‘All-American’ Marching Band headed to China
Saturday, October 6, 2007
The Purdue “All-American” Marching Band is headed to China in 2008 and alumni are already stepping up to help.
Herb and Janice Wilson of Coralville, Iowa, kickstarted a $100,000 fundraising campaign for the historic trip with a $15,000 gift and are challenging alumni and friends of the band to step up quickly and help the band reach this goal.
The “All-American” Marching Band has been invited by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, to perform in the “Meet in Beijing International Arts and Music Festival.” They will leave May 26 and return June 2 and give at least three performances as part of the festivities leading up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. One performance is expected to be at the Great Wall of China.
Purdue’s invitation to perform in the festival is the first ever issued by the Ministry of Culture to an American college marching band, says director Jay Gephart.
“Both the band and the university have very strong reputations in China, which undoubtedly led to this invitation,” he adds.
Announcement of the trip and Wilson’s gift occurred at President’s Council pregame event on Oct. 6 in the Purdue Memorial Union.
Gephart says approximately 230 members of the 340-member marching band are expected to make the trip. The total cost is approximately $500,000, and the fund drive’s goal is to raise $100,000 of that amount. Participating band members will be expected to make up the difference.
Director Jay Gephart says his personal goal is to reach the $100,000 mark in a month and announce the drive’s successful completion at the Nov. 10 Michigan State game.
Purdue Bands has a long history of traveling to perform for audiences around the world. In addition to appearances at bowl games, its members have performed on cruises and in such places as South America, Europe, Japan, Iceland and Canada. The musicians were the first university band to play at Radio City Music Hall, where they performed twice.
Wilson, a retired executive, received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue in mechanical engineering in 1951and also earned a master's in business administration from the University of Chicago in 1959.
The Wilsons have been staunch supporters of the band and orchestra program. They currently endow stipends awarded annually to students leading various offices in the department. Wilson is the retired president and chief executive officer of Micro-Surface Finishing Products and is the current owner and president of Startups Unlimited Inc.
He received the President’s Council Distinguished Pinnacle Award in 2003 and was named the outstanding mechanical engineering alumnus in 2003. Besides Purdue Bands, Wilson and his wife Janice are longtime donors to the School of Mechanical Engineering, visual and performing arts, and athletics. They fund several scholarships, and the green room at Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts is named in their honor. The graduate student commons in the new Roger B. Gatewood Mechanical Engineering Wing will be named for them as well.
Parent and Alum China Tour Information
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