New director taking band in positive directionBy Lacy Hilliard
The Johnson County High School Symphonic Band performed their spring concert on Friday, April 26. Under the instruction of their new band director, Mr. Jacob Pitts and adorned in their shining new uniforms, the ‘Pride of Johnson County’ took on such classics as Ed Huckeby’s ‘Pastorale’ and also stayed with the times by performing the theme from Les Miserables.
A fifteen-year trumpet veteran and a graduate of East Tennessee State University, Jacob Pitts took the directors podium at the beginning of the 2012/2013 school year and his enthusiasm and love for his new position was as apparent as the superior level of musicianship displayed by the JCHS Band at the spring concert. In the short time Mr. Pitts has been band director, he has seemingly formulated a strong bond with each individual student and the relationship certainly translates through the music. Proving his dedication to his students, Mr. Pitts recognized each senior member of the band individually at the spring concert and though he said something positive about each graduating senior, constant themes throughout his praise were respectfulness, commitment and maturity; traits that Mr. Pitts says each member of his band shares. Discipline aside, Mr. Pitts also entertains his students with a healthy dose of humor. Exclaiming, “I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell” immediately following the performance of the percussion ensemble was just a small glimpse into the personality Mr. Pitts brings to the JCHS Band. The students are engaged and Mr. Pitts has big plans for these talented students. “This band has been through several directors within the past several years. I hope to stay here long enough to not only grow the program but to also provide a solid foundation” said Mr. Pitts of his aspirations.
It’s clear that JCHS Band program works to challenge its students and the musical selection for the spring concert certainly didn’t lack in diversity. First to perform at the concert was the JCHS Percussion ensemble (made up of both percussion and wind students) under the direction of Instructor Adam Berry. The ensemble opened with Katie’s Bossa; a bossanova style cadence that immediately set the groove. Their closing performance of Jeremy Kane’s ‘Escape from Pirate Cove’ displayed musicianship superior to their years and provided an excellent transition for the 7th Grade Band.
As though leading the high school students through marching band, concert band and symphonic band weren’t enough; Mr. Pitts also directs the seventh and eighth grand bands. Part of Mr. Pitts love for his job is “Seeing the first time a student really sees and hears his or her instrument. There’s nothing better than that.” Witnessing students that have only been playing their instruments for a few months to a year take on Edmondson’s ‘Winchester March’ or Williams’ ‘Centurion’ was an amazing testament to their devotion. The members of the Johnson County 7th grade band are as follows; on flute: Makayla Bilodean, Amberli Clinebell and Makayla Fritts. On clarinet were Laura Austin, Beth Coffey, Mackenzie Cooke, Chloe Jones and Josie Ward. The saxophone section was made up of Maesen Green and Saira Hernandez. On trumpet was Andrew Robinson, baritone, Kiya Moore and percussion, Macen Busic and Gavin Cook. The 8th Grade Band was made up of Robbi Howell, Isabel Najera, Courtney Stout and Corina Ward on flute. The clarinet section included Abidelle Beaty, Cora Hayworth, Stacey Ward and Courtney Wilson. Justin Hamilton played oboe and Christian Dugger, Kitaira Magin and Jeffery Rife were on saxophone. Trumpet players were Brittany Church and Stephen Rosa; Brandon Wilkerson was on French horn. Trombone players included Jamie Campbell and Caleb Reece and the percussion section included Ronnie McDaniel, Chase McGlamery, Abby Miller and Tory Williams.
The Johnson County High School Symphonic Band gave an emotionally driven performance and displayed what can be accomplished when honoring the military based fundamentals of band through discipline, restraint and technical musicianship. The moving lines of each section created a wave of pleasing tones and an overall melodic drama was achieved through excellence in dynamics and intonation.
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