Marching band rolls out jungle-themed show
Photo by: 
Will Shoemaker

From stepping into new playing opportunities to an out-of-the-ordinary, jungle-themed show, creativity is in no short supply for the Gunnison High School (GHS) marching band this season.

The band was dealt a blow to its regular schedule of halftime performances at Friday night GHS home football games after the team’s announcement that it only would be fielding a junior varsity squad. As a result, the band will perform at a few mid-week JV games in coming weeks, in addition to the GHS Homecoming matchup Sept. 14 and a likely Western State Colorado University football game Sept. 22.

But the show itself is the 30-member band’s greatest testament to conjuring up a creative idea, gathering behind it and executing the concept in elaborate fashion.

During a “lock-in” following a GHS basketball game last winter, band members began brainstorming ideas for this year’s show. About 20 themes emerged — and the jungle concept rose to the top.

“It was close between that one and another one, and the two seniors said, ‘Hey, this is our last year. We really would like to have this jungle theme,’” band director Keith Koepsel recalled. “That was enough to sway the rest.”

One of those seniors is trumpet player Annelise Pelletier.

“We heard about the jungle theme. Schools had done it before, but we wanted to pick music that was different and wouldn’t be in every junglethemed show,” she said. “We wanted different styles of songs — variety but also some similarities.”

Songs for the show include “George of the Jungle,” “The Bare Necessities” from the movie “The Jungle Book,” “You’ll Be in My Heart” from the movie “Tarzan,” and a crowd-pleasing cover of Guns and Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle.”

First-year junior drum major Anders Harvey noted the opportunity that the theme presents.

“The jungle is inherently wild, so we can do pretty much anything storywise with that,” he said. “There’s just a lot of ways we can go, especially with the music that we chose to perform.”

And GHS is taking the theme to the max. Props for the show include trees, a canoe, a bamboo fence and waterfall that shimmers in the sunlight behind the band.

Harvey admitted that he was unsure how the season would go following the announcement that all but one Friday night football game wouldn’t occur, “but we figured that out.”

Harvey and Pelletier both are settling into leadership roles among their bandmates in preparation for a competition season that that begins Sept. 29 in Grand Junction.

“I really enjoy leading the trumpet section,” said Pelletier. “It’s really fun seeing the new marchers coming up.”

Harvey is learning to balance the fun that this year’s show brings with the discipline needed for his role at the helm of the band.

“Marching band is traditionally a militaristic kind of thing, and part of that is being a united group that performs at the highest level,” he recognized. “But at the same time we’re high school students who don’t want to be going through boot camp. Mr. Koepsel is helping me with that.”


(Will Shoemaker can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or at