JEFFERSONVILLE — Jeffersonville High School senior Zachery Abrams observed the crowd that gathered along Riverside Drive on Monday afternoon from his location down at the Ohio River bank.
He felt nerves, but took a deep breath to relax as he prepared his baritone to play the new hymn of Jeffersonville.
"Once you see the drum major counting off, you go into professional mode and play with your heart and soul for the band and for the community," Abrams said.
Community members filled the chairs and bleachers along Riverside Drive, sweating in the September heat, to be among the first to hear the first official hymn of Jeffersonville, titled "Progression." More than 100 students in the JHS marching band played the seven-plus minute song from the riverbank following the formal dedication of a new sculpture, called "Circum."
Composer Craig Fitzpatrick said the song shows the path Jeffersonville has taken throughout the years, including the industrial revolution to now and even glimpsing into the future. The experienced composer writes about 20 new marching band shows per year, but this was his first city hymn.
"I feel like art and culture are the things that tie things together. You remember culture and arts. You don't remember a road," Fitzpatrick said of the importance in investing in projects like Monday's event. "Arts and culture makes things last and give things a meaning. You care about things that mean something and if you care, you want to make it great."
JHS band director Adam Miller said he sought the help of the Jeffersonville City Council to come up with a way to mark the band's 90th anniversary. He said the council funded this project.
The band has been working on memorizing the hymn in addition to two other movements as well as marching formations for weeks. The three-part song is performed at home football games and at marching competitions around the state.
Students said they were excited to play for a new audience.
"This really makes it more real to the students. They get to see people really do care," Miller said of Monday's crowd.
Nancy Eklund was one of those community members who came to the event.
"I think [the hymn] showed the diversity of the area, the pride we have in our city, its growth and looking to the future for even greater things to come," Eklund said.
Prior to the song reveal, the ribbon was cut dedicating the paddlewheel sculpture. During the day, the sculpture is open to view the river through it. At night, it lights up as a complement to the lights on the walking bridge, said Dawn Spyker, public art administrator for the city.
Quincy Owens, one of the two artists that created the sculpture, said he was inspired by the area's steamboat culture.
"It's part of the past and part of the present," he said as to the reason why that design was chosen. "I hope people take away that sense of continuum and momentum [of a paddlewheel]."
Spyker said she was excited about the turnout.
"I think it was a great success," she said. "We had so many people coming out. The band sounded amazing. You couldn't ask for a better day."