Park City High School Marching Band honored to play at Pearl Harbor
Parade commemorates 75th anniversary of attack
The Park City High School Marching Band will be one of 25 bands from across the country to perform in Hawaii to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The band’s 89 students from Park City High and Treasure Mountain Junior High schools are already in the Rainbow State. They performed at the U.S.S. Missouri on Monday.
The next performance will be Wednesday, Dec. 7, during a commemoration parade through downtown Waikiki. The students will also play later than evening.
The final performance will be Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Polynesian Culture Center. The concerts are presented by a nonprofit called Pearl Harbor Parade, said Bret Hughes, director of percussion at Park City High School.
“The organization’s job is to organize this parade and a Memorial Day parade every year,” Hughes told The Park Record. “The staff works with a selection committee comprised of past and present military musicians.”
The committee looks at applications, YouTube channels and Facebook presence. It then vets out the different organizations that applied.
“Then they extend invitations based on merit,” Hughes said.
Putting the music program together was a nerve-wracking experience for Hughes and PCHS Director of Bands Chris Taylor, because Pearl Harbor Parade didn’t give any guidance of what to play during the performances.
“We didn’t know what we should play, but being a military honor, we wanted to play something related to the military or something patriotic,” Hughes said. “At the same time, we didn’t want to play the same stuff as the other 25 bands that were invited.”
So, Hughes and Taylor reached out to band directors from around the state who participated in the parade.
“When all was said and done, we decided to play a piece that includes arrangements of all five of the military service hymns: Marine Corp, Army, Navy, Air Force and Cost Guard,” Hughes said.
The Marching Band will also play some patriotic works that it performed at Park City High School’s Homecoming.
In addition, Fred Taylor, Taylor’s father, composed one of the patriotic works.
“He has a DMA (Doctorate of Music Arts) and is a composer and trombonist,” Hughes said. “When he found out we were going to Hawaii, he wrote a piece for the U.S.S. Utah. called the ‘U.S.S. Utah March.’”
The U.S.S. Utah was a battleship that sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“Most boats in the Navy have a piece of music and the U.S.S. Utah never did,” Hughes said “So, [Fred] wrote the piece that we’ll play on Dec. 7. It’s our hope that he will take it to the U.S. Navy and present it to them if they want it.”
The Park City Marching Band heard they were selected to play in Hawaii 15 months ago.
That gave the students, families and band teachers time to raise funds for the trip.
Although Pearl Harbor Parade takes care of nearly everything — flight reservations, hotel rooms, meals, ground transportation and equipment checks — it was up to the students and families to raise at least $1,900 per traveler to get to and back from Hawaii.
“That was the base cost,” Hughes said. “And most everyone in the program were able to do that.”
There were a handful of students who weren’t able to pay the full price.
“A couple of private donors stepped up and gave generously so these kids could go,” Hughes said.
In addition, every student who marched in the band during the summer was given a scholarship discount.
“We were able to knock a couple-hundred dollars off for these kids, thanks to the money we raised over the past year,” Hughes said.
He said the students deserved the discount because of their commitment to marching band.
“It is demanding to be a member of marching band and most of the kids gave up eight to nine weeks of their summer to be in it,” Hughes said. “They have to be in town all summer. They have to be available and they have to attend rehearsals that start at 8 a.m.”
Also, being a Park City High School Marching Band member means there is little individual satisfaction.
“From day one we teach that this is all about the group,” Hughes said. “Yes, they are individuals and we support and love them, but ultimately, the program is all about the good of the group. Every decision we make reflects that and that’s a huge emotional step these kids take so early in their lives.”
Park City High School Marching Band is open to any student who finished 8th grade.
“We have a handful of 9th graders from Treasure Mountain and the rest are from Park City High School,” Hughes explained.
The group also includes a 12-member color guard, which was introduced this year.
“Ten out of the 12 girls [in the program] aren’t officially in the band program,” Hughes said. “Some of them are dancers and past gymnast and others had an interest in participating because they had family members who were in color guard. But even though they don’t necessarily play instruments, we consider them part of the marching band.”
The invitation to perform in Hawaii is a huge honor for the Park City High School
“The current marching band program is only about 7 years old,” Hughes said. “The first year, we marched in the Park City Fourth of July parade and we had 36 kids and cheap instruments. We didn’t even have uniforms.
“So, to think in just seven years we have been asked to participate in a nationally recognized parade is amazing,” Hughes said. “And this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
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