Just one week into the school year, Madison Southern High School’s marching band is preparing for their first performance under the Friday night lights during their football team’s game against Garrard County.

This will prove a special experience for several fresh faces that make up the school’s marching band following a summer that celebrated one of the band’s largest graduating classes.

“We are experiencing growth. And we have kids stepping up into new leadership roles,” said David Ratliff, band director.

And step in they have. The high school’s band is made up of about 90 students who play in symphonic band, pep band, jazz band, competitive indoor color guard and percussion ensemble — 75 of those students are in marching band. According to Ratliff, a third to a fourth are new members.

But that’s a good thing, according to Ratliff, who bragged on the county’s middle school band directors and their efforts in preparing students for a musical high school experience.

“We don’t have to spend a lot of time catching (the students up),” Ratliff said, noting that it’s fun to see energy from the younger students rub off on the older ones. “New life comes into the band every year.”

Ratliff, who is in his 12th year at Southern and his 19th in the county, said every year, the band has a unique personality as a result of the students who make up its parts — much of it influenced by the senior class members, such as Drum Major London Horn.

Horn added on by saying the younger students bring a lot of their own personality.

The enthusiastic drum major said that on Friday many band members would be chanting “Game Day” throughout the afternoon before the game kicks off in the evening hours and the newest among them can experience marching on the field’s “turf” for the first time.

Competition season will kick off for Southern's band on Saturday, Sept. 9, at Bourbon County High School. This year, Southern will host the Eagle Classic, a Southern Regional season Kentucky Music Educators Association marching band competition on Sept. 16, for the second year, as well as a KMEA Quarterfinal on Oct. 21, for the ninth consecutive year.

And while the competitions are fun, band is all about the music. And this year, Madison Southern is hoping for a royal performance of their show entitled “Crowned.”

“It’s loosely tied to the theme of royalty in general,” Ratliff explained.

Much of the selections come from popular music, such as Bohemian Rhapsody, the theme from Game of Thrones, Kiss from a Rose by Seal and Who Wants to Live Forever by Queen. An oversized thrown serves as a central backdrop and dramatic heart for the performance. What Ratliff says isn’t really a story, but a loose interpretation with various groups attempting to capture the thrown, and ultimately, one standing victorious.

Ratliff noted the students enjoy the music a bit more than years past, because it's songs they are familiar with and they can connect with it. Powell County Middle School Band Director Mark Gevedon and Model Laboratory Band Director Eric Sokolowski helped Ratliff arrange the show.

Last year, Southern began fundraising for new band uniforms, which will cost approximately $30,000 to $40,000, Ratliff told The Register last year. Those that wish to donate can do so on the band’s webpage.

For more information on the the band, visit MadisonSouthernBand.org or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Reach Critley King at 624-6623; follow her on Twitter @critleyking.

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