Madison County and northeast Georgia residents will get in the Christmas spirit Saturday with an annual holiday tradition — the Comer Christmas Parade at 2 p.m.
And they’ll be treated to tunes by the nationally recognized award-winning Madison County High School Marching Band under the direction of Nicholas Golding, which has been selected to serve as the Grand Marshal for the parade.
The Madison County High School “Red Raider” Band is comprised of 77 instrumentalists, 23 colorguard members, three drum majors and six managers. Its primary purpose is to support the school system’s mission of graduating independent, productive citizens. Over the last five years, the program has experienced an unprecedented level of growth, in both size and quality.
Here is an overview of the MCHS band:
•MCHS Symphonic Band — The 77-member symphonic band is defined by the Georgia Performance Standards as a “Mastery” level band, meaning that it performs literature from highest difficulty classification. Since the 2008-2009 school year, the band has received nothing less than a rating of “superior” at its annual, state-sponsored performance evaluation. In addition, the symphonic band was recently selected to perform as a featured guest of the University of Georgia’s 63rd annual January High School Band Festival. In February, the band will also be a featured guest of the 36th annual University of South Carolina Band Clinic. These performances are among the highest honors for bands across the southeastern United States.
•MCHS Jazz Ensemble — The jazz ensemble was created in 2008, and has received “superior” ratings in every year of its existence. The ensemble follows a standard big-band instrumentation and is made up of 20 students. This award-winning ensemble has performed throughout Georgia and South Carolina and received acclaim at events such as the Discovery Jazz Festival, The Milton Jazz Festival, The Sunbelt Jazz Festival, the University of Georgia Jazz Festival and the Twilight Festival in Athens.
•MCHS “Red Raider” Marching Band — At 109 total members, the “Red Raider” marching band is one of the largest student organizations in Madison County. Over the last five years, the marching band has amassed numerous trophies and awards, resulting in two “excellent” ratings, 20 “superior” ratings, 12 class championships, two divisional championships, one grand championship, one regional championship and one national championship.
“MCHS band members are among the best the county has to offer, many of whom are active in their local churches, scouting organizations, 4H, FFA, National Honor Society, Beta Club, Cheerleading, Soccer, Rifle, and more, all while balancing their respective memberships with an active band schedule and a rigorous course of study,” Comer parade officials said.
Golding, band director and music educator, is from Mebane, North Carolina, and is a 1998 graduate of Orange High School. After high school, he attended Western Carolina University for one year before accepting a position as a French hornist in the US Navy Music Program. Upon completion of basic training in Great Lakes, Illinois, Golding attended the Armed Forces School of Music, graduating in December of 2000. Golding holds an associates degree in liberal arts from Excelsior College, a bachelors degree in music performance from Piedmont College, a masters degree in music education from Piedmont College, and an educational specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from Lincoln Memorial University.
Since 1994, Golding has been active as a performer, adjudicator, designer and educator in the band and drum corps activity.
Golding was a member of the Tarheel Sun Drum and Bugle Corps from 1997-1999. During this time, the corps was a two-time finalist at the Drum Corps International Division II/III World Championships, and a quarterfinalist at the Drum Corps International Division I World Championships. After one year as a member of the Western Carolina University marching band, Golding joined the US Navy Bands as a French horn instrumentalist and staff arranger, serving in both capacities for seven years. Upon his 2006 departure from the Navy, Golding performed for three more years as a member of the Appalachian Brass Orchestra and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra.
The MCHS band director has been an adjudicator for seven years, judging across the entire southeastern portion of the United States. His adjudicator training and affiliations include or have included the West Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association, the United States Scholastic Band Association, the Florida Marching Band Coalition, and the Central States Judges Association.
As a designer, Golding has composed and arranged for many bands and drum corps across the United States. He received his training at the Armed Forces School of Music’s arranging course, and provided arrangements for some of the US Navy’s finest rock, jazz, and concert bands. Groups performing Golding’s compositions and arrangements have seen great success, at the state, regional, national, and international levels. Groups performing his works have won state championships in Florida, performed at multiple Bands of America regionals, and placed in Open Class finals at the Drum Corps International World Championships.
As an educator, Mr. Golding has served as a technician and consultant for nearly 30 bands across the southeastern US, and spent the 2006-2007 school year as an instructor for the University of Tennessee’s “Pride of the Southland” marching band. He served as the brass caption head for the Teal Sound Drum and Bugle Corps in 2006, and as program coordinator/brass caption head for Spokane Thunder in 2008. His 2008 brassline placed fourth in open class, outscoring brasslines nearly four times its size. As program coordinator, he assembled a staff that not only achieved the highest score in corps history (91.025), but also took the corps to world championship finals for the first time.
Golding is currently in his fifth year as the director of bands at Madison County High School. His ensembles consistently receive “superior” ratings at district performance evaluations. Under his direction, the band program has more than doubled in size, and has become recognized as formidable program in the concert, marching, and jazz idioms.
Golding resides in Commerce with his wife, Erica, and their two children, Caroline and Knox.