The McMurry University marching band is about to perform internationally for the fourth time. Thirty-four band members leave Abilene on December 28th, bound for England where they’ll perform in the London New Year’s Day Parade.
On a recent evening the band gathered in the final hour of daylight for a last rehearsal before the trip. Director David Robinson reminded the group that technical details are important but the secret to making an impression is attitude.
“When are you going to have an opportunity to have this much fun?” Robinson said. Go ahead and have fun, that’s what they want.”
He encouraged the band to be cheerful, energetic and dance while playing. Clarinetist Rachel Hall said high energy will come naturally because of the unique circumstances of the performance.
“Being in a big city it’s going to be really exciting,” Hall said. “All of the energy from all of the people who live there and the parade and just New Years in general, everyone loves New Years.”
They will face a few obstacles, mostly freezing weather and jetlag. But for Hall, it’s all worth it.
"I’ve always wanted to go to London, it’s like the number one place on my list,” Hall said. “Then we got this invitation and I’ve just been so excited ever since because it’s finally like a dream come true.”
McMurry is one of two American college marching bands participating and while McMurry’s band has performed abroad before, this will be the first parade performance.
Band Director David Robinson is proud of his band’s hard work, he’s also eager for his students to experience London. Many of them have not traveled beyond the nations borders, or even state borders.
“It’s a chance for a lot of people to experience life in a different way and to have a different perspective on the world,” Robinson said.
Robinson traveled to London in June of this year in preparation for the New Year’s trip. He’s not going to explain cultural differences too much though, he plans to let students discover things on their own. He even suspects some of the people in London will be charmed by a group of West Texans.
“I grew up in Arkansas so I have a pretty distinctive accent and all except for one of our band members is from Texas and mostly from West Texas,” Robinson said. “I think not the language barrier but the accent and “Texasisms” will be pretty humorous for some folks.”
To watch the parade, stream it online at bbc.co.uk