Bass Drum Journal 2002
74 Mt. Awesome!by Courtenay Kessler '03, Manager 2001-2002
For the last few months, I've spent my time thinking about what I could say about The Band. As I sit down to write this piece, I return again and again to all that has been said, and what that means. It's impossible to answer, but I ask, what is the Band?
First, we are a marching band. The product of over 80 years of development. School spirit. An asset to the athletic department, and to the University. A completely student run group. Two entirely dedicated faculty members. A product of our dedicated, caring, and enthusiastic alumni. An esoteric humor group, priding itself on years of tradition. A corporation. We are football, hockey, basketball, and parades. Still, while I take great pride in all that we do, there is something more to the Harvard University Band, the something that has endeared the group to me, and to so many others. The HUB is a home.
When I came to Harvard, I had no idea what I would do. Coming from an extremely tight group of friends, I only knew that my heart was back in New York, and I wasn't sure how I would find another group so dear to my heart. During freshman week, I called a friend from home. Ten minutes into the conversation, I was deafened by the sound of a marching band marching through my dorm. We laughed at the seeming ridiculousness until the band had passed through. Within a few hours, there would be a knock on my door. Two Bandies were standing there, asking me to audition.
Three years later, I'm still here, and I've found a group of people who rival my crowd from home. The Band has become my family in Cambridge. For the fall semester, I always know what my Saturday plans will be, and I always know that despite the rain, early hour, and long field rehearsal, I'll laugh like crazy. I know that weekends during the winter will always have a great hockey or basketball game. I know Commencement can be one of the most emotional, but also most rewarding and beautiful days of the entire year. And I know I can go to the band room at any time of day and find someone to go have ice cream, watch a movie, or help me count 1650 brochures.
This past year, I've had many great opportunities with the Band. The end of our undefeated football season marked the beginning of our new senior staff - myself, along with Courtney, Chris, Natalie, and Erin. Drawing on the excitement of that season, we managed to gather a huge student staff. The staff is so dedicated and enthusiastic - it's been such a pleasure to work with each one. Our winter season saw many new arrangements, by entirely new arrangers within the HUB, and Chris ran efficient rehearsals for these new songs. We played at the women's basketball NCAA tournament down in North Carolina. The men's hockey NCAA playoffs created a small emergency - it was spring break, and there was little hope of assembling a band. Organized in part by Kris Gauksheim '01 and Brad Barnhorst '00, we managed to create a group of alumni and current bandies to send to the Worcester playoffs. Watching all the alumni assemble that morning, I relearned everything I love about the Band.
We played at both the men's and women's Ivy Swim Meets, gigged the Princeton lacrosse game, and marched in a celebration for Cambridge Little League. Courtney prepared a strong show for a gig for the YPO (Young Professionals Organization.) We took a needed vacation as Natalie planned our ski trip to Montreal. Of course, we Christmas caroled, marched in the Duckling Day Parade, and led the MSWalk this past April. And Erin began working to develop a database to promote the history of the Band within the current group.
One of my greatest joys as manager has been watching the Band develop as a unique family throughout the year. Hearing alumni speak of the Band as a family has reminded me how important the group is, not because of all that it does, but because of the people it allows you to meet. I've done so many things with the Band, and I've had so much support through my time here. It can be a hard place to be, yes, but it can be a safe space, somewhere you can always trust.
Wherever the Band goes from here, it will always be a home. Realizing how new so many of our "traditions" are has reminded me that there are reasons for why we must switch things. The problems this band faces are different than those that have faced the Band from so many decades past. We are seeing a need to reorganize how we run staff, how we run gigs, and which gigs we play. Our relationships with the other bands have evolved, as have our ties to the Athletic Department, the University, and other university groups. For example, this fall, we will be leading a teach-in with the Crimson Key for the freshman to learn fight songs. With the new season, and with Bud as our new drum major, our staff is excited to work for all the change and all the tradition. We know that our family will change dramatically in the next few months. It's so hard to look back and say goodbye to this year's graduates. To me, they were the Band, and I will miss them. A special thanks and goodbye to Alisha, John, Jenn, and Nate, who have taught me more than they could imagine. Watching them graduate, and realizing this football season will be my last, has been difficult. Still, I am excited to be working with such a wonderful group of people - Courtney, Chris, Bud, and Erin are some of the most fabulous people I have the pleasure of knowing - and I can't wait to see what we make of the rest of our time on staff.
