The Ponte Vedra High School Ocean of Sound marching band is back for the 2017 season with a new, more theatrical program, a larger band and a new set of expectations following a rewarding 2016 campaign, including a first-time state tournament appearance.
Director Jermaine Reynolds, in his second year at PVHS, has his 112-member band preparing “Jack,” based on the “Jack and the Beanstalk” fairy tale.
“I’m really excited for this show,” Reynolds said. “‘Jack’ has to overcome adversity, a theme which is familiar to most people. Band members love the music, and the marching steps are more dramatic than last year, so it’s really fun.”
The music, titled “Tao Te Ching,” was written by Frank Sullivan of Tampa-based music and entertainment production company Inspire. The company creates music and drill programs for many schools around the nation. The Ocean of Sound performs three movements - an opener, a ballad and a closer.
In addition to the music, this year’s show will showcase several props, a new feature for PVHS.
“We’ve had small props in the past, but this year’s pieces are fantastic,” Reynolds said. “Our parent volunteers have created some very substantial props. We have four different beanstalk prisms, one long green beanstalk tarp, a staircase and a cloud prop that our young Jack appears to fall through.”
The Ocean of Sound consists of 102 musicians, 10 Color Guard members and one very special “Jack.” At 4-foot-6, Elie Hill, a fourth-grader at Palm Valley/Ponte Vedra Rawlings Elementary School, is featured as Jack, the mascot of the show. Jack is being chased by the elusive giant, creating suspense. Elie is the younger cousin of band member Avi Wolf, a junior mellophone player.
Reynolds has been pleased with the effort put forth by everyone involved with the show.
“We have a great team of professionals working with the students,” he said. “Each section has its own tech leader, and everyone has been working on the program since June, when we had band minicamp. The students have shown incredible dedication. Captain Ashley Rickman, together with sibling drum majors Ryker Jett and Riley Jett, have done a great job pulling everyone together. We lost 13 seniors to graduation, but the freshmen are doing great and the upperclassmen have raised their game learning the new program. Young Jack also has loved being part of the show, and he’s doing a great job.”
Rickman, senior alto saxophone player, is impressed with this year’s program.
“The band loves both the music and the drill this year,” she said. “The music is challenging enough that it’s fun to play and the drill is well written. It’s an amazing feeling to have a show that we’re proud to perform.”
The 10-member color guard is in full costume for the show, dressed as the leaves of the stalk. They intricately wave green flags, representing the vines of the beanstalk and, during the ballad, they utilize golden flags, intimating a harp playing music.
The band has been working hard to integrate all the elements of the show.
“We’re a team in everything we do,” Rickman said. “For example, when we do our warm-up run for practice, we run in two organized lines because if we can’t keep those lines together while we’re running, we’re not going to be able to keep them in sync on the field. Marching band isn’t about individual people, it’s about an entire group working together to achieve success.”
The Ocean of Sound has been performing at PVHS football games and will be participating in three competitions this year. In mid-November, the band will be heading to the state tournament in Tampa, once again performing in the Tropicana Dome.
“Last year, State gave us a taste of what we could achieve; it showed us how much potential we have and what we should be aiming for as a band,” Rickman said.
To see the band perform, or support their fundraising initiatives, visit the PVHS Ocean of Sound website at pvband.com for more information.
“The band is a reflection on Ponte Vedra, and the town should be proud of its very own marching band, Reynolds said. “They’ve come a long way.”