Purdue University Director of Bands Awarded Sagamore of the Wabash

The Purdue Bands & Orchestras Awards Banquet takes place at the end of each semester, recognizing student accomplishments and awarding many unique scholarships. The Fall 2019 Awards Banquet on Sunday, November 24 began with a special surprise. Professor Jay Gephart, Director and Al G. Wright Chair of Purdue Bands & Orchestras was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash – one of the highest honors in the State of Indiana. Purdue University President Mitch Daniels presented the award on behalf of the Governor of Indiana, Eric Holcomb. Gephart received the award in recognition of his dedication to excellence and the impact he has had throughout the state.


In addition, State Representative and loyal Purdue alumna, Sheila Klinker, presented Gephart with a golden Seal of the State of Indiana celebrating his 25 years as a faculty member with Purdue Bands & Orchestras.


The Sagamore of the Wabash award was created during the term of Governor Ralph Gates, who served from 1945 to 1949. The term “sagamore” was used by the American Indian Tribes of the northeastern United States to describe a lesser chief or a great man among the tribe to whom the true chief would look for wisdom and advice. It is a personal tribute usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor. Among those who have received Sagamores have been astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, politicians, and ordinary citizens who have contributed greatly to our Hoosier heritage.


Purdue “All-American” Marching Band Celebrates Halloween Tradition

The Purdue “All-American” Marching Band will celebrate an exciting band tradition during their daily rehearsal time on *Thursday, October 31. Every year for Halloween, the entire band dresses up in coordinating costumes within each rank. Hundreds of kids from the community line Third Street with their families to watch the band parading to rehearsal in unique costumes. Once the band has arrived at the rehearsal field, the faculty and staff will select their favorite costumes.

The band will step off from Elliott Hall of Music at 3:30pm and march down Third Street to Hull Field, directly across from Shreve Hall. The band will then rehearse at the field and step off around 5:15pm to return to Elliott at 5:30pm. All are welcome to watch the band’s parade and rehearsal.

*In the case of inclement weather on October 31, the Halloween Rehearsal will be moved to Friday, November 1. Check for updates on the Purdue Bands & Orchestras Facebook page later in the week. 

Purdue Twirling Takes Home National Titles

The Purdue University Twirling program continued its long tradition of excellence this summer, winning multiple titles at the 2019 USA Twirling Championships. The twirlers competed in multiple team and individual events during the last week of July at the University of Notre Dame.

With their Space-themed show honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing, the Purdue Twirlers were named 2019 Grand National Collegiate Halftime Show Team Champions. The team featured a combination of the All-American Twirling Team and all five Purdue Solo Twirlers including the Golden Girl, Girl-in-Black, Miss Boilerette, and the Silver Twins. Along with this prestigious title, the twirlers were also awarded with a scholarship.

In addition to the team’s success, Golden Girl Kaitlyn Schleis was named the 2019 Grand National Collegiate Solo Champion. Kaitlyn competed against more than one hundred collegiate participants from all across the country. Her performance featured twirling to Purdue’s fight songs and some of the crowd-favorite tunes played by the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band in Ross-Ade Stadium every football season. She was awarded the $2500 Susan Dailey Orr Scholarship in conjunction with her national title.

With these national titles, Purdue Twirling continues to be one of the most storied twirling programs in the country. Fans can watch the National Champion Purdue Twirlers with the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band at their End-of-Camp performance at 7:30pm on August 17 at Hull Field.

The USA Twirling Championships, also known as American Youth on Parade (AYOP), were hosted by the National Baton Twirling Association.

New Artist-in-Residence Joins Purdue Bands & Orchestras

Dr. David Blon will join Purdue Bands & Orchestras in a one-year position as Artist-in-Residence beginning in August 2019. David received his Bachelor of Music at Slippery Rock University, his Master of Music at Youngstown State University, and his Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. Prior to pursuing his doctoral degree, David was Director of the University of Hawai’i Symphonic Band and the “Rainbow Warrior” Marching Band. Most recently, he served as the Graduate Teaching and Conducting Assistant for the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. For the past three summers, he was the Ensemble Manager for the World Youth Wind Symphony at Interlochen Center for the Arts. His professional experience and academic success will provide a wealth of knowledge as he works with the students in Purdue Bands & Orchestras.

As Artist-in-Residence, David will live in Shreve Hall, where the Purdue Bands & Orchestras Learning Communities are also housed. His responsibilities will include assisting in the daily operations of the Purdue concert band program, coaching and directing various chamber ensembles, serving as the primary conductor for one concert band in the fall and spring, assisting with the Purdue Wind Ensemble in the fall and spring semesters, and coordinating and implementing programming in cooperation with University Residences. The 2019-2020 academic year will be the first time in recent history Purdue Bands & Orchestras has hosted an Artist-in Residence.