Saying the Magic Wordsby John P. Morris IV '02, Drill Master 2000-2001
The first day of my first official year in the Harvard University Band began just as the first day of my final official year. Nervously, I waited for the magic words that would launch the six-minute entertainment whirlwind I was about to embark on the for the first of what would seem like countless times-"Ladies and Gentlemen, the Harvard University "insert wildly funny tag-line here" Band! As a freshman, I awaited the words just behind the home end zone in Soldier's Field swathed in my crisp new jacket, brandishing a trumpet, and absolutely sure that I was going to mess something up.
Four years later I found myself in the same jacket, albeit slightly worn, waiting for those magic words and still absolutely sure that I was going to mess something up. Things were just a little different though, I was behind a microphone about sixty feet up and to the right of where I stood that first Saturday in September 1999, responsible for starting everything off and making sure everything went right. I flipped on the public address system, and to my surprise it was my voice that set the Band's first field show of the year into motion.
As Drill Master, for nine wild consecutive weeks it was my job to try to tap the unique creative abilities of some 70 bandies, sculpt together some 70 different ideas, and choreograph our collective vision to please thousands of people of all different ages. In a year that saw so much tragedy the mission to produce shows that both entertained our varied audience while retaining the tremendous spirit that makes every HUB show unique was more difficult than ever. With great creativity and hard work though, I believe the band fulfilled the challenge; it is now my honor to recap our season of halftime hilarity.
Holy Cross: Cancelled
Brown: Crimson 27 - Brown 20
Our first show of the year honored our omnipresent "Bulbous Behemoth of Bass," Bertha the Drum. With the help of the arranging prowess of our Student Conductor, the band weaved our "Subsonic Sister's" musical bildungsroman from her mischief at Woodstock to her present position as HUB drum matriarch and even revealed the origin of the huge H's that adorn her sides. In an attempt to please the fans as much as we did, the Crimson pulled off a second half victory.
Lafayette: Crimson 38 - Lafayette 14
We followed up our tribute to Bertha with a tribute to summer blockbuster films. Showing a little Hollywood insight, the band revealed what three sequels might grace the silver screen come next year, including my personal favorite: Sly Stallone's new star vehicle aimed at the older crowd Rocky VII: Depends on the Opponent. In what would become a pleasant trend, the football team followed up with their own sequel to their win from the week before.
Northeastern: Crimson 35 - Northeastern 20
Harvard played Northeastern for the first time in eight years this week; the Band decided to try something new as well. Using the entire field as a game board, we paid tribute to three video games that are legendary for helping to waste time. Former vice-president Al Gore was heard to remark of our agile renditions of Pong, Tetris, and Snood (coincidentally invented by band alum Dave Dobson '89), "in a word-stunning."
Cornell: Crimson 26 - Cornell 6
After playing for new President Larry Summer's Installation (we'll get back to him later) the band hopped on a couple busses and traveled to Ithaca, New York. There we suggested some new recruiting techniques to drum up excitement on Cornell's rather predictable campus. With a little help from two jauntily dressed freshmen, one cow, and a very persistent shark, applying to Cornell would never be the same again.
Princeton: Crimson 28 - Princeton 26
Princeton students have been at a loss for entertainment ever since their nude Olympics were shut down. This week, we told the tale of Princeton students who tried their luck, not to mention their meager intellect on game shows to fill the void created by the loss of their "au-natural" games.
Dartmouth: Crimson 31 - Dartmouth 21
When Dartmouth rolled into Cambridge we had prepared a very special surprise 232nd birthday party for them. We celebrated Eleazor "Fluffy" Wheelock's choice to found Dartmouth in a pastoral land perfect for students and their wooly friends, and the great leaps that have been made in Hanover student housing over the years, from overcrowded shacks to overcrowded trailer homes. We topped off the unforgettable birthday celebration with a cake for the Big Green and a special appearance by Natalie Ignacio '03.
Columbia: Crimson 45 - Columbia 33
After the Crimson came back from a 21 point first half deficit against Dartmouth to remain unbeaten, the band followed our Gridirion Kings to Columbia where we revealed the relationship between Columbia's Football team and the famous psychic Miss Cleo. We found that Columbia students' futures look as bright and shiny as their future employer's Golden Arches. The Crimson prevailed on the field and we "officially" welcomed our freshman to the band in the stands. On the bus ride home we began preparing for the following week's battle of the unbeaten Ivy League squads.
