“Students come to college to help open their minds, learn and experience new things,” said Todd Cranson, DMA, director of athletic bands. “The culture and music in New Orleans, especially around Mardi Gras, is unique in our country, and the opportunity to see it like we will is great. Anyone can travel down to New Orleans and go to the parade as a spectator, but it is a special opportunity to march the parade routes and see the millions of people that will line the streets.”

The band is scheduled to leave Vermillion on Feb. 8, and will showcase a symphonic band and jazz band performance at Omaha North High School in Omaha, Nebraska, before the nearly 120 students depart for New Orleans.

On Saturday, Feb. 10, The SOUND of USD will march in the Krewe of Endymion parade. The Krewe of Endymion is the largest of the Mardi Gras parades and attracts a crowd of over a million people. On Monday, Feb. 12, The SOUND of USD will march in another well-know parade, the Krewe of Orpheus.

“I am most looking forward to watching and talking with our students about the experiences they will have in New Orleans and on the trip to get there,” said Cranson. “It is a musically rich culture, and there are a surprising number of unique qualities to the people, places and music down there. It is going to be great fun sharing my connection to southern Louisiana with students and watching them learn.”

Third-year music education and vocal performance student Maleah Wright said she’s looking forward to experiencing the celebration’s culture.

“I’m most exciting about being in a place with so much music and so many cultures and people,” said Wright, drum major of the band. “I want to live in the moment more than anything. I want to enjoy what’s going on around me and just soak it all in.

“I’ve always been so thankful for the opportunities that the music department at USD has offered me, and this trip is no exception,” she continued. “I’m so grateful to have experiences like this, not only for my own enjoyment, but also for my learning and education.”

While Cranson said there’s no way to fully prepare students for the four-to-six-mile parade routes, new environments and unfathomable crowds, he feels their experiences at the university have readied them for this moment.

“We are relying heavily on the great work the students in the marching band did during the football season,” said Cranson. “To supplement that, I’ve invited everyone participating to play at pep band games before the parade, and we have one single rehearsal planned the night before we depart.

“I am confident that our students are set up for success, and I hope they enjoy this opportunity to use their musicianship to gain a truly unique experience,” he continued.

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