Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

UF marching band heads to London to perform at Olympics

About 200 musicians — with 21 drums, 37 trumpets and 20 saxophones, to name a few instruments — leave next week.

Photo from the University of Florida

About 200 musicians — with 21 drums, 37 trumpets and 20 saxophones, to name a few instruments — leave next week.

Shannon Williams knew her membership in the University of Florida marching band would take her places.

She never expected this.

Williams, a 19-year-old St. Petersburg High School graduate who just finished her freshman year at UF, is one of more than 200 Gator Marching Band students heading to London next week to perform at the 2012 Olympic Games. UF is the only college marching band in the United States to do so.

"This is my first time going out of the country, so it'll be a new experience for me," said Williams, who plays the baritone. "Also, we're making history. That will definitely be the best experience."

Beginning on Tuesday, the band will perform at several London locations, including the preshow for opening ceremonies and the Parade of Nations at Victoria Park. The tour is slated to end with performances for U.S., Olympic and other high-ranking officials.

There apparently are more high-profile performances in the works, but UF says they remain confidential. The students return to the United States on July 31.

Band director Jay Watkins said he first learned of the possibility of performing at the Games last year. Olympics organizers asked if UF would be interested, and, of course, the answer was yes.

From there, the band submitted three portfolios of performance videos, repertoire lists and a list of every place the group has performed.

The official invite came last fall.

"It's certainly a huge honor just to be in the conversation," Watkins said. "We've built a fairly good reputation at UF and in the United States, but to have an international reputation like this . . . it says a lot about the students and the program."

UF Foundation funds are providing $100,000 for the trip, which is about 10 percent of the total cost. The students are covering the rest, each paying $4,000.

Unfortunately, Watkins said, the cost kept many students home. Still, with 200 students able to make it, UF will have a big impact.

It means 21 drums, 37 trumpets, 20 saxophones, 15 tubas and 23 clarinets, plus ribbon twirlers and a color guard.

Everybody, Watkins said, has been "rehearsing like crazy."

The set list includes almost 50 songs, ranging from classic Americana to British rock and pop music. The last big practice session is Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in Gainesville.

The next morning, London calls.

Kim Wilmath can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3337.

Want to watch the UF band in action? Live updates will be posted on the UFGatorBand Facebook page and Twitter account @UFGatorBand.

UF marching band heads to London to perform at Olympics 07/20/12 [Last modified: Saturday, July 21, 2012 4:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  2. Mother's testimony about toddler's death brings judge to tears

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Nayashia Williams woke up early on May 7, 2014, to the sound of her daughter calling for her. It was the last time the young mother's mornings would begin with a summons from Myla Presley, who couldn't yet climb over the mesh fencing around the playpen she used as a bed.

    Deandre Gilmore looks towards the gallery Tuesday in a Tampa courtroom. Gilmore is accused of killing the 19 month-old daughter of his girlfriend in 2014. He said the child fell while he was giving her a bath. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Speakers: Getting tough can't be only response to teen car thefts

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Bob Dillinger remembers coming to Pinellas County as a legal intern in 1975. There were five major poverty zones in St. Petersburg.

    Wengay Newton, Florida House of Representatives (in front, in center), talks as a panelist to a packed room during a community forum on "Reclaiming our Youth: Is Juvenile Justice a Reality?" at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum in St. Petersburg Wednesday evening (10/17/17). The event was presented by the Fred G. Minnis, Sr. Bar Association. Community leaders discussed the ongoing auto theft epidemic among Pinellas youth.
  4. Internal White House documents allege manufacturing decline increases abortions, infertility and spousal abuse

    Politics

    White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed last month when a top adviser to President Donald Trump circulated a two-page document that alleged a weakened manufacturing sector leads to an increase in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce and infertility, two people familiar with the matter told the …

  5. Black entrepreneur says city stiffing him on project after he endorsed Rick Baker

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — A prominent African-American resident says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S.