Pennsylvania: Crimson 28 - Pennsylvania 21
We saved our best show for our last home game of the year. Knowing the crowd would be huge to see if Harvard could keep its unbeaten streak going, we pulled out all the stops and had 9 notable Harvard Professors on the field to poke fun at Harvard's foibles. We investigated what happens to all those first-year pre meds who change their minds and then welcomed Government Professor Harvey C. Mansfield and Professor of Chemistry Jim Davis to demonstrate a technique to stop teaching fellows from inflating grades. The coup de grace was the final joke in which, after literally much fanfare provided by our trumpet section, President Lawrence Summers played a game of Red Rover with our other guests. Although unplanned, President Summers showed that his support for the Crimson is so strong that it even affects his choice of undergarment colors, which the Washington Post and Boston Globe found particularly interesting.
yale: Crimson 35 - yale 23
With hopes for their first undefeated season since 1913 on the line, the Crimson traveled to the frightening confines of New Haven. The Band followed; after a concert at the Harvard Club of New York the night before the Game, we looked to mythology for halftime inspiration. After some pairwise comparisons to put yale in their place, we presented them with a Trojan Bulldog complete with a new mascot that fit the "chicken-little" spirit of their football team perfectly. The second half saw the Crimson rise to the occasion and remain undefeated, and the end of my reign as Drill Master. After soaking my successor in champagne, I returned to the trumpet section that spawned me.
Amazingly, my fears of messing things up were mostly unfounded, and the Band had a great creative year. Working with Alicia, Jenn, and Nate was a wonderful experience, and I know that the new senior staff will keep the creative spirit of the Band alive and thriving.
John P. Morris IV
Proud of a 9-0 Season? We've Been Doing It for 83 Years.by Jennifer Doxtader '02, Student Conductor 2000-2001
I sometimes find myself examining the unique history of the Harvard Band and trying to get a grasp on what it means to be such an old organization and campus presence. I know it's difficult to have a long institutional memory when membership is renewed every year and (most) members are only there for four. But even without that kind of turnover it takes quite a bit of imagination to reconcile the pictures of the band, formed from the remnants of a banjo club in 1919, to the gallivanting group we have today. So, I like to put the band's history into a more general musical context to get a grasp of what the band has gone through.
In the wake of the First World War, the Harvard Band was around to witness the birth of jazz-a genre to which two very strong and active Harvard musical groups are dedicated. Soon after the rise of jazz, the pop tunes of Leroy Anderson were all the style and one of our directors topped the charts. The band managed to survive even with smaller numbers during the years of the Second World War. Rock 'n' roll hit the scene and everyone was mortified by the kids' music. The band even survived the years of disco, if you can believe that, without too much permanent damage. The eighties? Still going strong. We even integrated the music of the nineties into our repertoire. But today we find ourselves in a time of mediocre pop music and mediocre rival college bands, desperately seeking new musical direction.
I think the band is undergoing a major revolution in our musical program--a ground-up effort to bring our sound to another level. With a significant donation from the Band Foundation we were able to purchase state of the art software for music arranging. Between this new software and a promise to try out at least one new arrangement for each fall rehearsal, we have suddenly rejuvenated the band's love of arranging. Many band members--from freshmen to crusties--have learned how to use the new software, and many of use are delving into music theory for the first time in an effort to make the most of each arrangement. We've created, in this one season alone, 32 new arrangements and even more cheers for individual sections. I think this is an astonishing accomplishment, especially for a group that for years had put the art of arranging aside in favor of less challenging pursuits. I think this is the key to making a swift return to our vastly superior musicality of years past. I will never say another Ivy band holds a candle to our sound on the field, not even at our worst games, but there were times in the past when there was an even bigger difference. I want to see the band blow the others away each and every time we go out on the field or meet in a hockey rink.
How can we take a new piece of software, a few new arrangements, and a bit of enthusiasm and rejuvenate the sound of the Harvard Band? We can grab the attention of more of the musically talented by showcasing the fact that we are the only group on campus were you can arrange a song and have it performed in front of as many as 50,000 spectators at a time. Not only that, but there's no limit to how many times you can do it, if you've got the energy and enthusiasm. Also, when we play new music, we get a chance to experiment with different instrumentations, try different types of music, and expand our musical horizons. I like to think people are more interested in going to rehearsals and sectionals when there is new music week after week. And since most of our musical growth and maturation takes place in rehearsals, this means we are getting people to rehearsals and playing on their horns more than if we had not been expanding our music collection. By grabbing the interest and curiosity of the musically inclined, we can expand our program and grow not only in numbers, but also in musical ability. Even when I think about how much has changed over the past 8 decades, I know that there is much more improvement and progress to come for this band.
