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Purdue Band Day floods field with color and pageantry
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
From Broadway hits like “Greased Lightnin’ ” to patriotic favorites like “America the Beautiful, Purdue’s annual “All-American” High School Band Day on Saturday, Sept. 20 samples the wide range of music bands love playing and Americans love hearing.
As Ishbah Cox, the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band’s newest assistant director, helps with plans for the massed band halftime show featuring nearly 1,700 performers it brings back memories.
Cox was in sixth grade when he performed at his first Band Day at Auburn University in Alabama in 1987. “I was in awe going into Jordan-Hare Stadium at Auburn, and to play the same music as the college band was just great.
“It’s an experience I’ll never forget. It really sparked an interest for me to continue with music after high school.”
Cox not only continued playing trombone, but ended up getting two degrees in music and teaching high school band in Tennessee and Indiana before joining Purdue’s faculty.
Now, as a music educator, he appreciates the win-win scenario set up by events like Band Day. “From the university’s perspective we have the opportunity to connect to high school groups and it allows the high school kids to be exposed to Purdue. It’s a nice connection all the way around.”
Part of the tradition of Purdue’s “All-American” Band Day has been to invite a veteran educator to serve as guest conductor. This year the honor goes to Gary Wishmeyer, longtime band director at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis. In retirement Wishmeyer is still in demand as a clinician and guest conductor around the country. A member of the Indiana Bandmasters Hall of Fame and former president of the Indiana School Music Association, he currently supervises student teachers in music education for Indiana University.
In preparation for Band Day, the high school bands work independently on the music to be performed at halftime. Early Saturday morning, Sept. 20, all the bands meet at Purdue’s drill field for an intensive rehearsal with Wishmeyer. At halftime, the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band warms up the crowd with a couple of quick tunes as the high school bands assemble on the sidelines.
When the high school bands enter the field, Ross-Ade will become a sea of musicians stretching from end zone to end zone for the massed bands’ performance of “Aztec Fire,” “Greased Lightnin’,” and a medley of “America the Beautiful” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”
Band Day Participants - Attica: Attica HS, Rodney Nees, director. Berne: South Adams HS, Curt Amstutz, director. Bloomfield: Bloomfield HS, Jeff Rockey, director. Bremen: Bremen HS, Matthew Sutton, director. Campbellsburg: West Washington HS, Sarah Atz, director. Churubusco: Churubusco HS, Mark A. Cheshier, director. Crown Point: Crown Point HS, Johann Stetto, director. Culver: Culver Community HS, Jason Crittendon, director. Delphi: Delphi Community HS, Jay Dennison, director. Frankfort: Frankfort HS, Dan Troyer, director. Indianapolis: Cathedral HS, Kathy McCullough, director. Lafayette: Faith Christian HS, Jack Heim, director; McCutcheon HS, Jack Holt and Jessica Beall, directors. Lebanon: Lebanon High School, Alan Conrad, director. Marion: Marion HS, Wayne Garrett, director. Marshall: Turkey Run HS, Annette Munoz, director. Montezuma: Riverton Parke HS, Mike Hardesty, director. Oxford: Benton Central HS, Pete Frasso, director. Peru: Peru HS, Diane Haley. Rochester: Rochester HS, Barry Frisinger, director. Tipton: Tipton HS, R. D. Fletcher, director. Valparaiso: Boone Grove High School, Daniel Zeigner, director; Wheeler HS, Jon VanPatten, director; Washington/Morgan Township HS, Justin Thompson, director. West Lafayette: Wm. Henry Harrison HS, Steve Cotton and Doug Koleszar, directors; West Lafayette HS, Matt Conaway, director; West Lebanon: Seeger HS, Dan Peo and Pam Kincade, directors. Wheatfield: Kankakee Valley HS, Ken Steidle, director.
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