At the Meyerson Symphony Center yesterday — July 4th — the Dallas Winds (formerly Dallas Wind Symphony) reportedly set a new record of many, many piccolos simultaneously playing John Philip Sousa’s ‘Stars and Stripes Forever.’
‘Piccolos & Patriots: A Star-Spangled Spectacular!’ was one of the special events the group planned during this, its 30th year. The massed piccolo army played in the onstage seating ranks behind the regular orchestra section at the Meyerson — where the Dallas Chorus sometimes stands or where audience members sometimes sit.
The high-pitched results, needless to say, can sound like a happy horde of Angry Birds, but judging from the video and comments posted on the Dallas Winds Facebook page, the piccolo participants were mighty pleased.
All that band practice finally paid off.
Kim Campbell, founder and executive director of Dallas Winds, explains that the group applied to the Guinness Book of World Records for what had been the previous record for the largest number of piccolos playing ‘Stars and Stripes Forever.’ But Guinness put that effort in the wider category of “most flute players playing a recognized symphonic masterpiece,” and they asked for $6,000 to create a new category specifying both piccolos and ‘Stars and Stripes Forever.’
So Campbell decided not to go with Guinness. It turns out, in his own research, he couldn’t find any existing record for piccolo players, so he decided to establish it on his own. Although the Facebook post says 201 players joined, Campbell says it was 189 — and he had three observers there to verify it. The piccolo players who volunteered heard about the project through social media. They came from Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Louisiana. One woman flew down from Connecticut and three players came from the army band in San Antonio. There were middle and high school students, college students, teachers and professional musicians.
“We had no idea how loud it was going to be,” Campbell says, “if they would be in tune, if it would sound awful. The first time through, before the concert, we were flabbergasted because it sounded great. The crowd just went crazy. It was a real feel-good time. If someone comes up and beats our record, we know how to beat them again.”