Finally, I need to say a few thanks. First, I would like to thank the Foundation for their unending support of the band-they have done a lot to encourage the undergrads to think outside of their short time in the band. Thank you to each of our alumni who have contributed to the success of the band, through your financial and moral support over the years. Thanks to my parents for still being impressed with my music-it means a lot to me. I would like to thank Tom for his undying love of this organization-it means a lot to each of us in the band, and your support has meant a lot to me personally. Thanks, Tom, for these 30 years! And, to my senior staff, Alisha, Nate, John, and Matt-you have been great friends and it was a lot of fun. Good luck, Chris-I think you have a lot to give the group this year and it should be fun. I am glad to be leaving the band in the hands of some very capable and wonderful people. Best of luck to the new staff!
Full Uniformby Nathan Meyer, Drum Major 2000-2001
About twenty minutes after getting a bottle of champagne dumped on my head, I had a distinct “now what?” feeling. I stood on the path outside of Soldiers’ Field with a hundred bandies formed up behind me, and I had absolutely no idea what to do. For thirty seconds, I just stared at the band and waited to for something to happen. They just stared back waiting for me. Fortunately, the cold snapped me back to clarity, and I whistled the band off to O.D. We played our way back to the Yard, and I made it through my first day without causing any disasters.
After yale, I started to get a handle on being a senior staffie, leading a trip to Québec, cheering on the hockey and basketball teams, and crusading against white socks at full uniform gigs. I even got to meet Jackie Chan. And of course there were a few parades where I actually got to be lead for a little while. And as I got comfortable with being Drum Major, I got to know the band, and as a part of the organization, I was able to see the other bandies become, in turn, more comfortable and at ease with the Harvard University Band.
After commencement came fall, freshmen, and football games. John's column should have everything on the shows (although I feel the need to mention here that Larry Summers dropped his pants in front of 10,000 people during the Penn show). We recruited a great crop of freshmen, and they took to the band and embraced it more than any other class I have seen (no offense meant to '03 and '04). As the season progressed, they went from new kids to a real part of the band, in every sense. It might just be the perspective from senior staff, but the first years seemed to grow into the Band at the same time as they grew into Harvard.
This season was one of triumphs; the football team had its first undefeated season since 1916, and the band continued its 82-year streak. We made Nat Dickey play red rover and submit to Freshman Cuts. The sophomores entered their second year as enthusiastically as their first, and new ones joined the staff after turnover in November. We even put one of them on senior staff (good luck, Chris). Though some of them were still a little unclear on what full uniform meant, by the end of the season they were becoming the heart of the band, ready to take over in the coming season.
And fall meant road trips. We traveled to Cornell, Columbia (what?), and yale. Bus trips bring out the best in the band, and the long drives across New York were part of what made me stick with the band in the first place. This year they had a more serious effect as well. Our first trip, to Holy Cross, was cancelled after September 11, and many of us visited Ground Zero, which was still burning at the time. Nonetheless, hitting the road was a great experience for all of us, and no football season would be complete without it.
Football season was also a time of transition. The juniors moved up to take over the band, and my class stepped down. This is my fourth and last season as a full-fledged bandie, and leaving will be one of the hardest parts of graduation. But part of the nature of the band is that it is constantly changing. By the end of the season, I felt that I knew what being Drum Major was all about. I knew the routes, the uniform, the minutaie that make up my job, and being a senior staffie had become natural. But at the same time, I was ready to hand off the mace and move on to other things. I wish the best of luck to the new staff in leading the band for the coming season, and I hope that all of you enjoy senior staff and the band as much as I have.
Conductor's Cornerby Tom Everett
Can you believe it? An undefeated football season…and the team won too! It was exciting to be part of a "perfect" season and to see life come back to Soldiers Field. Please permit me to share some special personal highlights. This season marked a special occasion for me, my thirtieth with the Harvard Band (and I still don't have a Harvard degree!!). Two events took place that were complete surprises. At the all-important, home Penn Game, Stud Con Jenn Doxtader handed me the baton during the pregame show as the Band was completing its entrance to "Our Director." Traditionally, the Band "bangs" to an "H," the Stud Con conducts a Harvard Song, and I conduct the "Banner." I asked Jenn, "Why aren't you conducting?" She smiled and said, "I think you should…just get up on the ladder." As I looked at the Band, I saw one of the strangest looking H's it has ever formed! (and you know how extreme that can be!). The cross bar was too high and the right side of the H looked like it was meditating!
John Morris, Drill Master and announcer, boomed throughout the stadium "Mentoring Harvard students for 30 years…Tom, this one's for you." I climbed the ladder (you know it gets taller and takes longer every year) and finally saw the formation… "TOM." It was a wonderful moment that I greatly appreciated.
