Wilberforce marching ‘Hounds of Sound’ to play in Reds Opening Day parade

The university marching band, revived last year, has 147 members and played Mardi Gras in New Orleans

WILBERFORCE — Less than a year after its formation, the Wilberforce University marching band is bringing its high-stepping, horn-swinging showmanship to the Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Day Parade on Thursday.

The bombastic tunes of the “Hounds of Sound” begin at noon Thursday on the Race Street side of Findlay Market in Cincinnati.

The nation’s oldest private Historically Black College and University is in its first ever marching band season, and is already a whopping 147 members strong.

Wilberforce has 454 students currently enrolled.

The band performed in the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans last month, with drum majors Jordan Harris, Joni Bargaineer and Tayshawn Gaines helming the charge.

“We’ve been preparing for the parade since we got back (from New Orleans),” said snare drum player Seth Harris. “Getting some good practice in, some good runs, running through the parade tunes we’re going to play.”

The Hounds of Sound keep a rigorous practice schedule, Harris said. He and several of his bandmates performing Thursday graduated from Trotwood-Madison High School, and several other band members are Cincinnati natives.

“Some days we get out here at 9 o’clock, and we won’t get out of here until 10, 12 at night. It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of sweat,” Harris said.

Director of Instrumental Music Virgil Goodwine revived the music program in July last year. Previously the band director at Oak Park High School near Detroit, Goodwine sent messages to students he had taught or was currently teaching, asking if they wanted to help build the band at Wilberforce from the ground up.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

“I reached out to those current freshmen and sophomores that weren’t too far in their major yet and just asked, ‘Hey, I got an opportunity,’ ” Goodwine said. “The amount of students that answered the call was actually, honestly, shocking to me.”

“Seeing so many students turn in their scholarship forms, students showing up on day one, it’s like, ‘Whoa, this is really going to be something,’ ” he said.

The last time Wilberforce had a band program of any kind was nearly a hundred years ago, when the university had a concert band in the 1930s, pre-World War II. The Hounds of Sound’s opening season pays tribute to that band, Goodwine said.

“The traditions and everything, everything we’re doing here, we’re starting,” he said. “When we all got together and started to create this culture that the students buy in and believe in themselves, we can do something that’s never been done.”

Wilberforce is the only marching band from the Dayton area participating in the Reds parade this year. The Opening Day Parade runs the standard 1.4 mile route, beginning at Findlay Market and moving through Race to 5th Street, turning east on 5th and will end at the Taft Theater at 317 East 5th St.

The Cincinnati Reds open their 2023 baseball season at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates at 4:10 p.m. Thursday.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

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