Sound band members braved the heat — as well as a few thunderstorms — during summer band camp the week of July 27 to prepare for the marching show that will support the football team and wow audiences during marching festivals this fall.
The show, “Voyage to the New World,” takes the audience on a journey featuring musical and visual contrast. It’s based on music by composer Antonín Dvorák and arranged by Steve Martin, Aaron Hines and Dan Bryan.
“We’re using the theme of taking a trip, or taking a voyage to a new world,” band director Sheily Bell said. “We’re going to start off on land and then go to sea. There’s a contemporary look of a sail at the end of one piece. We’re taking a voyage on seas, and you’re going to see rough seas and calm seas as we take our travels. We’re going to have a lot of in and outs.”
The band’s biggest event this year will be the 11th annual Dutchtown High School Marching Contest on Oct. 31. It’s something the band prepares for year-round, and band camp is an important part of that process, Bell said.
For the seasoned band director, there is a lot to consider when planning a halftime show with so many variables: choreography, musical instruction, visuals and more. The one constant, though, has been a larger band each year.
“We’ve grown,” Bell said.
Last year, the band saw a record enrollment of freshman participants. This year, the number is even bigger, reaching nearly 80. To help them integrate, Bell’s program hosts a freshman camp the week before full camp to teach marching fundamentals.
Also, she added, “We have help.”
Every year, the band hires technicians and supplementary staff with specialties such as percussion and color guard instruction to meet the demand. They assist Bell, assistant band director Daniel Modenbach and this year’s student teachers Kaia Low and Mike Breaux. They also support student drum majors Andrea Gathercole and Mitchell Porche as well as color guard captain head captain Emilee Hawkins, assistant captains Colleen Carline and Katelyn Pourciau and flag captain Hope Wilson.
Staff includes Brad Modenbach, Daniel’s brother; B.J. McGivney, Jennifer Foret, Jessica Dehart, Jonathan Boswell, Bill Barbay, band director at Prairieville Middle School; Steven Nelson, Kyle Nijoka, Matt Atkinson; and color guard teachers Amy Dupuy and Sarah Girard.
In addition, each group of instruments has a student section leader who is chosen during an early summer leadership camp. There are about 20 this year.
Daniel Modenbach said leadership camp enriches students in different ways.
“Students learn what it means to be a true leader,” he said. “They learn how to teach. They learn how to break the marching down and help anyone with trouble. They learn what service means.”
To get a preview of the Dutchtown Sound’s halftime show, stop by the school gym at 7 p.m. on Aug. 14 for a free concert.