Few images evoke the notion of civic pride like the sound of brass, woodwinds, and thumping of drums on a cool autumn evening. Whether setting the tone for Cortez’s annual Parade of Lights or entertaining the crowds at home football games, the Montezuma-Cortez Marching Panthers have been an institution in the community.
Not only a point of pride for the Four Corners, the Marching Panthers have established themselves as one of the premier small school marching bands in the state. For yet another year, M-CHS qualified for the Colorado Bandmasters Association State Championships, taking home seventh place in the 2A classification.
Under the direction of second-year director of bands William Winslow, the Panthers saw an increased involvement from the student body, growing the band to more than 70 performers – one of the largest turnouts for the program in years.
Theming their production as “Dare to Fly,” the Marching Panthers compiled their show as a celebration of the history of American aviation. Included in their performance, Winslow’s group performed “The Spirit of St. Louis,” “Amelia’s Lament,” and theme music from cinematic favorite “Top Gun.”
“We were looking for music that could tell a meaningful story and that would also be fun to perform,” said Winslow, “I think we hit both of those marks.”
The Panthers band overcame challenges throughout the season, including having to make a shift at drum major midseason. Tamryn Ashton stepped in for Alicia Brito to guide the band, and Winslow lauded both for their passion and leadership.
In their regional competition at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction, the Panthers put together a top-tier performance, finishing with an overall score of 63.85, placing them right in the mix of the top schools on the Western Slope, and landing a spot in the state championships in Pueblo.
“Most everything that we had been working up to that point cam through,” added Winslow. “We scored higher at regionals than we did in either of the previous two years.”
M-CHS followed their regional performance with a trip to the Steel City, and represented the Four Corners well. “I’d consider the season a success,” assessed the director of bands, “and so much of it has to do with the fantastic support from middle school director Andrew Campo, percussion coach Preston Sitton, color guard coach Robyn Sitton, and assistant director Chris Moraga – as well as all the wonderful parents who make up the band boosters.”
In just his second year at the helm, Winslow has big visions for the continued success of the Marching Panthers. “I’m excited for next year already,” concluded Winslow, “and where we can go from here.”