Wildcat Band Prepares for UIL Competition


Plano Band performs during a football game at Ron Poe Stadium during halftime. (Photo by Abigail Thomas)

Abigail Thomas, Staff Writer/Photo Editor

The Wildcat Marching Band will be performing their show Vagabond, on Oct. 15 for their Pre-UIL and Oct. 22 for their UIL performances in hopes of obtaining a first division superior rating in order to qualify for the area round on Oct. 29.
“The band staff began planning for this year’s marching show, Vagabond, back in December of last year. We picked the music in February and began hashing out the details for the next few months. The students received the music over the summer and we began work on the show the first day of summer camp, Aug. 1,” Jason Lewis said.
The marching band is lead by Head Band Director Jason Lewis. This is his second year in this position and fifth year serving as a band director. He has been working with the band to make sure everything is ready for UIL.
Lewis picked this theme after he picked the music from the work Carmina Burana, by Carl Orff. It was his first priority to pick good, well-written music that excites both the students and the audience members.
“Carmina Burana was initially a set of poems and dramatic texts written by traveling gypsies dating back to the 11th-12th centuries, so picking this vagabond theme was relatively easy,” Lewis said.
The band incorporates their theme by having the color guard dress as gypsies. Lee Davis, senior and bass line captain of the drumline, and Nikko Martiano, senior and drum major, have been in band since sixth grade and both have high hopes and expectations for UIL.
“The band will be very prepared for competition,” Davis said. “This is the first year, in my experience, where we have put the whole show musically on the field the first time we performed it. We are almost done with the moving aspect and I believe it will be very good for our first competition.”
The band relies on the drum majors to be their student leaders. They help make the most of their rehearsals in order to have a successful competition and are the eyes and ears on the field for the band director.
“Our band is filled with excellent musicians and experienced marchers. However, what sets this year apart is the level of dedication, discipline, togetherness, and energy that our band has. We have a ton of people willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top, and that is a really big part of getting there,” Martiano said.
There are certain strengths and weaknesses that the band possesses when preparing for UIL. They have practiced for months so they do not have any obstacles during competition.
“The biggest obstacle for preparing for UIL is most likely the apathy and complacency that comes in the later parts of marching season. People start getting too comfortable, thinking that they do not have to try and become less committed, and that’s always a problem for every year,” Martiano said.
There are also obstacles for the band director. When dealing with over 230 kids and balancing everybody’s schedule, the band director has to be flexible in order to get the most practice time before competition. Everyone has their own unique set of situations that may come up throughout the season.
“Perhaps the biggest obstacle is ensuring that the band functions well throughout the season and stays healthy, mentally and physically,” Lewis said. “Each student is important to the success of the band, and they know that their function is completely unique and no one else on the field will do the exact same thing as another performer.”
While there are obstacles, the Wildcat Band tries their hardest when performing. They focus on their goal and accomplish what they set their minds to as shown in past UIL performances.
“The best part about UIL is watching the reaction on the kids’ faces when they are rewarded for a job well-done. It is wonderful to watch kids reach the goals they set three months prior. I always marvel at the rapid amount of growth and maturity the students experienced in just a short amount of time,” Lewis said.
There are three soloists in the show this year. The soloists have a major responsibility to memorize their parts and to perform well under pressure. This year’s flute soloists are Sally Nam and Eena Lin, and the vocal soloist is Cannon McClure.
“We are so fortunate to have an abundance of extremely talented musicians in the Plano band, and it’s always great to feature some of them,” Lewis said. “They are all at the top of the their game and doing a phenomenal job. I could not be prouder of the performance of these three soloists.”
The band is thankful to have the support of the Plano community that helps cheer them on according to Lewis. Having the support of the Plano community and hearing their cheers during performance helps boosts their spirits and makes the whole experience worthwhile.
“It is amazing to be able to enjoy the support structure that we have. We invite you all out to any of our upcoming competitions. We love the support and enthusiasm from the audience in the stands,” Lewis said.
The band will perform at pre-UIL on Oct. 15 at 12 p.m. at Wylie Stadium and at UIL on Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Clark Stadium. They will compete at area on Oct. 29 at Pennington Field in Bedford.