KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The University of Tennessee’s Pride of the Southland Band is heading across the pond to headline London Band Week.
280 Pride of the Southland band members are getting ready to perform as a headlining ensemble at London Band Week. The trip has been a year in the works with tremendous logistics efforts to coordinate for all the band members and their instruments.
“So, the logistics have been crazy. We’re going out on five different flights because of costs to try to keep the cost down to the students. We’re flying out of Charlotte, Atlanta, Knoxville and Nashville and just hoping to land in the same general vicinity at the same general time,” said Michael Stewart, Professor of Bands.
The band raised more than $40,000 from a crowdfunding effort to help students pay for the $3,500 per student price tag. Now, with rehearsals underway, members of the band are excited to show off their skills in England.
“It’s really an adventure. It’s a way for us to spread our wings, to get out there, to show the entire world what the Pride of the Southland Marching can do,” said Julia Boylan, head drum major. “It’s really a rare opportunity for us to get all the way over to London. So just really immersing ourselves in the culture. That’s what I’m going for.”
“It’s a really good opportunity, especially for the majorettes. London does not have majorettes and color guard, also. So, it’s going to be a completely new experience for them as well as for us. We’re taking game day there. We’re even going to do a salute to the hill run, which is exactly what we do on game day here at Rocky Top,” said Abi Long, head majorette.
Stewart said that it’s a worthwhile effort to feature UT and the band program on the international stage while showing off their American flair.
“They’ve asked us as much as we can let’s get the color guard involved, the majorettes involved so that they have sort of that flair, that American pageantry that we have,” said Stewart.
They will be performing a wide range of music during their London Band Week appearances.
“A lot of the music that we’re doing are things that Vol fans have known for years. We’re doing three different concerts there and two of those are going to be very traditional and in terms of UT music and formations, things like that. The other one, the London Tattoo, is a mass band performance and that’s the performance where we have to rehearse new music that the bands never played before,” said Stewart.
Overall the band is excited to perform and show the UT spirit to London.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for our students. It’s, you know, it’s we’re going to be performing for quite a few fans over there. There’s a lot of alumni in England that are going to be joining us and I think they’ll like the different genres of music that are going to be performed there,” said Stewart.
“I’ve never really been out of the South. So going all the way overseas is going to be a completely new experience and just immersing ourselves in that is going to be really incredible,” said Long.
London Band Week is an invitation-only event. Bands invited are chosen based on two primary criteria: their core values and principles, and their passion for performance excellence.