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Performing Across The Pond

A look back at The Department of Performing Arts and Technology's trip to Great Britain, including a recap of each performance by the traveling members of the marching band and wind ensemble.

A student drum major leads their marching band section through a performance in front of a European castle.
The Power Sound of the South® performs in front of Cardiff Castle in Wales, England—photo courtesy of Dan Jahn.

NC State University’s Power Sound of the South and NC State Wind Ensemble are no strangers to travel. In past years, the marching band has performed in Ireland, Spain and France, while the wind ensemble has traveled to Australia and Italy. In May 2023, the Department of Performing Arts and Technology added another stamp to its passport as the two ensembles traveled to Great Britain for three exciting performances.

Cardiff Castle ︱ Cardiff, Wales

Assistant director of bands Mark Whitfield (center left), and director of bands, Paul Garcia (center right) pose for a photo with the NC State marching band after a performance in front of Cardiff Castle in Wales—photo courtesy of Dan Jahn.

Starting at Cardiff Castle in Wales, the marching band performed with the neo-gothic-style castle as their backdrop. Their nearly 45-minute set included NC State songs and cheers, popular sing-alongs and marching band show music from their 2022-2022 season. With over 200 student-performers, The Power Sound of the South drew curious audiences as they continued to play.

“UK locals tend to associate the term ‘marching band’ with smaller, military marching brass bands,” explains assistant director of bands Mark Whitfield. “So the sheer numbers were astounding to many onlookers.”

Royal College of Music ︱ London, England

Dr. Paul Garcia (center) conducts Dr. Mark Whitfield (left) and the NC State Wind Ensemble through a performance of the European premiere of Frank Gulino’s Concerto No. 1: The Journey for trombone and band—photo courtesy of Dan Jahn.

The NC State Wind Ensemble presented a concert at the Royal College of Music (RCM). The ensemble played a set of four pieces—all written by American composers. Their performance featured the following:

  • La Fiesta Mexicana by Alfred Reed
  • Dusk Steven Bryant
  • Blue Shades by Frank Ticheli
  • The European premiere of Frank Gulino’s Concerto No. 1: The Journey for trombone and band

The NC State Wind Ensemble performed in The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall. The Royal College of Music venue has hosted many great names, including Richard Strauss, Jean Sibelius, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Nicola Benedetti and the late Bernard Haitink. The audience was filled with local community members, NC State family members, and Power Sound of the South members.

“The experience was incredible,” recalls a student, “I loved watching my friends and instructors perform in such a stunning concert hall.”

Brighton and Hove Albion v. Southampton Match ︱ East Sussex, England

Marching Band perform at a soccer stadium.
NC State marching band members support the Brighton Seagulls and the NC State Wolfpack as they perform at the Brighton v. Southampton Soccer Match—photo courtesy of Dan Jahn.

The Power Sound of the South performed at the Brighton and Hove Albion v. Southampton soccer match. The band kicked off the day, playing outside the Amex Stadium. Listeners were eager to hear two particular tunes.

“The atmosphere was fantastic, and the fans were very welcoming,” recalls the director of bands, Paul Garcia. “We kept getting requests for ‘Sweet Caroline’ and their team song, ‘Sussex by the Sea.'”

A small group of 50 students were then invited to go onto the field and perform a short set, pitchside. They got the crowd energized and singing along to their renditions of “Hey Jude” by The Beatles, “Hey Baby” by Bruce Channel and—of course—”Sweet Caroline” and “Sussex by the Sea.” The entire band spent the remainder of the game in the stands, enjoying a historic match for Brighton. The Seagulls’ victory over Southampton secured the team a spot in the European League for the first time in the club’s history.

Making Music and Memories

The traveling musicians had time to explore and share unique experiences. Highlights include attending a performance of Wicked on the West End and catching a glimpse of The King of England. The students also had the opportunity to visit several major historical landmarks, including Stonehenge, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye. The two ensembles returned to Raleigh, North Carolina, with new memories and a collection of Brighton and Hove Albion souvenirs.

“Every facet of the trip was designed to provide the students with opportunities to learn about culture and history in parts of the UK while sharing their musical talents along the way,” Garcia says. “The students were outstanding ambassadors for NC State throughout the trip.”

The Department of Performing Arts and Technology offers various performance opportunities for students involved in our programs. Learn more about our dance companies and music ensembles.