Herd of Thunder in London

The USF marching band will perform on the global stage as part of London’s New Year’s Day Parade.


                                                                                                               Video: Candace Kaw | USF College of The Arts


By Brandi Hollis

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 12, 2012) – Students and fans might go to Raymond James Stadium to cheer for the football team, but the University of South Florida’s marching band, the Herd of Thunder (HOT), puts on a halftime show worthy of the world stage.


After an unstoppable year, they will be on the global stage when they march for London’s 27th annual New Year’s Day Parade.


This year, HOT has had the chance to perform in the opening ceremonies for the Republican National Convention and perform on the TV show Extreme Home Makeover as well as Kathy Lee and Hoda.


They will end this amazing year and begin 2013 as the Honor Band that marches in the grand finale of the London parade, which is viewed by an estimated 220 million people worldwide.


“We’re Santa Claus,” said Matthew McCutchen, associate director of bands and director of athletic bands, referring to the grand finale of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.


HOT is one of only a handful of American high schools and universities that were asked to participate in the parade, which is by invitation only, and the only major American university invited. McCutchen was contacted by the parade coordinators and invited to come with the Herd of Thunder back in the summer of 2011 by the Lord Mayor of Westminster after several other band directors recommended him and his band.


More than 100 students will be making the flight overseas after Christmas to represent USF. Danielle Batcheller, a junior majoring in music education and trombone player, said “I’m very excited to go. This is my first time out of the U.S., so this will be an experience in itself.”


Other students going on the trip are excited as well to represent the university beyond the football field. Sean Carr, a senior majoring in microbiology and a mellophone player, said, “it’ll be fun to spend some time [in London] and also represent our university. It’s always fun to throw a ‘whoo, go Bulls!’”


The Herd of Thunder will also be playing in Trafalgar Square on Dec. 30 before marching the two mile parade route through Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street, and Whitehall. During the parade they will play songs by British composers but also the USF fight song. They will end the parade with a finale of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele.


A USF alumnus that now lives in London and their spouse will carry the USF banner and seven recent USF graduates and Herd of Thunder members will also be playing with the band. Band members held extra practices and learned additional music for the performance but are confident that they have a well rehearsed routine.


“I’m more nervous about the cold,” said Christy Hobby, a senior majoring in music education with a business minor and color guard captain as well as a band captain. The prospect of the chilly air from a London winter is ensuring that the band members pack extra socks and sweaters to layer under their uniforms.


“That’s something we could not prepare for – our two extra rehearsals were in shorts and t-shirts,” McCutchen said.


During their weeklong stay they will also have free time to explore the history and culture of London. Students will have opportunities to visit Windsor Castle, the Tower of London, attend a play in the West End, and even ride the Chunnel to Paris for a day. Students will also have free time to visit museums or other London attractions. Trevor Butts, a junior majoring in music education, a trumpet player and band major, said, “I want to go to the library and see the old scores, like Holst and Beethoven, I just studied that piece so that would be awesome.”


McCutchen is excited for the audience that will be introduced to the Herd of Thunder and USF at the parade.


“Our first and foremost goal is to support this university and support athletics, that’s why we exist,” said McCutchen. “But it’s also been a very good year for us to get beyond campus and beyond Raymond James and let other people know that there are really great things happening here at USF. A wonderful thing the Herd of Thunder can do is spread the message of the university far beyond campus.”