The following week at "The Game," the Harvard and yale Bands combined during pregame to form a red, white, and blue American flag while performing "God Bless America" in a symbol of national unity following the events of 9/11. Tom Duffy (who this year celebrates his 20th as yale Band Director) then stepped down from the ladder and motioned me over to the 50-yard line. Once again, the announcer, this time a yalie, echoed "for 30 years of collegial rivalry, the yale Band would like to acknowledge Professor Tom Everett…and invite him to conduct the combined bands in our National Anthem." I was quite moved, not only because of the rare moment, but to yale students' credit, they were respectful and cooperated with our band.
Following a leave of absence between mid-April and September 2001, I returned to 74 Mt. Auburn St. to join a Senior Staff that had admirably taken on extra duties during the spring and summer, as my absence had been unexpected. I'm delighted to announce that as of September 1, 2002, Harvard University hired the first full-time Assistant Director of Bands at Harvard, in the person of Nat Dickey. Although not a "Harvard Man" as such, Nat did spend six years at 9 Prescott St., taking private trombone lessons with me from 6th grade through high school. A Lexington resident at the time, Nat remembers 9 Prescott as a dark basement, always full of student activity. Now with an office upstairs in the "cozy" Crow's Nest at 74 Mt. Auburn, Nat has settled in to the Assistant Director position and has been an invaluable colleague: sharing Band responsibilities, leading the Sunday Jazz Band, co-conducting the Wind Ensemble, and helping with the ever-increasing administrative duties. He also oversees most of the new percussion equipment the University has recently purchased. Please give Nat a warm welcome when you meet him.
As anticipated, Harvard is changing rapidly in the new millennium: a new University President; a new, to-be-named Dean of the Faculty; a new Athletic Director; a new Director of the Office for the Arts; a new Assistant Director of Bands; and much discussion about a new campus being developed. With an eye (and ear) to the past as well as the future, members, Band staff, and the Band Foundation have met several times in "Strategic Meetings." The following list indicates the priorities and concerns of the "Strategic Committee:"
- Recruitment - evaluation and extension of contact with prospective, new, and returning students.
- Retention - research on the reasons for attrition and strategies for better retention.
- Performance quality - continued focus in rehearsal on developing sound, sonority, execution, and projection.
- Perception/reputation - evaluation of the Band's role in the Harvard community, expectations of various constituencies (including Band members themselves), and development/revision of public relations strategies.
- Group spirit - evaluation of internal pride and camaraderie and the Band's ability to affect campus-wide spirit.
Thank you for your communications this past year. It's an exciting time for the Band as we are taking time for consideration of our future.
Spotlight on Marlowe Sigal '52: Fifty Years in the HUBby Courtney Roberts '03
Marlowe Sigal has lived an impressive life by anyone's standards. Graduating with a B.A. in chemistry in 1952, Marlowe went on to earn a degree from the Harvard Business School before entering the field of industrial chemistry, where he is still active as President of Solutek Corporation in Boston. However, what separates Marlowe from the crowd is his unmatched longevity as a member of the Harvard Band. Since entering the Band as a freshman in 1947, he has maintained an unbroken streak of performing in at least one football game each and every year. I had the pleasure of speaking with Marlowe on April 17 to get his unique perspective on a half century of HUB.
When Marlowe first donned a Harvard band jacket, the organization bore little resemblance to its current state. All male and twice the current size, even the uniforms were different. At the time, white trousers, lighter crimson jackets, and red ties were the apparel of choice. During those years, football games were a grand social affair, as band members secured dates from Radcliffe or Wellesley to join them in the stands. The student body regularly filled the stadium each Saturday, well dressed for the occasion, and imbibing alcohol in moderation. Though the band scrambled between formations then as now, marching to and from the field was much more uniform, due in part to the influence of returning war veterans bringing military marching experience to Harvard.
From his undergrad years, Marlowe has many fond memories of band trips to Columbia, Princeton, Cornell and yale. Midnight concerts for sleeping students at Princeton and yale, playing on the steps of the statehouse in Albany on the way to Cornell, and bonding with upperclassmen are just a few of the memories formed during those early years. Certainly, the football wasn't very memorable. As Marlowe put it, "Over the years Harvard has always been awful. I remember once against yale, a defender picked up our quarterback and ran him and the ball back five yards!" In addition to the Band's transformation into its present state, Marlowe has also witnessed the establishment and growing importance of the Band Foundation. Begun two decades ago as a small group with a modest endowment, the Foundation has grown by leaps and bounds. While not a source of funding for regular operations, the Foundation has designed itself as a "safety net" to fund instrument purchases, tours, or other big projects that the band could not conceivably fund independently through its annual budget. Marlowe himself has been a member of the band foundation for over ten years, and is proud to have seen its membership and endowment swell over the last few years. Hopefully the Foundation will be able to assist the Band in new and exciting ways, allowing the Band to expand into new venues.
