Purdue Band Day packs musicians from end zone to end zone
Thirty high school marching bands from Indiana and Illinois will help the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band accomplish its goal of flooding Ross-Ade Stadium with color and musical pageantry on “All-American” Band Day, Sept. 22.
Following the postponement of the Sept. 15 Notre Dame game, the Akron game becomes the home opener for the Purdue Boilermakers. There will be a special tribute to American lives lost on Sept. 11, 2002 – including the presentation of “I Am An American” - during the band’s pregame ceremonies.
Look for the University of Akron Zips to be far outnumbered on Saturday– and not just by Boilermakers. Bison, Tigers, Cougars, Pirates, Panthers, Falcons, Cardinals, Eagles, Red Ramblers, Warriors and more will fill the stadium as more than 2,000 musicians and auxiliary members pack the annual Purdue event.
Music by such classic rock groups as Aerosmith, Styx and the Moody Blues will be featured in the halftime program performed by the massed bands.
The Boilermakers success on the gridiron has resulted in a happy problem for Purdue University Bands. More bands want to participate in Band Day than the Ross-Ade gridiron can accommodate, so the Bands staff was forced this year to put a cap of 30 on the number of bands performing.
Benton Central Band Director Shirley Robertson, who’s brought her band to Purdue for 10 straight years, has come during losing seasons as well as winning ones and considers the event itself a winner.
“It’s an easy decision to come,” she says. “The Purdue Band Day is such a warm, fuzzy day for all the performers. Every musician who performs at halftime is just overwhelmed by the power of music.”
The expanse of Ross-Ade Stadium, the huge crowds and the chance to play alongside college musicians all provide an unbeatable lure, says Robertson.
“Here’s a freshman playing his little trumpet surrounded by all that ambience. It makes your heart go. It’s so cool. What a great memory you’re giving that kid and he’s only on the 30 yard line,” she adds
Fitting the 2,000 musicians and auxiliary members on the field presented a challenge to the acting director of the “All-American” Band, William D. Kisinger. The assistance of a high tech computer program was needed to individually plot the position of each musician on the field, and even then the program crashed twice in the process of charting the huge halftime show.
Rock tunes that have stood the test of time fill Kisinger’s show. Each band practices the numbers on its own before coming to Purdue, then joins the “All-American” band for an intensive Saturday morning rehearsal prior to the Ross-Ade performance.
“The Story in Your Eyes” by the Moody Blues begins the show, followed by Steven Tyler and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” and Styx’ “Come Sail Away.” All the tunes were arranged by John Wasson, a Purdue staff arranger based in Dallas, Texas, who also arranges for such groups as the Dallas Cowboys Band and the Dallas Brass.
A complete list of schools participating follows: