You are likely wondering what is “The Sound & The Fury.” Perhaps William Faulkner’s 1929 novel? Or the documentary from 2000? Both are legitimate guesses. In this case, it’s the Tarleton State University Texan Marching Band, which is the only university band that will be featured in the 81st McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade on November 27th, 2014.
Tarleton State University is based out of Stephenville, Texas, which is southwest of Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas. The band will travel just over 1,000 miles to march in Chicago’s parade on Thanksgiving Day. We are honored to have them join us, and look forward to welcoming them to Chicago! I caught up Gary Westbrook, PhD and Director of The Sound & The Fury, Tarleton State University Texan Marching Band to find out more the university and the marching band.
What is Tarleton State University known for?
“Tarleton State University strives to be the number 1 student centered university in the state of Texas. The university has experienced record enrollment for 3 years in a row. Tarleton is best known for 4 areas: agriculture, nursing, criminal justice, and educating teachers.”
What is Tarleton State University band known for?
“The bands at Tarleton State University have excelled at Jazz and Concert band performance and educating music educators throughout its history. Tarleton is also known for Athletic Bands that perform well and are the keepers of the spirit and tradition on the Tarleton State University campus. The Sound & The Fury is one of the largest student organizations on the campus. The athletic bands (The Sound & The Fury, the Texan Marching Band and Foul Play, the Texan Basketball Band) are two of the most spirited organization on the campus.”
How did you hear about the McDonald's Thanksgiving?
“We first heard of the parade when we were invited to participate in April of 2014.”
What made you decide to take the Tarleton State University band to Chicago for the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade?
“This was too good an opportunity for The Sound & The Fury and for Tarleton State University to pass up. We have a number of alumni in the Chicago area and the opportunity to expand our reach nationally was great incentive, too.”
How many band members will be along for the trip? Is this the marching band? Jazz band? What instruments will be featured?
“The 2014 version of The Sound & The Fury, the Texan Marching band will be the organization marching in this year’s parade. This year’s version of the band is the second largest in the university’s history, as far as we can determine. The Sound & The Fury is made up of 157 members plus one drumline instructor and one director; featuring 3 drum majors, a feature twirler, color guard, woodwinds, brass and percussion. 135 of these members will make the trip to Chicago to march in the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”
How is the trip to Chicago being funded?
“The Sound & The Fury’s trip is being funded a number of ways. Each marching band member is responsible for a portion of the trip. To help defray the cost for the students the following sources of funding have contributed: Tarleton State University President’s Council, Tarleton State University Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs, Tarleton State University Dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, ULTRA Club, Tarleton State University Division of Student Life, Tarleton State University Bands and the Ellis County Friends of Tarleton.”
What other parades/venues has the Tarleton State University played at before?
“The Sound & The Fury, the Tarleton State University Texan Marching Band has twice marched in the London New Year’s Day Parade, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ireland, The Texas State Fair Parade and Starlight Parade at the Texas State Fair and at the Dallas Children’s Medical Center Holiday Parade, just to name a few.”
Will this be the band’s first trip to Chicago to play in the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade?
“Yes. We are so excited to participate in this parade and to serve our university in this way.”
What has the band been doing to practice for the upcoming parade?“We have prepared the music for this parade for a while now, and this past week we took advantage of a November cold front in Texas to acclimate ourselves to marching in the cold. This is something that is rare for Texas bands.”
Speaking of cold…the forecast in Chicago for Thanksgiving will likely be chilly. Does the band need to make any special preparations to deal with the cold?
“Yes. I am not originally from Texas, and a few of our members are not either. So we will have to teach the band how to dress in layers.”
What kind of music will the band be playing on parade day? Anything I might recognize?“We will be playing an arrangement of David Foster’s Carol of The Bells for the parade and one other song that will remind the audience where we are from. Our drumline will also have a few surprises along the way.”