The Artist-in-Residence program is one of the primary programs to fulfill the Residential Academic Initiatives at Purdue University. The Artist-in-Residence lives in the residential community for two important reasons:

  1. The integration of a faculty member in the community elevates the intellectual dialogue and civil discourse of the residential environment.
  2. The mentorships and relationships built between residents and faculty as part of this program are instrumental in increasing retention and graduation rates of students.

Please help us welcome Dr. David Blon to Purdue Bands & Orchestras.


Purdue Bands & Orchestras Names New Visiting Instructor

John Williams was hired to the Purdue Bands & Orchestras staff as a Visiting Instructor and will begin in August 2019. For two years previous, he served as the Director of Bands for the Linton-Stockton School Corporation. His program held 250 students grades 5-12 and offered concert bands, marching band, pep bands, and applied music classes. Concert bands under John’s direction consistently earned gold ratings at ISSMA organizational events, including a first-time gold with his 6th-grade band.

Previous to Linton-Stockton, John spent several years as a graduate assistant for the bands & orchestras programs at Purdue (’14-15, ’15-16) and Ball State (’16-17). His duties at both university programs included assistance with marching band, including the Purdue “All-American Marching Band”, focusing on woodwind section development, visual technique, and student leadership guidance, conducting university bands, playing in ensembles, and directing various athletic pep bands.

In addition to these positions, John has also been involved in Indiana high school marching band for 10 years, starting as a visual and woodwind tech for Pendleton Heights High School, continuing with similar duties at Lawrence Central, and serving as the music caption head for both Frankton and Eastern Greene marching bands. Under his musical guidance, the latter two groups earned top 16 positions in the Indiana State Fair Band Day competition, including Eastern Greene’s first time in the night show in the summer of 2018.

John Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Anderson University, where he worked as a student assistant to the band program. He student taught at Lawrence Central with cooperating teacher Matt James. While at AU, John earned several honors playing the clarinet, including an appearance as a concerto soloist and merits in music performance. In addition to clarinet, he has played tenor sax in various college and community jazz bands. In his free time, John enjoys going to stand-up comedy shows, building computers, and maintaining his saltwater fish tank.

Please join Purdue Bands & Orchestras in welcoming Visiting Instructor, John Williams.

Golden Silks Color Guard Coach Named

Purdue Bands & Orchestras is pleased to welcome Jef Furr as the new Golden Silks Color Guard Coach this upcoming season. Jef has played an integral role in many of the department’s travel opportunities and has a rich history in the performing arts.

Travel and music are always Jef’s choices for fun and adventure! A trombone player at Noblesville (IN) Middle School, Jef honed his talents and graduated from Ball State University with a B.S. in Music Education. While his sisters gravitated straight to travel careers (a flight attendant and Holland America Cruises representative), Jef taught for 16 years before working in student travel full-time.

After stints at North Miami (IN) and Alexandria-Monroe (IN) high schools, he moved to Southport High School in Indianapolis as Band Director and, later, Music Department Chair. Following 1986’s featured performance by Jef and the Southport Band in the classic film, “Hoosiers,” he realized a life-long dream as the band won the coveted 1987 Indiana State Fair Band Day Competition. He capped the year with the band’s performance in the 1987 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Parade in 1991 featured the Southport Band as the opening act, and in 1992, Jef’s Southport Winter Guard garnered first place in both Indiana’s and Winter Guard International’s annual competitions. His concert bands placed within the top eight in Indiana four times.

Once Jef assisted as a Tour Director for an Orange Bowl-bound band, nearly every school vacation thereafter found him guiding a student group throughout the USA or Europe. In 1994 he joined Music Travel Consultants full-time. Although he travels frequently, Jef still finds time to appear regularly as a trombonist at his church and in local theatre productions. Jef recently retired as Executive Vice President for Music Travel Consultants, Inc.

Jarrard Harris Named Clinical Assistant Professor of Bands

Purdue Bands & Orchestras is excited to welcome Jarrard Harris as the Clinical Assistant Professor of Bands. Harris will teach alongside Dr. Mo Trout in the Purdue Jazz department, in addition to a Jazz History class in the Purdue University College of Liberal Arts.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, saxophonist and educator Jarrard Harris attended the DuPont Manual/Youth Performing Arts School High School and attended the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music to pursue a degree in jazz studies. At CCM he studied with Rick VanMatre, Pat Harbison, and Marc Fields. Upon Graduation from CCM Harris moved to Chicago in 1998 to attend DePaul University where under the tutelage of Bob Lark, Tim Coffman, and Marc Colby he earned his master’s degree in jazz studies. Harris currently lives in Chicago, where he served on the jazz faculties of Northwestern University, Columbia College Chicago and the City Colleges of Chicago. He also serves as the director of jazz studies with the Chicago Public Schools Advanced Arts Education Program at Gallery 37.

