Students Recruited as Hagle Hall construction ambassadors

Purdue University continues to serve as a leader in transformative education, providing students with practical, hands-on experience in their field of study. This year, three students are taking their coursework into the real world as construction ambassadors for Hagle Hall – the new home of Purdue Bands & Orchestras.


Gilbane Building Co. hired Josh Fiore, Lucy Han, and Joey Martin as part of the overall construction team for the new state-of-the-art facility slated for completion in spring 2022. These students were selected from a pool of applicants to work closely alongside Gilbane Building Co. throughout the construction process and provide constituents with regular updates on the building’s progress. Through weekly meetings and tours of the facility, the students get an up-close look at the complex construction process with all its moving pieces. They not only learn about the process through hands-on experience, but also serve as active participants in promoting the new facility to alumni, donors, students, and fans of Purdue Bands & Orchestras.


This particular team of students all come from both the College of Engineering and Purdue Bands & Orchestras. Josh Fiore, a sophomore studying Construction Engineering Management, plays Baritone in the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band and Euphonium in Concert Band. Lucy Han, a junior in Computer Engineering, plays percussion in the spring concert bands and takes photos of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band at rehearsals and performances. Joey Martin, a senior in Civil Engineering, plays mellophone in the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band, Boiler Brass, and Boiler Box Band, and plays French Horn in Concert Band.



Hagle Hall

Thanks to a leadership gift from Marc and Sharon Hagle and through the generosity of many Purdue Bands & Orchestras friends, the 133-year-old, internationally recognized department will move out of the cramped Elliott Hall of Music basement—a space the program has long outgrown—and into a brand-new, 37,000-square-foot facility in the heart of campus. Make a gift today to Hagle Hall.

Purdue Bands & Orchestras Selects Golduster Dance Team Coach

Natalie Hess will serve as the Purdue University Golduster Dance Team Coach beginning in the fall 2021 season. Hess performed as an Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader for eight straight seasons between 2008 and 2016, including four seasons as Team Captain. In addition to representing the Colts organization at events across the country and world, she cheered at all home football games as well as Super Bowl XLIV, and received the highest honor a Colts Cheerleader can receive, representing the organization at the Pro Bowl. Hess also worked as a Dance Instructor and Choreographer for The Dance Refinery in Indianapolis, and coached the Dance Team at Decatur Central High School.

Founded in 1980, the Golduster Dance Team performs with the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band at all home football games and at various other University events. The Goldusters perform many styles from pom, to hip-hop and jazz. More than just dancers, the team consists of hard working individuals in a variety of majors who come together to share their passion for dance. The Golduster Dance Team practices 5 days a week in the fall with the “All-American” Marching Band and practices twice a week during the spring semester. The team travels with the band to one away football game each season and may perform during Bowl Games and international tours with the band as well. The Golduster Dance Team is curricular, which earns members college credit for participating.

The 2021-22 Goldusters will make their debut performance under Coach Natalie Hess on Saturday, August 21 in the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band End-of-Camp concert.


Coach Joy McEwen Departs Purdue Bands & Orchestras Following 8-Year Legacy

After eight years as Director of Auxiliaries and Golduster Dance Team Coach, Mrs. Joy McEwen is retiring from Purdue Bands & Orchestras prior to the fall semester. She held the position since 2013.

McEwen came to the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band after a long career as a professional modern dancer in New York City, where she performed and toured internationally and domestically with several dance companies. Among these were the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, Nancy Meehan Dance Company, LifeDance/Gloria McLean, Valerie Green Dance Entropy, and a company she co-founded, The Wellspring Project (Dance).

With the “All-American” Marching Band, McEwen most enjoyed traveling to Colombia and Ireland, performing at the Indy 500 and two bowl games. Coach Joy is credited with restructuring the spring semester course for all the auxiliaries and reviving the All-American Twirling Team. She is especially grateful to all the Goldusters for their dedication, professionalism, and effort in each and every performance.

Please join us in thanking Coach Joy McEwen for her dedication and eight years of service to Purdue Bands & Orchestras!

Dr. David Blon Joins Purdue Bands & Orchestras Faculty

Dr. David Blon will join Purdue Bands & Orchestras this fall as a Clinical Assistant Professor. Blon recently served as Artist-in-Residence for the department during the 2019-2020 academic year. He 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, Blon was Director of the University of Hawai’i Symphonic Band and the “Rainbow Warrior” Marching Band. He also served as the Graduate Teaching and Conducting Assistant for the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. For three summers, he was the Ensemble Manager for the World Youth Wind Symphony at Interlochen Center for the Arts. Most recently, Blon was the Director of Athletic Bands at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

“We could not be more thrilled to have David joining our faculty here at Purdue,” remarked Jay Gephart, Director and Al G. Wright Chair of Purdue Bands & Orchestras. “His professional experience and academic success will be so meaningful in providing special opportunities for our students. We are so fortunate to work with him again and welcome him back to the Purdue Bands & Orchestras family.”