Marlowe spoke fondly of his first band director, Malcolm Holmes, a self-described "200% Harvard man." A fondly remembered teacher and conductor, Mal was beloved by students both before and after his tragic death in 1954. Though several other conductors directed the band during the next 20 years or so, none managed to quite embody the spirit of Mal that Marlowe remembered. And then there was Tom Everett. "At first I think he tried a bit too hard to pattern himself after Mal, who was by then a Harvard icon…It took him a while to realize that he was the new Mal Holmes. …Within five years, it really was Tom's band, as it has been ever since," Marlowe declared.
Over the years, however, the important things never change. Harvard undergraduates continue to be extremely bright, fine people that are a pleasure to talk with each year. For Marlowe, the opportunity to continue playing is treasured, and one intimately tied to the Harvard sporting experience. "I don't think I've ever been to a football game in my life when I didn't have that tenor sax in my hand," he said. But most importantly, the Band past and present remains a social organization. Marlowe emphasized that "the Band then had great spirit; the Band today has great spirit. The Band was characterized by great friendships, and still is today. Great camaraderie then; great camaraderie today. Those are constants throughout 50 years of the Band."
Marlowe rejoins the Band year after year because of what he describes as "the wonderful social, academic, and sports experience…And at this point, one just doesn't want to break a streak!" When asked for parting words, he replied simply, "Illegitimum non carborundum." After 53 years, I don't think we have to worry about anything keeping this guy down!
The Harvard Band, 2001: Impressions of a New Assistant Directorby Nathaniel H. Dickey
So there I was, flat on my back in the mud, staring up at the September sky, asking myself: "what is this Harvard Band about anyway?"
How, you may ask, does a new staff member, an Officer of the University for goodness' sake, end up in such a position? Well, it pertains to the unique organization that is the Harvard University Band.
Ask each of the Band's Senior (student) Staff what the Band is all about and you will hear some variation among responses…but one message comes through loud and clear: "We are here to serve the University with music, spirit, and entertainment." And serve they do. The Band is one of the most active organizations on campus, in terms of commitment of time and energy, performing at most (this year, all) football games, both home and away, as well as hockey and basketball games; supporting University and alumni functions (such as the recent President's Installation and every Commencement) with ceremonial music; participating in parades and other events throughout the greater Boston area; not to mention performing on campus for student enjoyment. But what about the "inside scoop"? What motivates these energetic, passionate, committed musician/entertainers? How do the zany half-time shows come into being, and what is life like inside the Harvard Band?
My first impressions this fall of the Harvard Band occurred during Frosh Week, when a dedicated troop of veteran "Bandies" returned to campus Labor Day weekend to prepare to welcome the new students. They arrived in an array of conditions by every means of transportation imaginable - some bright-eyed and alert in broad daylight by car, others wearily by T from the airport in the late afternoon, and a few blowing in late at night, wild-eyed, by some unknown means of transportation possibly out of a Harry Potter novel. What unified them all was a palpable eagerness, an enthusiasm for the fall season, and an affinity for the Band's arcane mission…which was still somewhat of a mystery to me at the time. Their arrival transformed the Band Room from its sleepy summer state to a bustling hive of activity - staff members feverishly organizing music, instruments, and uniforms; others sharing summer adventure stories while putting the finishing touches on the new Band handbook; still others trading jokes as they prepared for the Freshman Activities Fair.
The events of September 11 sobered us all and proved a difficult time as the Band struggled to come to terms with the implications. For me, a glimmer of hope was that the Band drew together to console each other - this group is not just a musical group, it is a close-knit family. Not knowing whether the first game of the season against Holy Cross would occur, Staff and Directors alike thought hard about what contribution the Band could make to the recovery and healing process. Members created new arrangements of patriotic songs; staff decided to forego the usual half-time show style in favor of a unifying concert in cooperation with the Holy Cross Band; and all of us asked ourselves and each other what we could do within our sphere to help and make a difference. In the end, appropriately, the game was canceled, and the plans went unrealized, but it was the process that impressed me - looking for ways to make a difference.
