For the Spartanburg High School Marching Band, the 2018 season is going to be all about that moment when inspiration strikes.
Director of Bands John McAllister said the group’s on-field performance will channel the steampunk genre and the search for Eureka.
“It’s by far the most ambitious thing we’ve done,” McAllister said. “Lots of people are going to have to pull in the same direction to bring all of this together, but I think the kids are going to do fine.”
McAllister, in his fourth year at Spartanburg High School, said the show is meant to tell a story about inventors and inventions. The first movement will feature voiceovers and explain the aim of the performance, highlighting all the aspects of design while unveiling visual elements.
The second movement will feature visuals and machines that don’t work quite right, McAllister said.
“It’ll channel that famous quote, 'I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work,' ” McAllister said. “It works back up to a climax, the machine won’t work, the music turns tragic and then bam, it works.”
The third movement will feature students tinkering with machines and plenty of metallic sounds and the students pull the entire performance - and the machine - together.
McAllister said the school’s summer band camp - hindered at points by rain and lightning that delayed practice sessions - was among the best of his tenure at Spartanburg High School.
“It’s not easy for these kids,” McAllister said. “It takes a lot of soul searching because it never works quite right at the start. So you go out and work hard and at the end of the day you put together what you’ve done, and bit by bit they come together and when it does, it’s exhilarating for everybody.”
McAllister said months of thought went into the design of this year’s performance, with an eye for what he thought both students - and competition judges - would enjoy.
“It’s about breaking down this huge idea into different parts, then breaking them down even more for each student,” McAllister said. “They each learn their role and then how to turn it into a well-oiled machine. But at the end of the day, you’re teaching one page at a time and then figuring out how to bring that all together simultaneously.”
The Viking Band's competition schedule begins Sept. 22 in Boiling Springs, with another competition performance scheduled for Oct. 27. The band will head to Washington D.C. for a performance in early November, with a Christmas parade performance scheduled for Dec. 11.