HHS Bands building Bobcat footprint

By Submitted , 03/4/20 12:20 PM

The Hope High School Concert Band is shown in its 2019 winter concert at Hempstead Hall in December under the direction of Hope Bands Director Julie Gladden. The Hope Public Schools bands program has some 300 students enrolled this year, and Gladden anticipates a larger program in the fall. – Ken McLemore/Hope Public Schools

HOPE – The musical footprint of the Hope Bobcats is growing.

Hope Public Schools Bands Director Julie Gladden has an ambitious spring semester outlined for the some-300 students across the bands program, beginning with hosting an all-day concert competition Feb. 29 at Hempstead Hall on the University of Arkansas-Hope campus.

Twelve bands from Hope, Fouke, Warren, Genoa, Nashville, Texarkana and DeQueen performed in an invitational competition leading to the official regional competition, again, hosted by Hope this month.

“It lets people come and try out the auditorium to see what it’s like before the big one, which we are also hosting on March 11,” Gladden said.

The official regional contest will involve 18 bands, she said.

Yerger Middle School and Hope High School bands competed in the run-up.

The growth of success for the Hope Bands program is building Gladden said. She has seven senior band students, four of whom have confirmed band scholarships, and others working on audition dates. That is seventy percent of the current senior band students with opportunities to attend college on scholarship.

“If you are a committed student, and you show that you will work hard and do what is expected of you, we can get you a band scholarship to college,” Gladden said.

The 2020 concert season comes in the wake of a successful marching season in which the Hope High School Bobcat Marching Band won a Division I rating in October to qualify for state marching competition in Little Rock, where HHS placed 12th among Class 5A programs statewide.

Hope’s contest bands will perform in the annual spring concert, set for March 19.

“And, then, we are going to do another concert for the other bands; so, we are dividing it up with the beginning and intermediate bands and a percussion studio concert that night,” Gladden said.

That concert is set for April 21, she said.

With 300 students in the bands program, Gladden said event planning becomes a spread-sheet sort of exercise for the three district band directors. She is contemplating a late spring concert to integrate new high school musicians into the program.

“I haven’t made my mind up, yet, on that one,” Gladden admits.

It’s a lot to consider as the bands program continues to grow.

“Once we get back from spring break, we go into solo and ensemble season,” Gladden said. “This year it is required; and, for all of the students we are going to have performances during the class period as a recital.”

The recitals will be open to band parents, and a schedule will be announced through the bands program.

The solo-ensemble competitions will be divided into three groups this year.

“We will take the high school and advanced middle school students Arkansas High in April,” Gladden said. “We will take the beginners and intermediate band to Redwater in May.”

Summer band camp will likely be held on an area college campus this year, Gladden said.

“That’s probably another month in the works,” she said. “It looks like late July or early August.”

Spring percussion and color guard performances are also a possibility this year.

“It just depends upon where we are,” Gladden said.

As the year winds to a close, Gladden will begin working toward developing a new marching season offering. The 2019 HHS program, “Machine” was a radical departure from previous years which earned the bands program more success this year.

Gladden is not letting up, although she is not yet discussing details about next fall.

“It’s going to be bigger; way bigger,” she hinted.