He maintains an active private teaching studio in addition to serving as a director, clinician, guest artist and adjudicator at college and high school festivals, and state band festivals. He has performed in the United States and abroad at numerous jazz festivals and performed with jazz artists Jon Faddis Big Band, Barry Harris, Joe Magnarelli, Nicholas Payton, Joe Lovano, Claudia Acuna, Jimmy Heath, Brian Lynch, Antonio Hart, Bobby Watson, Benny Green, Eric Reed, Stefon Harris, The Chicago Jazz Ensemble, the Chicago Sinfonietta, Sean Jones, Sharel Cassity, Eric Alexander, and Johnny Griffin to name a few. He has performed at the Goodman and Court Theater in the musicals “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Five Guys Named Moe”.  Jarrard was a founding board member of the Jazz Education Network and serves as a current board member for the Jazz Institute of Chicago. Jarrard plays Vandoren saxophone Reeds and mouthpieces and is currently a Vandoren Performing Artist.


2019 – 2020 Golduster Dance Team Announced

After an extremely competitive audition process, the 2019-2020 Golduster Dance Team has been announced. The team welcomes 5 new members this year. Malaya Atisso is a high school senior at Harrison High School from West Lafayette, Indiana, and majoring in Development and Human Science. Jadin Benge is a Purdue freshman from Carmel, Indiana, and will be majoring in Biology with a concentration on Nursing. She attended Southport High School. Payton Fine is a high school senior at McCutcheon High School from Lafayette, Indiana, and will be majoring in Finance. Peyton James is a high school senior at IC Catholic Prep from Elmhurst, Illinois, and will be majoring in Anthropology. Julia Vogele is a high school senior at Archbishop McNicholas High School from Loveland, Ohio, and will be majoring in Data Science.

Returning members include Brittany Gallarneau, Kate Giglio, Ally Kiger, Rylee Madden, Emma McAlister, Hannah Ortman, Brittany Rogers, Sarah Sipe, Sophia Strain, Dayna Tanner, and Lauren Waddington.

New Twirlers Announced for 2019-2020 Purdue “All-American” Marching Band

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Kaitlyn Schleis of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, will serve for a second year as the 30th Purdue Golden Girl, continuing a tradition started in 1954 by Director of Bands Emeritus, Dr. Al G. Wright. On Saturday, March 2, her audition earned her one of the most iconic positions on Purdue’s campus. Schleis is a junior in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, and she has held the positions of Silver Twin, Girl-in-Black, and Golden Girl during her time at Purdue.

Current freshman, Amanda Coy of Saline, Michigan, will return as the Girl-in-Black. Coy began twirling in 2003 and twirled on a competitive team for 13 years. Coy is studying Political and Health Sciences.

For the second consecutive year, the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band will feature Miss Boilerette. Alicia Dennie, from Culver, Indiana, will return as Miss Boilerette for the upcoming season. Dennie is a sophomore majoring in Pre-Dental, and previously held the position of Silver Twin as a freshman. Miss Boilerette was originally part of the Purdue Twirling program during the 2010-2011 season.

Current freshman, Alexis Piskulic of Arnold, Missouri, and sophomore, Brooke Wyatt of LaFontaine, Indiana, will return next season as the iconic Silver Twins. Wyatt, who is majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management and minoring in Event and Meeting Management, is returning to her position as a Silver Twin for her third year. Piskulic, studying Political Science and Sociology with a minor in American Sign Language, will perform as one of the Silver Twins for her second season.

In addition, eight students were offered spots on the All-American Twirling Team as part of the Purdue Twirling program. They include returning twirlers, juniors Mackenzie Joefreda and Emma Schafer, sophomore Marin Parker, current freshmen Ashley Brazeau and Leah DePasquale, and incoming freshmen Marissa Grigora, Caroline Hawkins, and Alexa Tamburlin.

All twirlers and band members are required to audition for positions annually, and candidates must be admitted to Purdue University in order to qualify for auditions. We are thrilled to welcome our new team to Purdue this fall. They will make their debut performance on Saturday, August 17, when the 134th edition of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band takes the field for their End-Of-Camp Performance.

Clinical Professor of Bands Position Announcement

Purdue Bands & Orchestras has announced a new a faculty position. The Clinical Assistant Professor of Bands will have shared responsibilities for coordination of instruction in Purdue’s Jazz Department which is part of Purdue Bands & Orchestras in the College of Liberal Arts. To apply or find more information about the position, visit the link below:

Clinical Assistant Professor of Bands Position Description

Purdue Bands & Orchestras, 712 Third Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-0770

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