The year was 1993. I was an 11th grade band student at Georgetown High School in Georgetown, South Carolina (small town in between Myrtle Beach and Charleston) and we were preparing to compete in a mid october band competition in Orangeburg, S.C. Upon arriving at the competition, many of my band mates were buzzing with excitement because, unlike me, they knew we were to be treated to an exhibition performance by S.C. State University’s Marching 101 at the conclusion of the event. During these days The Marching 101 was God-like in the state of South Carolina. Me, being a kid from the PJ’s and all, I’d never seen a college band live at that point in my life, though I had watched hours upon hours of video tapes. This of course was well before Youtube, Facebook, and basically the internet. Lol
So here we were at the competition and we had just finished our performance as four to five charter buses rolled up behind the stadium. All the bands in the audience instantly let out a huge cheer of excitement. My band made our way to the parking lot to put our instruments and equipment on the bus then headed back to the stadium to get seated for the main event! On our way back to the stadium I noticed The Marching 101’s tuba players unloading and assembling their instruments so I decided to walk over to introduce myself as a tuba player. I don’t recall the student’s name, but I remember being impressed that he was friendly and very accomodating with, what I’m sure were, very annoying questions from a crew of lil’ high schoolers. He willingly entertained our questions until our director instructed us to return to the stadium.
When the 101 entered the field I was simply amazed. Every note the band played was mesmerizing. The sound was like that of a well tuned orchestra that had studied with jazz musicians. Every note the tubas played, I could feel them resonating up through the bleachers and into my chest. I had never heard tubas like that before. I was blown away! Then they played the song that changed my life forever… “One Last Cry” by Brian Mcknight. The arrangement was just beautiful. The entire audience was standing throughout their performance, much like a party scene, but on this particular song people were swaying back and forth in complete silence. It was a magical moment. One of the few times I’ve gotten goosebumps from a marching band arrangement. I was sold. I knew at that moment I was going to SC State University, I was going to be a band director, and I was going to strive to have a band that sounded like that one day.
Not the best quality, but this is the only copy of the ’93 Marching 101 playing this song I can find. Imagine being a junior in highschool and hearing this selection live in a small HS stadium…. Simply breathtaking.
So what’s your story? What was the moment you knew you were going to a particular university?
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