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Hardin Valley Academy band takes top honors

Hardin Valley Academy’s Outdoor Performance Ensemble has begun its competition by taking top honors in the Class 4A Division two weekends in a row.

The Ensemble took first place for Color Guard and first place overall at the Karns High School Invitational Saturday, Sept. 25; and the band, drum majors and percussionists won first place in the Foothills Classic at Seymour High School Saturday, Oct. 2, where they also walked away with the title of Grand Champion in the large division.

HVA band director Keith Clupper said while the band’s program, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” is performed during football games, the show was not written for that purpose.

“We are a competitive band and we write the show to be competitive on a national level,” he added.

The program contains four movements.

Clupper said the first movement, called “Childhood Visions,” uses music called “Noisy Wheels of Joy,” a piece written especially for concert bands by composer Eric Whitaker.

The movement represents childhood.

“That’s the time of not having responsibilities … a time of innocence when everything is magical,” Clupper said.

The second movement represents relationships and uses music by Imogene Heap, called “Hide and Seek.”

“It starts to portray how, as we age, we start to pursue happiness through others; not necessarily romantic relationships, but through our friendships, family members and loved ones,” Clupper said.

The third movement becomes a bit darker and uses music from the film “Vantage Point” called “The Chase.”

“It’s called ‘The Chase Begins’ and it is about chasing after material things,” Clupper said.

It’s about how some people try to fill that hole inside, whether it is through material things, or money or addiction.

“It’s a very materialistic and industrial type sound,” he added.

The fourth movement, called “The Joy of Revelation,” reveals the epiphany of the program.

Using Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” Clupper said the piece is meant to show that true happiness is found in the journey.

“Throughout the program you hear pieces of this music but then, after the chaos of the third movement crashes in, you finally hear it come out,” Clupper said.

“We try to represent happiness not as something that you can grab on to, it’s not a destination. Throughout history, a lot of people come to the conclusion that it is really the pursuit of happiness, the journey, that we find happiness in.

“People sometimes say, ‘If I could only have that new Mercedes,’ and then when they get it, they say, ‘Now if I only had that new truck or a bigger boat or a better house.’ Or even, ‘If I could only find that one true love.’ So it’s more about the journey than the object,” he added.

The show’s finale reinforces that the journey is never really over.

“At the end, Caleb Felker, a senior baritone, runs through to the End Zone and the idea is that, even though he has had that joy of revelation moment, he is still pursuing something,” Clupper said.

For the Friday night shows, Clupper plans to add some narration to the performance to help the audience understand the show.

“We try to portray the feelings through the music and the movement, but sometimes you need a little narration in there to kind of glue it together,” he said.

The band will begin its national competitions in mid October and will be the only Knox County band to compete on the national circuit this year.

HVA will compete Saturday, Oct. 23 in the Smoky Mountain Invitational at South Doyle High School before heading to its final national Bands of America Competition Saturday, Oct. 30, in Atlanta, Ga., in the Georgia Dome.


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