The Tullahoma High School Band is setting its sights in a more spooky direction for its 2019 marching season.
Band officials announced earlier this month that the show theme for 2019 would be “Danse Macabre,” and feature a blend of both popular music and well-known classical tunes from centuries past.
Music from cult Halloween classic “Hocus Pocus,” the 1993 Disney film starring Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker, will make its debut in Wilkins Stadium, as well music from Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem.”
Both musical sources evoke an eerie or spooky feeling in their listeners, which is what band directors Justin Scott and Lisa Burden were looking for.
According to Scott, this year’s show will be somewhat comparable to last year’s, but will feature more of a classical feel to it.
“It’s going to have more of that classical feel,” Scott said, “A haunted, classical feel, if you want to call it that – very Halloweenish.”
Pulling from both the classical and popular music realms ensures audiences will still hear recognizable tunes, even if they can’t put the name to the song, according to Scott.
“A lot of the melodies people will hear they’ll have heard before,” he said. “They may not be able to name them, but they’re going to go, ‘I’ve heard that melody before.’”
Burden agreed, saying the show wasn’t entirely like the band’s most recent show, “Sound of Silence.”
“It’s not going to be like, ‘Sound of Silence,’ where everyone can put their finger on it,” she said.
Also featured in this coming football season’s show will be the popular song “Once Upon A December” from the 1997 Dreamworks music musical “Anastasia.”
While this song is not necessarily spooky or evocative of a Halloween mood, Scott and Burden said it fit in well with the rest of the music.
“It fit the mood and the melodies that we were looking for,” Scott said.
Burden added the flow of the song fit the overall pace of the show they were putting together.
Rounding out the musical selections is the show’s namesake tune, “Danse Macabre,” an operatic tone poem written by French composer Camille Saint-Saens.
The song musically tells the legend of Death calling forth the skeletons of the dead to dance for him in the midnight hour on Halloween. According to the legend, the skeletons dance for Death while he plays his fiddle for them until dawn, when they return to their graves until the following Halloween.
Keeping with the theme of skeletons, Scott said the directors were thinking of utilizing skeletons for the fall show.
“We’re exploring the idea of, maybe in the ‘Danse Macabre’ section, having the guard dance with skeletons,” he said. “We think that would be kind of neat.”
Details have yet to be finalized, as the band staff takes the rest of this semester and the majority of the summer break to come up with all the pieces of the spooky puzzle.
For now, the focus is on arranging all the pieces of music to fit one cohesive story for the marching band this fall.
When asked how difficult it is to mix together classical music and marching band, Scott acknowledged there can be challenges, though he believed the students would enjoy the music.
“These pieces, I think, will go well,” he said. “They’re approachable by the kids.”
Burden agreed, saying the work Atticus Hensley, another band instructor and the fine arts coordinator for Tullahoma City Schools, had put into arranging the pieces would ensure the students could shine.
“Atticus is really smart about splicing the music,” she said.
“Atticus knows the kids so well,” Scott said. “He will arrange the music to fit their needs. That’s the thing that’s always been the bonus of having him arrange our shows. If we’ve got just a killer trumpet year, he can write trumpet parts to really show them off.”
The members of the Tullahoma Band will converge on the blacktop at Tullahoma High School this July when they attend band camp. From there, the student musicians will begin learning their music so they can put on one spooky show once football season starts.
For more information on the Tullahoma Band program, visit tullahomabands.org.
Erin McCullough may be reached at email@example.com.