As Clinical Assistant Professor, Dr. Blon will direct various concert bands and teach classes in the College of Liberal Arts.

2021-22 Golduster Dance Team Selected

After an extremely competitive audition process, the 2021-22 Golduster Dance Team has been selected. The team welcomes four new members this year. Paighton Derrick is a senior at Morton High School from Morton, Illinois, majoring in Nursing. Emma Hawkins is a senior at Harrison High School from Delphi, Indiana, majoring in Exploratory Studies. Hannah Karczewski is a senior at Penn High School from Granger, Indiana, majoring in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. Myana Pace is a senior at Center Grove High School from Greenwood, Indiana, majoring in Communications.


Returning members include Malaya Atisso, Elena Eberwine, Payton Fine, Anna Foster, Peyton James, Kendall Johnson, Ally Kiger, Arisa Kulkani, Rylee Madden, Kaitlyn Murphy, Natsume Narasaki, Hannah Ortman, Brittany Rogers, Sophia Strain, Julia Vogele, Ashlyn Waddington, and Amber Wentz. Congratulations to all of the members of the 2021-22 Golduster Dance Team!

New Twirlers Selected for 2021-22 Purdue “All-American” Marching Band

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Amanda Coy of Saline, MI will perform for a second consecutive year as the 31st Purdue Golden Girl, continuing a tradition started by Director of Bands Emeritus, Dr. Al G. Wright in 1954. On Saturday, March 27, her audition earned her one of the most iconic positions on Purdue’s campus. Coy, who began twirling when was just three years old, is currently a junior studying Pre-PA/Health Sciences and held the position of Girl-in-Black during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.


Haley Aiken will return for her second consecutive year in the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band as the Girl-in-Black. She is currently a freshman majoring in Psychology. Aiken is from Jeannette, PA and has been competing both individually and on a team since 2008.


For her senior year, Alexis Piskulic of Arnold, MO will perform as the third ever Miss Boilerette. Currently a junior studying Political Science and Sociology, Piskulic has held the position of Silver Twin for the past three years after beginning to twirl when she was ten years old. Miss Boilerette was originally part of the Purdue Twirling program during the 2009-2010 season.


The Purdue “All-American” Marching Band is pleased to welcome incoming freshmen, Emily Cowette of Londonderry, NH and Katie Harris of Windsor, CO as the 2021-22 Silver Twins. Cowette will major in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and is a feature twirler with the Londonderry High School Lancer Marching Band. Harris will be in Exploratory Studies and is a current member of the M Twirling Team.


In addition, nine students were offered spots on the All-American Twirling Team to round out the Purdue Twirling program. They include returning twirlers, juniors Ashley Brazeau and Leah DePasquale, sophomores Caroline Hawkins and Iman Mevaa, current freshmen Alexa Lytle and Jack Matthews, and incoming freshmen Emma Alexander, Alana Diedrick, and Georgia Langston.

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 21, when the 136th edition of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band takes the field for their End-Of-Camp Performance.

Homecoming 2021 Update

Celebrating 100 Years of the World’s Largest Drum at Homecoming 2021
Full Alumni Band Reunion Moved to Fall 2022

Purdue University’s iconic World’s Largest Drum turns 100 years old this fall. The Purdue “All-American” Marching Band will celebrate this historic anniversary by welcoming our Big Bass Drum Crew alumni back to campus during Homecoming weekend (October 1-2, 2021). Participating Drum Crew alumni will play an integral part of the celebration as the century-old, University icon is featured throughout the weekend. Additional details will be announced in the summer pending new guidelines for fall events and campus visitors.

There remains uncertainty on how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may affect a number of campus activities in the fall, such as football games and large alumni events. Due to this uncertainty, Purdue Bands & Orchestras has moved the full Alumni Band Reunion back one year to Homecoming of fall 2022. This biannual reunion consistently welcomes over 500 alumni from across the country to perform together and reconnect with close friends. While we are saddened to delay this exciting reunion for one year, we believe it will ultimately allow more of our alumni to be part of the special Purdue Alumni Band tradition in a safe and healthy way. The full Alumni Band will pick up its every other year pattern starting at that time (2022, 2024, etc.). We look forward to hosting our largest ever Alumni Band weekend during Homecoming 2022 in what will be our brand-new home, Hagle Hall.

