Purdue Band Day packs musicians from end zone to end zone
Thirty-one high school marching bands from across Indiana 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. 15.
Look for the Eastern Michigan Eagles to be far outnumbered that Saturday – and not just by Boilermakers. Cougars, Tigers, Zebras, Giants, Thunderbirds, Bearcats, Cavaliers, Trojans and more will fill the stadium as scores of musicians and auxiliary members pack the annual Purdue event.
The 2012 event is the biggest in more than a decade. “Looking out on the field and seeing 2,000 performers will be pretty impressive,” says Matt Conaway, Band Day Coordinator and Purdue Band’s newest faculty member.
Pop music with student appeal – “Raise Your Glass” by Pink! and “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga - will be performed by the Purdue Band to start the halftime show. When everyone’s on the field, the massed bands will perform a rousing rendition of the classic TV theme song from “Gunsmoke” under the baton of guest director Keith Rudolph. Rudolph, who recently retired from Penn High School, is a veteran and highly esteemed Indiana director from Mishawaka.
The show also features the auxiliary units of all the schools in the theme from “Peter Gunn.” It closes with “America On Parade,” combining stirring arrangements of “America” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Each band’s already rehearsed those tunes dozens of times before coming to Purdue. Prior to the game, Rudolph brings all the bands together on Purdue’s drill field to finesse the sound at a final rehearsal before entering Ross-Ade Stadium.
Conaway brought his former high school band to Purdue Band Day, and has memories of going with his band, as a high school student, to a Band Day at Eastern Michigan University. “It was my first college football game and I remember it as being a fun experience,” he says.
The experience remains much the same today. “For most of them, this is their first time to be in a strong intercollegiate athletic environment and nothing compares to that,” Conaway says. “The opportunity to stand next to the Purdue Band and to perform with them, not as a warm up act, that’s really special.”
Along with the stadium performances, the Purdue Band also presents “Thrill on the Hill,” a concert and pep rally at 10 a.m. at Slayter Center on Sept. 15, and invites fans to follow them back to the Hovde Hall fountain following the game for its final performance of game day and the traditional drum major breakdown.
2012 PURDUE BAND DAY PARTICIPANTS