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The Portsmouth West Senators

The “Sensational Senators”

Portsmouth West High School’s marching band is in the middle of their summer band camp, fueled by last year’s trip to [Ohio] State and the eagerness of learning a whole new show. Mike Pierce, band director, is excited about this show and says that his team is what makes their unique shows what they are. “We have connections in Drum Corps, and the person who writes my drill judges nationally and internationally,” Pierce said.

One of Pierce’s teammates recently saw a show themed around cubes, and they brainstormed ways of using cubes and boxes on the field, while making it their own. Then, the idea of “Box Music” started to form, in which the band would create box shapes in the field and perform classical Bach pieces that have been accented with different genres of modern music. “Here at West, we never do anything straightforward; you usually either love us or you hate us,” Pierce said. “In this show, we intertwine a lot of Bach’s classical pieces with elements of today’s music and chordal systems, so it is not the Bach of 1740, but the Bach of the modern twist at West.”

West’s marching band usually incorporates giant props into their marching shows. This year’s show will use giant cubes on the field that will rotate to reveal different colors with each passing movement of their show.

“Last year, we were the second best school in the state for our sized school. This year’s group, while smaller, has a terrific attitude about things,” Pierce said. “They jumped in so hard on the first day that it was just motivating to me”

Josh Hall, senior, is drum major this year. Hall has been playing music since the sixth grade and even made a trip to Carnegie Hall, in New York City, last year to perform in the Honors Performance Series. “I figured if anyone should be drum major, it should be me,” Hall said. “Everyone knows I am the strictest person in the band. I am very passionate about band, and I want to go to school to be a band director. I love marching band. It is what I do. The music, fire and drive it creates inside of you is just amazing”

Hall said that he might eventually be interested in directing high school bands, but he is interested in directing university bands the most. “This show is pretty unique and interesting. I think we ought to do pretty well. We have small numbers, but I think we’re going to go far,” Hall said. “Also, there is a party at Owens.”

Meredith Sadler is directing color guard, as she has for years. This year, Band Booster President Becky Lovins is also stepping up and helping to assist the direction of the color guard.

Sydney Kouns, senior, has been in color guard since her freshman year of high school, prior to that, playing the clarinet. Kouns said she might look into color guard opportunities in college, but is most interested in pursuing musical theatre. “My eighth grade year, I always went to the football games to watch the color guard,” Kouns explained. “It looked like a lot of fun. I didn’t think I’d make it, but thought I’d at least try out. I started to enjoy it as I went along and I really love it now.”

Kouns has been involved in the unique shows that Pierce has produced for the past four years, but she said she was surprised by this year’s theme and music. “I was a bit surprised when I was told this year’s show was Bach, but now that I’ve heard the music, I love it,” Kouns said. “Our choreography is really great and I am excited to see where we go. I think that, because our trip to State last year, we’re a lot more dedicated and ready to go.”

Joseph PrattPortsmouth Daily Times