Drum Majors Selected for Purdue “All-American” Marching Band’s 2021-22 Season

Following a demanding audition process, the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band announced last weekend that Lorin Nugent and Jonathan Heidegger will serve as the Drum Majors for the 2021-22 season. The two will lead the Band to carry on its tradition of excellence through athletic events and thrilling performances.

Lorin is a senior from Champaign, IL majoring in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. He has played tenor drums and served as a student leader and Drum Major in the AAMB. He also plays flute in the Purdue Wind Ensemble.

Jonathan is a junior from Brownsburg, IN majoring in Computer Science with a minor in German. He has played Tenor Saxophone in the Purdue Wind Ensemble, Boiler Brass, and AAMB.

As the AAMB celebrates this appointment, the Band also wishes their outgoing Drum Major, Torey Caldwell, all the best as she begins a very successful career following graduation in May. Stay tuned at for further updates on the Fall 2021 season for the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band.




Purdue Mourns Loss of Legendary Band Director

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University’s second Director of Bands, former Director of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band, and Director of Bands Emeritus, Dr. Al G. Wright, passed away on September 5th in his home in West Lafayette, Indiana.  Dr. Wright was 104 years old.

By 1954, Purdue University already had seven university presidents, but only one Director of Bands, Paul “Spotts” Emrick. When Dr. Al G. Wright took the position of Director of Bands in the summer of 1954, he brought a new level of showmanship to the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band and to all of Purdue’s concert bands and ensembles.

A six-year-old immigrant to the United States from London, England, Wright excelled as a musician throughout school with his primary instrument being the French horn. His high school band director was Dale Harris, founder of the American School Band Directors Association (ASBDA). Wright attended the University of Miami in Florida on a full scholarship. Upon graduation, Wright earned his master’s degree from the University of Miami while teaching music at Miami Senior High School, a program he led to national prominence. His Miami Senior High School Band performed at the prestigious Midwest Clinic in 1951.

Upon Emrick’s retirement at Purdue, composer Harold L. Walters, familiar with Wright’s high school band performances, recommended to Purdue Trustee J. Ralph Thompson that Wright would be perfect as the next Director of Bands at Purdue.  Wright accepted the position and never looked back.

In an interview with former Vice President and Treasurer, the late R. B. Stewart, Stewart commented, “Al was a showman. He knew how to use the band for the betterment of the university. The only way you could get anywhere was to use the band as a showpiece. He could do it. And he did do it. Al put life in the Purdue band program. He made it into real theater, a show, an attractive thing.”

During his time at Purdue, Wright is credited for adding auxiliaries to the marching band, including the positions of the Golden Girl, Girl-in-Black, and Silver Twins, as well as the Flag Corps and the Golduster Dance Team. It was Wright’s philosophy that a marching band should have “a lot going on during a performance” and that the band should “play to all sections of the audience throughout the stadium.” It was Wright who started the stirring patriotic tradition of “I Am An American” which is still performed by the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band during pre-game shows at Ross Ade Stadium.

For the Symphonic Band, Wright brought in well-known musicians as guest conductors including Arthur Fiedler from the Boston Pops Orchestra, Leroy Anderson, Edwin Franko Goldman, Ferde Grofe and Sir Vivian Dunn. When Paul Lavalle was guest conductor for the band, the concert was aired on Lavalle’s NBC radio show “Band of America.” The show brought national recognition not only to the band program, but to Purdue’s academic programs as well, especially when Purdue President Frederick L. Hovde was interviewed on the air.

In 1971, Wright also initiated the orchestra program at Purdue, serving as its conductor for several years.  He also started a Renaissance ensemble that performed for many campus functions.

During Wright’s tenure, Purdue ensembles made numerous international tours: two to Colombia; seven to Venezuela; a three-week tour of Japan; a two-week featured appearance at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Canada; and a three-week tour of Europe. Under Wright’s leadership, members of Purdue marching band also appeared in four separate productions at Radio City Music Hall for a total of 664 performances during their summer breaks.

In 1954 Wright was one of the founding members of the Florida chapter of the American School Band Directors Association (ASBDA), and in 1961 he founded the National Band Association (NBA), serving as its founding president, secretary-treasurer, and then (2000) honorary life president. He was also inducted into the NBA Band Directors Hall of Fame located at Troy University in Alabama, the Florida Bandmasters Hall of Fame and the University of Miami Band Hall of Fame.