A week's distance from the events saw a new optimism and energy within the Band, and preparations for the Brown game were more festive, thought still a bit subdued. It was decided to proceed with a traditionally (for the Harvard Band) humorous show for Brown, in hopes of giving the audience a break, an escape from the tensions of world news. I was asked and accepted an inside view on this first game in my new position: a spot in the rank and file playing trombone.
Saturdays in the fall are, for the Band, entirely devoted to support of athletics. All rise early (or brave the wrath of their colleagues!) to march through Harvard Square performing Harvard songs en route to the practice field behind Dillon Field House. There, the Drill Master ascends to the "crow's nest" position from which s/he verbally wrestles, taunts, cajols, and teases the Band into its formations for the day's performance. (Keep in mind that in order to allow members time for their studies, the Band rehearses only twice per week, learning an entirely new show for each game. Friday afternoon's music rehearsal is but a prelude to the Saturday morning excitement when the music is enhanced by the humor and wit created earlier in the week by the Drill Master, in consultation with a team of Band wags.)
The Saturday morning practice can be grueling, especially when, as on that Brown Saturday in September, the recent rain had made a swamp of the field. Resourceful as always, the Band turned a potentially dreary morning into a fun-filled romp in the mud. Altering formations to form words never intended by the unsuspecting Drill Master, interrupting rehearsal for quick forays onto the intramural field to egg on their Housemates, and stopping to eat a welcome breakfast provided by University Hall are but a few of the ways Band members keep each other's spirits up while working hard. My true initiation into Band membership came when I was drafted into the traditional game of "Red Rover," whereby I was summarily dumped on my back in the mud. It was all in fun - and I thoroughly enjoyed my initiation!
Through marching on that Brown Saturday, taking the Director's role (conducting the National Anthem) the following week versus Lafayette, and watching from the stands during the Northeastern game, I was able to see the Band's football performances from many angles. Being in the Band Room regularly during the intervening days between shows, I also took part in conversations, discussions, and debates about the Band's role, historically and today. About the Harvard Band, I have heard high praise, mild compliments, unfair complaints, and constructive criticisms from within the Band, other members of the Harvard community, and the greater community at large. As a "freshman" Assistant Director, I must say I am first and foremost impressed with the commitment and caring of the Staff and the membership of the Band with regard to its purpose, traditions, and future. There are certainly areas in which the Band can improve, as well as areas in which it is a model for the Ivy League, and I am confident that the Harvard University Band will meet the challenges it faces in the coming years.
(Originally published in the Harvard football program for the Penn Game, November 10, 2001.)
Wind Ensemble Update
Following the unique "spatial concert" of the music of American composer Henry Brant (Pulitzer Prize winner, 2002) in April 2001, Larry Isaacson of the Boston Conservatory served as guest conductor of the Wind Ensemble for its ARTS FIRST program of "Music of New England Composers."
In the fall, the conducting responsibilities of the WE were shared by Tom Everett and newly appointed Assistant Director, Nathaniel Dickey. The Dartmouth Concert in October was dedicated to the memory of those lost in the tragic events of September 11th, particularly Band alumnus Ted Hennessy '88, who was on flight #11. In Ted's memory, the ensemble performed Richard Wagner's Trauersinfonie (the same work the ensemble once played at Robert F. Kennedy's funeral). The rest of the program included the delightful Third Suite by Robert Jager, and Allen Feinstein's Fanfare for Tom (composed in commemoration of Tom Everett's 30th year as Director).
The December program honored Maine composer Elliott Schwartz. The ensemble premiered, under the composer's supervision, no less than four new works, including the major atmospheric "sound environment" entitled Rain Forest with Birds. The music of Ralph Vaughan Williams (Scherzo alla Marcia from Symphony #8 and Toccata Marziale) was also performed in acknowledgement of Elliott Schwartz's research on the music of Vaughan Williams.
March brought spring to Harvard a bit early (the actual weather outside notwithstanding) with a concert entitled "Rites of Spring: Music of the Russian Masters." The program included Shostakovich's Festive Overture, Miaskowsky's Symphony #19, Rimsky-Korsakov's Clarinet Concerto (soloist: Matt Hartzell '05), and Stravinsky's Circus Polka and Ebony Concerto (soloist: Alec Spiegelman '03). The evening concluded with a salute to cellist/conductor Mstislav Rosropovich in Leonard Bernstein's Slava!
ARTS FIRST weekend (May 2-5), Nat Dickey conducted "Music of the Circus" joined by jugglers and clowns. The music of Robert Russell Bennett, along with the circus marches Thunder & Blazes and Rolling Thunder, were played at lightning speed!
