Tuesday, July 19, 2011
In January 2011, SC State’s Marching 101 band dominated the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, wowing thousands of spectators during the Honda Battle of the Bands competition, so much in fact that the Marching 101 was the number one Twitter trending topic of the evening. Their dynamic performance drastically enhanced the image of SC State University and its music program throughout the Southeast. Three months later, SC State’s wind ensemble completed a three city performance tour in Charleston, Columbia and Orangeburg, engrossing residents with sounds of popular jazz and classical music.
Prior to these impressive events, in 2009, SC State University was named a Conn-Selmer School, which supports the short and long-term growth of music performance and education, and increases the University’s national and international profile as a music school. Through this program, SC State University has positioned itself to recruit more high-quality students, obtain more grants and secure a long-term position as a leader in music and music education.
These recent successes have been phenomenal and serve as a reminder for many that SC State’s music program is one of the top in the country. As a result, the University is anticipating its largest number of incoming freshmen interested in becoming a part of the music program since 2004. With more students comes the need for more support.
“In looking at how the economy was and understanding how there are pay and budget cuts for the school, we could see and feel the trickledown effect. Because of that we felt, it was time to really look at avenues to get more people involved in the University band program and for funding opportunities,” says Marcellus Pitts, president of the Bands Program Activity Chapter (BPAC).
Pitts, an SC State alumnus and former member of the Marching 101, pep and jazz bands and wind ensemble, is one of many determined to heighten support of the music program. This will be accomplished through the reactivation of BPAC, which helps to develop and maintain the spirit of SC State’s music program through scholarship assistance and career development for students. “We are going to act as an aid in helping provide encouragement and empowerment for students and to work with them as they would like to become part of South Carolina State’s family, especially as it relates to the music program.”
Although there are current organizations in place that assist specific music programs such as the Marching 101 Band, for example, Pitts says BPAC strives to create sustainable relationships while focusing on meeting the needs of all music programs. “BPAC is inclusive and will seek support from parents, alumni, friends and supporters versus one entity or group within the music program,” notes Pitts. “The band would often reach out to the National Alumni Association and its chapters from time to time for support when specific needs would arise, but now with the reactivation of BPAC, a chapter of the alumni association, there is a specific organization that will support the needs of the band.”
SC State’s award-winning director of Bands, Eddie Ellis, who holds such prestigious awards as the Palmetto Patriot for commitment to public service within the state of South Carolina and the Orangeburg community, says he is most grateful for the BPAC organization and the support it provides.
The band program is in critical need of scholarships not only to attract, but retain top music students,” says Ellis. “Music and band programs have become very competitive as the most talented high school seniors not only select a place to study, but select a college that develops their musical creativity and has the resources necessary to supply these opportunities,” he adds. “With this fact, financial aid assistance is very important. I sincerely support the BPAC Organization and many thanks go out to Mr. Marcellus Pitts for his efforts to reorganize the group.”
With a mission of commitment and a passion to be instrumental, BPAC members have already begun to show their support. During the Honda Battle of the bands event, they assisted the Atlanta Alumni Chapter by providing meals and activities for students. BPAC also regularly assists the Charleston Alumni Chapter during various band performances at local high schools. “We are developing relationships, funding and fellowship,” shares Pitts. “We have people who have never participated in any chapter type of activity at South Carolina State that are now coming on board because of their overall interest in the band program.”
During the fall semester, Pitts and other BPAC members will continue their patronage through various activities and initiatives, beginning with freshmen move-in day. “We want to welcome students and their parents and share with them about who we are, what’s going on and information on supporting and helping the program. We will also be here the following week to welcome upper classmen. Pitts also says they will have a presence at each home football game to allow people to find out more about the University bands, BPAC and how others can get involved. “We are going to focus on major events that are going to bring yield and support to the music program. We are going to help take some of the financial pressure off of the school, which will in turn help the program grow,” says Pitts.
In order to become a member of BPAC, Pitts says there is only one thing an individual must possess, “a desiring heart. BPAC includes people who have been a part of the Marching 101, anyone who has been a part of the University band system, supporters and friends of the University. We are open across the board. We welcome those who can actually appreciate the art of music itself,” says Pitts.
As for the music program, Ellis says, “We will continue to entertain the masses in all facets of the band program, jazz, concert and marching; we will continue to bring smiles on people’s faces as they witness in person the famous 101; we will train future music educators to carry on band traditions of old while establishing new ones, but most of all we will make the SC State family proud of the University via its magnificent music program, now and in the future.”
For more information on how you can get involved with BPAC, contact Marcellus Pitts at 404-272-3817, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.