Marching Mustangs Orpheus

The Smoky Mountain Marching Mustangs’ show “Orpheus in the Underworld” nears the end of a recent performance. The backdrop panels show Tantalus (left), whose punishment is to be thirsty forever despite being in a pool of water, and Cerberus, guardian of the Underworld, on the right. Orpheus, played by Hannah Jutte of the color guard, becomes distraught because he realizes that he will never see his wife again.

Smoky Mountain High School’s Marching Mustangs have competed successfully in three marching competitions this fall with their show, “Orpheus in the Underworld.”

The show tells the tale of Orpheus as he looks for his dead wife, Eurydice, in the Underworld and attempts, but fails, to bring her back to the living world.

The Marching Mustangs competed in their first competition at the Land of the Sky band festival at Enka High School on Sept. 29. The 77-piece band took home third place for overall performance in the 2-A class for bands similar in size. They finished fifth out of the 17 small division bands at the event.

On Oct. 12, the band competed for the first time ever at the Chase Trojan Tournament of Bands at Chase High School in Forest City. They won the class 2-A and finished with first place music and color guard and second place percussion and drum major, and their overall score improved significantly.

This past weekend the band competed at the Science Hill competition in Johnston City, Tennessee. The Color Guard took home first place in the 2-A class, and the Marching Mustangs took home third place overall in the 2-A class. The band also finished well in the overall competition with a fourth place finish out of the 11 bands in the 1-A, 2-A and 3-A classes.

The band is under the direction of Drew Umphlett with assistance from Steve Smith, Shawn Flick, Ally Vickery, Grace Pressley, Matt Wilkinson, Brittany Cunningham, Jade Benavides and Izzy Osorio. The Marching Mustangs are conducted on the field by drum majors Becky Pechmann and Gabby Beauchemin.

“The band has worked so hard this year and is really a wonderful group of kids,” Umphlett said. “When they went undefeated in their class last year I told them that I was going to challenge them by taking them to tougher competitions. Even though we haven’t gone undefeated in our class this year, we have exceeded expectations for how well the band is doing in the overall competitions by regularly finishing ahead of much larger bands.”

The marching band will participate in its final competition Saturday at the Capital City Expo in Raleigh. They will also perform their halftime show on Nov. 8 for Senior Night.