Mississippi College

MC Trumpets Bigger Football Band

September 12, 2008

For the Mississippi College Band, bigger means better as a new school year begins.

MC trotted out its biggest band in the last five years at the Backyard Brawl in Jackson to kick off the 2008 football season. There are 33 members in the MC football band today, including 28 Mississippians.

The others are five students from: Alabama, Georgia, North Dakota, and Louisiana and as far away as China.

Director of Bands Craig Young is pumped about the new season for the MC Choctaw Football Band. The group "will again be providing fun and exciting music for all home football games," he said Friday. Music from the Beatles, Beethoven, Chuck Berry and Stravinsky are all in their musical playbook.

The MC football band played in the stands last Saturday evening to pep up Choctaws fans during a disappointing 42 to 6 loss to the Millsaps Majors.

MC's talented bunch is much more than a pep band. Led by professor Young since 1999, the MC band program will perform in a number of concerts on the Clinton campus this year and in 2009.

Music lovers will get to see them perform as a 43-member Fall Concert Band, a Symphonic Winds Band and as a Jazz Ensemble, in addition to playing at Choctaws' home football games in Clinton. The MC Jazz Ensemble has a Nov. 11 concert date at Jean Pittman Williams Recital Hall and should feature Cole Porter and Paul Desmond selections. It begins at 7:30 p.m. The Fall Concert Band performs Nov. 24 at Swor Auditorium. Both concerts are free and open to the public.

Young is welcoming about ten new students to the MC football band this year, including freshman C.J. King, a tuba player who was a member of the award-winning Pearl High Pirates Marching Band.

The MC football band doesn't just attract talent from Mississippi. MC senior Jacob Long, one of the band's four trumpet players, hails from Bismark, North Dakota. He's joined by trumpet players Jeff Armstrong, an MC junior from Vicksburg, Justin Lloyd, a sophomore from Kosciusko, and Matt Weeks, a junior from Brookhaven.

MC's band history extends back about a century. There's a photograph of an MC band taken around 1910, records show. It shows an MC band consisting of two dozen men as they posed in front of Lowrey Hall on the Clinton campus.

The Choctaws football band today practices at the old Clinton Junior High rehearsal hall near the MC campus. It's been the band's home for the past 13 years. Hilltop Theater, which was Clinton's first movie theater, was acquired by the Baptist college in 1969. For years, it functioned as the college band hall.

Young succeeded former MC band director John Hanbery, who held the post from 1976 to 1999. He's leading a band that's gearing up for its first performance this football season at Robinson-Hale Stadium. MC football fans will see the band play Sept. 20 when the Choctaws face McMurry in Clinton. Kick-off is set for 6 p.m.

MC's band program is on a growth spurt after the roster for MC bands included as many as 80 members in the late 1990s. Several years ago, there were as few as 18 MC band members, Young said.

The numbers tend to fluctuate at MC. Officials note that a number of other schools in Mississippi and around the nation can offer full scholarships for band students.

With the number of band members up, Young said he's really encouraged about the organization's future at MC.

PHOTO (left to right): Jeff Armstrong, senior from Vicksburg; Jacob Long, senior Bismark, North Dakota; Justin Lloyd, sophomore from Kosciusko; and Matt Weeks, a junior from Brookhaven.

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