His creative efforts helped the president of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) establish the MENC high school honor band, which appeared at several MENC conventions and at the Kennedy Center.  In 1978, Wright assisted former conductor of the United States Air Force Band, Colonel George Howard, in the development of the John Philip Sousa Society, which eventually became the John Phillip Sousa Foundation. With Wright’s leadership, the John Philip Sousa Foundation dedicated its work to the promotion of international understanding through the medium of band music. Professor Wright served as the Foundation’s President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board.

Al Wright also founded the United States Collegiate Wind Bands, which gave high school students the opportunity to travel, playing concerts in various locations in Europe, including performances in Belgium, Holland, France, Germany and Italy under some of the nation’s finest guest conductors.

Wright was president of numerous band organizations and served on many Boards of Directors including the Florida Bandmasters Association (1948-49); Florida Orchestra Association (1941-42, 1949-50); Florida Music Educators Association (1946); North American Band Conductors Coordinating Commission (1975-76); National Interscholastic Music Activities Commission (1958); Big Ten Band Directors National Association (1977). He held memberships in the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), the International Music Festivals, and was a member of the Jury for World Music Festivals in Kerkrade, Holland. Wright was elected to membership in the American Bandmasters Association (ABA) in 1949.  His primary sponsor was march composer, Henry Fillmore.  Wright served as ABA president in 1981 and as Honorary Life President until his death.

Numerous fraternal organizations honored Wright with honorary memberships: Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Beta Mu, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He was elected to the Academy of Wind and Percussive Arts National Hall of Fame of Distinguished Conductors, and received the Star of the Order of Merit from the Sousa Foundation. Kappa Kappa Psi presented him with their Distinguished Service Medal, and in 1982, Purdue University awarded him the Distinguished Alumnus Award. In addition, he was the recipient of an honorary LLD degree from Troy State University in 1981. In 2016, both Al and Gladys Stone Wright were awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by the Midwest Clinic.  Dr. Wright also was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the international band fraternity, Phi Beta Mu.

Wright served as guest conductor, lecturer, and adjudicator in most of the 50 states, in five Canadian provinces, in Japan, Europe, and England. He is listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World. In 2003, Professor Wright was honored by Purdue University band alumni when a bust of his likeness was placed outside the Elliott Hall of Music next to the entrance to Purdue Bands.  The Purdue Bands & Orchestras department chair position is named for Al G. Wright.  His legacy will be remembered for generations to come in the Al G. Wright Rehearsal Hall within the new home for Purdue Bands & Orchestras – Hagle Hall.

Jay Gephart, current Director of Bands and Al G. Wright Chair of Purdue Bands & Orchestras said this of Al G. Wright upon his death – “His was a life well lived.  His legacy at Purdue is unparalleled and our University owes Al Wright a tremendous debt of gratitude for all he did to shape the future of Purdue Bands.  He and his wife Gladys together have done so much for the entire band profession.  His loss is felt not only in West Lafayette but throughout the world.  I will miss my friend Al G. Wright.”

Fall Sports Season Postponed – How it Impacts Purdue Bands & Orchestras Activities

On Tuesday, August 11, the Big Ten Conference announced the postponement of all fall sports for 2020. The announcement directly affects two Purdue Bands & Orchestras ensembles, including Boiler Box Band, which supports Purdue Women’s Volleyball, and the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band.  With the postponement of the volleyball season, the extracurricular Boiler Box Band will not meet this fall. The Purdue “All-American” Marching Band, which meets as a class at Purdue University, will continue to rehearse during the fall despite the postponement of all football games.


The health and safety of students, faculty, and staff remains the top priority for the department. Every ensemble in Purdue Bands & Orchestras will adhere to the guidelines of the Protect Purdue Pledge.  The marching band will rehearse exclusively outside and will meet in smaller platoons to meet safety and social distancing requirements throughout the semester. The “All-American” Marching Band will wear protective masks for the entirety of every rehearsal and performance. Wind players will receive uniquely designed masks, allowing students to play instruments while keeping their faces covered.  All brass instruments will be outfitted with bell covers as well.  All marching drill will be designed to meet social distance requirements.


The “All-American” Marching Band will livestream selected performances and make recordings throughout the fall semester, bringing the spirit of Purdue to the University, Purdue alumni and friends, and to our local community.


The Purdue “All-American” Marching Band was founded in 1886, one year before Purdue University had a football team. For more than 130 years, the band has served the Purdue community with its innovative performances, spreading the Boilermaker spirit across the globe. The fall semester will be so different without the excitement and passion of Purdue Football games. The Purdue “All-American” Marching Band will move forward though, seeking out safe opportunities to lift the spirits of the Purdue family during this challenging time.


As the situation changes, Purdue Bands & Orchestras will continue to make decisions in cooperation with Purdue University, and local and state governments.


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