Buried in my Homecoming post below, I mentioned that the halftime show was worthy of its own post. As with many things, I intended to return to the subject that day or the next perhaps. Here it is much, much later and I'm only finally getting back to it.
Sewanee does not have its own marching band. It has a fine orchestra, a wonderful choir, great organists and carriloneurs, but I suppose marching band must be a little low brow. For some reason, the powers that be think Homecoming, unlike other football games, requires a marching band, so they make arrangements every year with one of the nearby high school bands to provide halftime entertainment.
During college, I can't say I paid much attention to the bands. I remember that they seemed to play Rocky Top every year, but that's about all that comes to mind.
This year, though, the high school marching band made an extra special effort to do something really entertaining. We should have been tipped off that something was up when they brought so many props onto the field. There were fake palm trees, a park bench, a miniature graveyard, several different flags, and plastic swords, as well as changes of costume. The truth is though, that the fog started rolling in just then and I was walking the kids around, so I didn't notice all of this at first.
Without announcement, the band started playing -- a few bars of the Star Spangled Banner (enough to realize what you were hearing and put your hand over your heart) and then the music swung right into Moonlight Serenade. And there were majorettes on the field swing dancing (poor girls in sleeveless dresses in the cold damp fog).
This medley was followed by another. I can't really tell you what order most things transpired in. At some point the music was quite marshal and the flag corps was fighting with flags -- half of them waving blue flags with stars while the other half swung Japanese flags and the majorettes twirled plastic swords. This was when it finally dawned on me what they were doing -- we were seeing a musical reenactment of the War in the Pacific.
After the fighting, the band played Taps and off at one end of the field one of the majorettes ceremonially kneeled weeping at the fake graveyard. This was followed by some sort of peaceful tune while the flag corps ran a circle around the field carrying white flags with doves printed on them.
You'd think that would be the end, but it wasn't. I can't remember what the final music was -- by this point the spectacle of the thing had captured my attention. Whatever rousing finale was played was accompanied by the majorettes throwing on old military jackets and raising a flag -- holding it in the stance memorialized in the Iwo Jima statue.
I think the band played well and the majorettes and flag corps certainly had their work cut out for them with all the flag and costume changes -- plus learning to swing and running all over the place. One must certainly give them credit. However, what's wrong with a few rousing tunes, a band marching around the field and (if you must) baton twirling and flag waving? Must we make everything into an elaborate spectacle?