Jazz Bands Update
The Harvard Jazz Bands, and jazz in general at Harvard, had quite a healthy and active year. The Sunday Band, last year led by trumpet coach Lee Beatty and Manager Danny Rhodes '01, is now under the direction of Assistant Director of Bands Nat Dickey. The Sunday Band played the Adams Formal in December and two off campus performances at Wellesley and Lexington High Schools, in addition to joining the Monday Band for both major on-campus jazz concerts this year.
Lee Beatty, who has been warming up our brass section for a decade and advising Drill Masters and Stud Cons when requested, continues to freelance in the Boston area but is teaching full-time in the Burlington Public Schools. We will miss those subtle octaves with which he topped off many a trumpet cheer and Harvard Song, as well as his devotion to the Band on and off the field. We thank Lee Beatty for the contributions he has made to the Band tradition.
The December jazz concert served as a tribute to the late John Lewis, founder, leader, and composer for the Modern Jazz Quartet, and one of the most identifiable pianists in the history of jazz. Imagine: he served as accompanist for Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Illinois Jacquet, and wrote such standards as "Django." Ben Waltzer '93, who is now performing piano in NYC and writing for the NY Times, was our guest pianist.
Culminating in a gala concert on Saturday, April 6, the first week in April 2002 was a celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Harvard Jazz Bands. Jazz alums Don Braden '85, Anton Schwartz '89, and Sara Lazarus '84 were invited back as guest artists to serve on a panel discussion, conduct master classes, and perform as soloists with the Bands. Recapping some of the highlights and OFA commissions over the last 30 years, repertoire for the concert included Buck Clayton's "Harvard Swingster," Benny Carter's "Myra" (arranged by Band alumnus Allen Feinstein '86), Wayne Shorter's "Black Nile," Carla Bley's "Ups and Downs," and Charles Mingus' "Sue's Changes." Basie's "Every Tub" served as the jam tune to wind up the program. Dr. Jeff Wu '82 served as chairman of the jazz alum groups, who had two terrific jam sessions before and after the concert.
Please join us on December 14, 2002, when the Jazz Bands will perform with guest pianist/composer Joanne Brackeen.
Stephen D. MacDiarmid Award
Each year the Harvard Band presents this award to two of the most versatile first year musicians to join the Band program. The Award is given in the name of Stephen D. MacDiarmid '77, an active Band member who died shortly after his graduation from Harvard. This year's recipients are Diana Fridberg and Matthew Katcher.
Diana Fridberg is a 2001 graduate from Havre de Grace High School in Havre de Grace, Maryland. In high school, her diverse achievements varied from being a member of the National Honor Society, playing trumpet in the Jazz Ensemble and Wind Ensemble, to doing community service work. The president of her high school band, she was also the featured vocalist with the jazz band; she presently performs with the Harvard University Band. Diana will become a resident of Pforzheimer House this fall, and she is considering a concentration in biology of anthropology in preparation for a career in research.
Matthew Katcher is a graduate of Eastern High School in Vorhees, New Jersey, where he was a member of the wind ensemble and the marching band. Active in the National Honor Society, he was a frequent volunteer in community service organizations. He was selected to participate in the All South New Jersey Orchestra and All-State Symphonic Band. Matt plays clarinet in the Harvard University Band and the Harvard Wind Ensemble, and is a new member of the Eliot house community. He tutors middle school students through City Step and anticipates concentrating in Chemistry to pursue a career in chemical research.
Malcolm Holmes Scholarship
Each year, two first year students in the Harvard Band are awarded the Malcolm Holmes Scholarship in acknowledgement of their outstanding level of involvement in the Band. The Scholarship is intended to honor the life and contributions of Malcolm Holmes '28, Director of the Harvard Band during the 1940's and early 50's. The Scholarship is given to each recipient for all four of his/her years at Harvard. This year's recipients are horn player Kristin Waller and flautist Talya Havice.
Kristin Waller is from Mustang, Oklahoma, where she was mellophone section leader, Band Historian, and Public Relations Officer for the Marching Band, as well as Co-Captain of the Academic Team and Editor of the Creative Writing Anthology. Currently the Harvard Band's Webmaster and a member of the mellophone section, she will be a resident of Pforzheimer House in the fall.
Talya Havice is from Warren, Ohio, where she graduated from Champion High School. There she played flute in the Marching Band, oboe in the Concert Band, and served as section leader and Band President. She was also Captain of the Cross Country Team and Academic Team, as well as President of the Environmental Club. She plays flute in the Harvard Band and serves as Mailing Coordinator. Talya will move to Leverett House this fall.