Published Friday, January 18, 2013

Coweta musicians taking part in Inauguration Parade


Three Cowetans will be part of history as they take part in Monday’s parade for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

The three-year-old Georgia State University Marching Band was selected to perform in the parade and East Coweta High School graduates Ansley Ivey and Jillian Courson will be among the band members performing. Ivey plays the piccolo, and Courson is a member of the band’s color guard.

Newnan High graduate Chester B. Phillips is the director of athletic bands at the university.

“It’s extraordinary,” said Phillips. “We just are so excited that three years of hard work has paid off with such a high honor. Our selection is due to the students’ outstanding work and the collaborative efforts of everyone involved.”

The band began forming in 2009 prior to the start of football at Georgia State. Band officials designed uniforms, selected instruments and assembled staff to work with students as they prepared for kickoff in September 2010 at the Georgia Dome.

“We’ve been working diligently every season since then to raise our level of entertainment, energy and excellence we give to the audience,” Phillips said.

The university applied for participation by submitting video of the marching band, audio recordings, photos, a narrative about the band and its history, and letters of support to the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Letters of support written by the Georgia Congressional delegation, Governor Nathan Deal and former Ambassador Andrew Young, the namesake of the university’s School of Policy Studies. Phillips said that some 2,100 bands applied and more than 55 groups were selected.

Phillips said the GSU band will perform Georgia artist James Brown’s “Living in America.”

“It’s a really great opportunity,” said Courson, a junior. She and Ivey both graduated from East Coweta High in 2010. Courson is studying exercise science, and Ivey is a music education major. “It’s really neat. It’s been a quick turnaround,” said Ivey about the rehearsal schedule.

Phillips expressed gratitude for his own teachers and band directors especially Dr. Doug Moore and Mr. John Erdogan at Newnan High School, where he played the trumpet. “It was a special, special time for me,” he said.

The band will travel to Washington, D.C. today on four charter buses. The Inauguration Parade begins at 2:30 p.m. Monay after the inauguration ceremony and president’s luncheon. There will be time for students to sightsee while visiting the nation’s capital.

Preparing for the inaugural parade isn’t that different than preparing for other performances. There are high expectations for excellence, Phillips said.

“Our motto is ‘Entertainment through Energy and Excellence,’ and we’re going to hold to that whether we’re marching on a football field or marching down Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said.

The University is celebrating its centennial anniversary this year, and the band’s performance in D.C. seems like a fitting way to kick off the year’s festivities.

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