Purdue “All-American” Band Day plays role in 9/11 commemorations
At football games across the nation on Saturday, Sept. 14, marching bands will commemorate 9/11with patriotic programs. But no one will do it with more color, pageantry and musicians than Purdue University where “All-American Band Day” brings 1,500 musicians from 24 high school bands to Ross-Ade Stadium’s field for a massed band show at halftime of the Western Michigan game.
“American Treasures” serves the Purdue “All-American” Band’s theme for the entire 2002 football season, and Band Day offers a special salute to the American spirit through classical, rock and purely patriotic music.
Aaron Copland’s hauntingly majestic “Fanfare for the Common Man” serves as an appropriate opener for the massed band program that includes the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band and 24 high school bands from across Indiana. Next the bands play the Grand Funk rock anthem “We’re An American Band.”
“That tune spent 13 weeks at No. 1 in 1973 and in some respects it could almost be our theme song today,” says David A. Leppla, director of the “All-American” Band.
The Band Day program concludes with “America the Beautiful” in an arrangement by Carmen Dragon, director of the Hollywood Bowl “so it’s a very showy version,” says Leppla.
Every year, Band Day offers high school musicians the chance to feel the thrill of performing in a college stadium packed with 60,000 plus screaming fans. David Barber, director of the Attica Red Rambler Marching Band, feels its an opportunity his band can’t pass up.
“Just the aura of the day, and being able to perform with so many different bands in front of more people than they’ll see all season…it’s a great thing for them (the Attica band),” Barber says.
M.T. “Mo” Trout, director of Jazz Studies at Purdue, will be guest conductor for Band Day. All the high school bands receive musical scores in advance to learn the music, then come together for a Saturday morning rehearsal prior to the game to put the show together under Trout’s direction.
Often the musical arrangements challenge the high school musicians which Barber sees as a plus, “and it gives them the opportunity to be intertwined with the Purdue band and see face to face what they do,” Barber says.
“The kids are looking forward to it, and it’s fun for me as a director because I have the chance to sit back and listen and watch.”
Mark Fridenmaker, director of the Delphi High School Band, says the camaraderie makes the event as special as the music. “Since we don’t compete, we just enjoy being with each other at the event. And there are a lot of big Purdue fans at Delphi, so being at the game and cheering is a lot of fun.”
As part of the commemorative activities at the Western Michigan game, a military fly-over is planned for the pregame flag ceremonies which also include the presentation of “I Am An American,” a Purdue Band tradition dating to the 1960s. Since 9/11 copies, requests for the words, and permission to present “I Am An American,” have come in from all over the United States and from Purdue alums abroad. Astronaut Jerry Ross, a Purdue alum, even took it into outer space in April 2002.
This year, with “All-American” Band Day falling in the 9/11 commemorative week, participation in the event will be particularly special. But Band day is special in other ways year in and year out, Leppla says.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for Indiana bands to participate in a major music event that does not involve the negative aspects of competition. They come here and they don't have to worry about who takes home the trophy. That's what music is all about – sharing, not competing,” he says.
Besides Ross-Ade performances, Band Day also includes a concert/pep rally led by the “All-American” Band at 11:30 a.m. at Slayter Center.
THE LIST OF PARTICIPATING BANDS INCLUDES:
Attica HS Red Rambler Marching Band, Attica; David Barber, Director
Benton Central HS Band, Oxford; Shirley M. Robertson, Director
Bloomfield HS Marching Cardinals, Bloomfield; Trent Tilford, Director
Carroll HS Marching Cougars, Flora; Jessica Rankin, Director
Churubusco HS Marching Pride, Churubusco; Mark Cheshier, Director
Columbia City HS Golden Eagles, Columbia City; Stan Roth, Director
Delphi HS Band, Delphi; Mark Fridenmaker, Director
Harrison HS Militia Band, West Lafayette; Steve Cotton, Director
Hobart HS Pride of Hobart, Hobart; Tam Trutwin, Director
Kankakee Valley HS Kougar Marching Band, Wheatfield; Kenneth L. Steidle, Director
McCutcheon HS Pride of McCutcheon, Lafayette; Brian Shaw, Director
New Prairie HS Marching Cougars, New Carlisle; Mark Belsaas, Director
North Central HS Marching Panther Band, Indianapolis; Charles Kunz, Director
North Judson-San Pierre H.S. Marching Bluejays, North Judson; Matthew Hibbets, Director
North Vermillion HS Marching Falcons, Cayuga; Jeanne Hershberger, Director
Peru HS Marching Tiger Band, Peru; Diane Haley, Director
Rushville Consolidated HS Roarin' Regiment, Rushville; T. R. Campbell, Director
Seeger HS Patriot Band, West Lebanon; George W. Peterson, Director
Shenandoah HS Raider Band, Middletown; Cathy Marshall, Director
Sheridan HS Blackhawk Band and Guard, Sheridan; Cheri Brightman, Director
Tipton HS Blue Devil Marching Band, Tipton; Rodney D. Fletcher, Director
West Central HS Trojan Band, Francesville; Michelle Lane, Director
Westview HS Warrior Band, Topeka; Mike Brown, Director
Wheeler HS Bearcat Band, Valparaiso; Brian S. Grenier, Director