West Broward Performance Ensemble presents this year’s show indoors

by Sarah Perez

VIRTUAL SYMPHONY: The 2020 marching show is set in a drive-in movie theater from the 1950s, with an upbeat and jazz-like score. The West Broward Performance Ensemble is continuing to develop and rehearse the show to perform in the gym. Picture by Sarah Perez

For the past twelve years, the West Broward Performance Ensemble has been able to produce a marching show at a variety of venues like football games and state-wide competitions. However, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many adaptations have been developed in order to transition to the new restrictions needed. The production will be moved to the indoor gym, instead of being performed on a football field.

The show is established during the 1950s in a drive-in movie theater. It will feature musical scores from the legendary Frank Sinatra, Meatloaf and Dave Brubeck. The music throughout the show includes blues-like jazz rhythms and uses various sound clips of drive-in announcers to produce an immersive feel. Although many details are not completely developed yet, the show is planned to be performed in the gymnasium at West Broward seven weeks after in-person rehearsals are allowed. 

“It’s the differences of this year’s show compared to previous years that make it more interesting,” said band director Dean Calmer. “There are all kinds of things that we can do that we normally cannot do on a marching field.”

In March, the early development for the 2020 marching show was completely changed due to the pandemic. The uncertainty of the situation as a whole led to the construction of the show filling with constant change and alteration. 

“After we started to design the show, we realized things were starting to change because of COVID,” said assistant director Bill Muter. “We’ve changed the product quite a few times, and we’ve actually developed a completely different idea than what we initially thought of.” 

The relocation of the marching show has eliminated the usual constraints drawn around it. Usually, there were strict limitations to specific props and time constraints. This complete creative control of the production has made way to new ideas and implementations for the staff.

“It’s going be cool to produce the show our own way because we’ve never been able to do that before,” said junior and mellophone section leader Sofia Sutter. “We’ve never been able to do something at our school as a performance ensemble, so that’s going to be really cool to pull off in an indoor show.”

The development of the theme was vaguely derived from last year’s winter guard show, Pinball Wizard,  which was abruptly cut to an end. The show was based on the classic song “Pinball Wizard” by Elton John, incorporating similar rock genres and themes throughout the show.  This year’s show pays homage to Pinball Wizard by reusing similar ideas from it. Nevertheless, the concept of the show is still completely new.

“We wanted to be able to give them something that feels like paying homage to what [the winter guard] was doing,” Muter said. “We wanted to give them another chance to kind of finish out the ride.”

This year’s introduction to e-learning paved way for different teaching techniques among the staff. This includes the manufacturing of many play-along tracks whereas students can warm up their instruments with a recording. 

  “When you’re online, you can’t focus on ensemble concepts, so we focus on the individual,” Muter said. “The stronger we’re able to build the individual basis, the stronger the ensemble is.” 

E-learning has also emphasized the individual element of developing a marching show. Rehearsing music online and at home have made students learn to focus on developing their individual skills, whether that be music comprehension or marching technique.

“We work from micro to macro. First, we work on the fine details, then we move into bigger groups,” Calmer said. “We learn apart, we all work on all our parts and then we play it as a section. And then we put the section with the group.”

The uncertainty of this situation means that there is no planned date for when the show is being presented. Although the show is still in its developmental stages, the new setting and circumstance have inspired enthusiasm among the program’s members.

“We have never had anything like what we are planning right now, so that opens a lot of possibilities for our show,” said junior and drum major Isaak Gutierrez. “I’m really excited about how the end product is going to turn out.”

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