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Alum composes new music for Jacksonville Marching Band, advances to area competition

JACKSONVILLE, October 22, 2013-- Growing up, Jacksonville native Preston Parker always had a great love of music. However, it was not until he began high school that he really began to explore his musical talents.

“I never would have guessed that I would end up pursuing music in college and especially composition as a career when I first started high school.  I really believe that it was through Divine Intervention that I ended up on the marching band roster for that fall, and Mr. Mike Bullock was really gracious to give me the chance to dive in and learn to play a band instrument,” Parker said.

This led Parker to pursue a degree in composition and in May of 2013, Parker graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Composition from the University of Texas at Tyler, and was granted a Graduate Assistantship to study composition with Dr. Stephen Lias at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

After hearing some of his music, Parker was approached by Jacksonville High School band director, Joey Brunson, to compose a vibrant Spanish opener and closer for their marching show entitled "España en Fuego."  “I was thrilled when Mr. Brunson came to me about wanting to collaborate for this fall.  The Jacksonville Band program holds a special place in my heart since I was once a member, and that, in itself, made me want to write for the band even more,” said Parker.

Brunson said, “The idea came from wanting students to be set apart from all other students in the area.  After watching and listening to traditional American marches, I thought that the Spanish pasa doble was much more exciting and moving and that a Spanish fanfare would be the perfect thing to set JISD apart from everyone else.”

Band senior Jacob Norris said, “We knew we had improved and wanted to continue and set the tone for years to come.  No other bands perform shows like we do and it could change the way military bands in our area march. The season has been a blast and the hours we have put in are reflected in our show, but also in the grass at Mauldin Field.”

“It is great to get to write for a specific group because, by talking with the band director, you can find out their strength and weaknesses so the music is tailored fit to the ensemble, and for these pieces especially, I had to create something that fit well with the Spanish marches. They needed to have a very strong Spanish influence, but I also felt really adamantly about implementing some modern compositional techniques like the band marching in one time signature, while really playing in a much faster, and much more syncopated, time instead,” said Parker.

Senior Drum Major, Brittney Baxter said, “The theme for our show this year, Espana en Fuego, or Spain on Fire, is a bit different than what we have done in the past. It has challenged us as musicians and inspired us to open our minds to all the endless possibilities the world of music has to offer.

The pieces contain much of the same musical references and act as ‘bookends’ compositions to the traditional marches in the middle of the show. “I knew that I wanted to bring back a lot of the material from the opening section into the closer from very early on in the process.  This helps the audience to connect with themes they have heard before, but when the music returns, things are embellished, adding interest for the performers as well as the audience,” Parker said.

Sophomore, Bryan DeLaRosa said, “The show was well thought out and planned by talented people. Making the whole show based on just Spanish marches really makes it feel as if you were in Spain and watching a bull fight!”

“The music is absolutely fantastic – I know a lot of famous composers and arrangers and I have had numerous band directors ask me who wrote the music. Everyone loves it and says it is as good as any of the top composers out there,” Brunson said about Parker’s composition.

“I have really enjoyed getting to work with the Jacksonville Directors and students and want to thank them for allowing me this opportunity to write for them.  It has truly been a great experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat,” said Parker.

The band competed on Saturday, October 19, with 43 other districts from Region 7 and earned a 1st division rating and will now advance to Area C Marching Competition in Mesquite, TX, at Mesquite Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 26.  Parker’s works will be performed at the area level competition and during Jacksonville half-time shows for the remainder of the season.

Baxter said, “Working as ONE this year, the members of JFIB and its directors have put together an incredible show. Through hard work, dedication, passion, and many hours of practice we are proud to say that we scored a 1st division at UIL marching contest in Longview this past Saturday. We are so excited to perform at Area marching contest next Saturday in Mesquite, Texas. As head drum major, I can't express the pride I feel leading this band onto the field and seeing them play from their hearts and march with PRIDE!”

Brunson was very proud of the JISD band students for their accomplishment.  He was excited to see the students get the highest rating possible saying, “they don’t compete or perform any differently or better at the competition events than they do on every rehearsal or at each Friday night game. I don’t have to tell them to give their best performance, because they give it all 100% every single time.”

DeLaRosa said, “The 2013 JFIB season has probably been one of my most memorable years in the Jacksonville Fightin’ Indian Band. Receiving a 1 at UIL was well earned with countless hours of practice, repetition, and the drive for perfection. A new facility just for the band at the High School, and the direction of a dedicated and hardworking band staff from the Nichols campus forward, all add up to even greater seasons ahead of us.”


Photo: JFIB seniors celebrate their UIL Div 1 win with JISD Band Director Joey Brunson

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