Malta Bend Band invited to Liberty Bowl halftime

Monday, February 20, 2006

If Malta Bend band director James Duncan set out to prove that size of a heart is more important than size in numbers, he may have succeeded.

Duncan announced Friday that the Malta Bend School marching band, with only 24 members including the color guard, has been invited to perform at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl halftime show Dec. 30.

"Obviously this is a pretty important moment in the history of this school," he said. The invitation "recognizes our efforts and achievements of our students in a short amount of time."

Performing at the Liberty Bowl will be a chance for the band to be seen by thousands of people, get national exposure and perform with fine bands from across the country, he said.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," Duncan said. "The major hurdle is going to be financial," he said, estimating that the total cost of the trip would be $15,000.

He told students and parents attending the announcement that he planned to form a fund-raising committee to begin generating ideas for coming up with the money, but help was forthcoming immediately.

"We'd certainly like to help make this happen," said Mid-Missouri Energy General Manager Billy Gwaltney, whose son, William, is an eighth-grader at the school and plays trumpet in the band. "We have to pull this off. How could you not?"

Art Madden, finance manager of MME, presented Duncan with a $500 check to get the fund-raising project started.

"Our goal is that no student will be left behind," he said. "The kids got us to this point and everyone will be on this trip."

Duncan said he had the idea of applying for the invitation when he joined the school last fall. He said he was brought into to rejuvenate the music program, and he knew from experience that a trip to a bowl game could generate the interest and excitement that would help the process along.

"When you've got kids who have a lot of heart you want to go above and beyond for them," he said. "My goal is to have something exciting for the kids."

Duncan said he tried the same approach when he was at Calhoun High School. The Calhoun Marching Band was invited to the Liberty Bowl four years ago, he said.

The application for the invitation included a description of the band's history and accomplishments, Duncan said, plus phone and in-person interviews with representatives of Bowl Games of America, the organization that produces the half-time show at the Liberty Bowl.

Contact Eric Crump at

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