Indy 500 Legend & friend of Purdue “All-American” Marching Band, Jim Nabors, Dies at 87

The Purdue “All-American” Marching Band lost a very dear friend today. Jim Nabors was arguably the most historic figure of the Indianapolis 500 since 1972. In 2014, Nabors sang Back Home Again in Indiana in the pre-race festivities for his 36th and final time. The Purdue “All-American” Marching Band had the incredible honor to accompany him on the famous song year after year. Thanks for the memories Jim! You will be dearly missed.

For more information on the life, accomplishments, and legacy of Jim Nabors, visit

Purdue University Director of Bands selected as Music Educator Award Winner

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN – The Indiana Music Education Association announces Jay Gephart, Al G. Wright Chair and Director of Bands at Purdue University, as the 2018 Outstanding Collegiate Music Educator of the Year. This award is given to those who have exemplified outstanding achievement in the field of music education at the collegiate level.

Jay S. Gephart joined the faculty of Purdue University in the fall of 1995 after completing twelve years as a public school band director. In November 2006, Professor Gephart was appointed Director of University Bands and currently serves as the Al G. Wright Chair of Purdue Bands and Orchestras. He is the director of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band and the Purdue University Wind Ensemble. Gephart currently holds the position of Vice President and Treasurer of the John Philip Sousa Foundation and serves on the American Bandmaster’s Association Board of Directors. He also is the current President of Indiana’s chapter of the band fraternity, Phi Beta Mu.

IMEA will present the award in January at their annual Professional Development Conference in Fort Wayne, IN.

For more information about the IMEA Awards, visit

Caitlin Benner Joins Staff as Recruitment and Communications Specialist

Caitlin Benner has been selected as the Recruitment and Communications Specialist for Purdue Bands & Orchestras.

Benner is a 2012 graduate of Purdue University’s Brian Lamb School of Communication with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication/Human Relations.  While an undergraduate, Caitlin was a featured vocalist for four years with the Purdue Jazz Band and Jazz Combo. In 2009, she completed a Disney College Program Internship, making magic through impeccable guest service at the Emporium on Main Street, USA in the Magic Kingdom.  While at Disney, Caitlin also completed ACE courses in Marketing and Public Relations at Disney University.  In 2012,​​​​ she was honored to represent Purdue Bands & Orchestras as the Sudler Prize for the Arts award winner, proudly receiving the recognition from Purdue University’s eleventh President, France A. Córdova, at commencement.


After graduation, Caitlin has continued her participation in the local music community by performing as a vocalist with Lafayette’s Big Swing Band, in roles for Civic Theater of Greater Lafayette and Heartland Productions, and in guest vocalist appearances with the Lafayette Citizen’s Band.  Through her customer service work as a representative of Quinlan & Fabish Music Company, she has coordinated with area school music directors to support seamless participation by students and parents in local band and orchestra programs. Caitlin has also created social media content for various clients including: Greyhouse Coffee, Hot House Market, Treasures Untold Trove, the Lala, and DizRadio – a Disney on Demand podcast.  She and her husband Caleb, who performed together in PJB, just celebrated their fifth anniversary and live in Lafayette with their fearsome cat Giselle.

Trudy Guthrie Selected as Assistant Director of Development and Donor Relations

Trudy Guthrie has been selected as the Assistant Director of Development and Donor Relations – Student Life.

Trudy started in Development ten years ago as the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Advancement in the College of Engineering. Since then, she has held positions in Principal Gifts/Donor Relations and Campaign Programs, President’s Council, and most recently Annual Giving and Stewardship where she has been responsible for coordinating the central stewardship efforts. She recently earned her BS in Organizational Leadership from Purdue Polytechnic Institute and also holds an Associate Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the College of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue. She is proud to be in the middle of a three generation Purdue family. Her dad was a Mechanical Engineering alumnus (and a trombone player in the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band), and three of her children hold Purdue degrees (Communication, Animal Science and Food Science).

In her new role, Trudy will be helping the many loyal constituents of Purdue Bands & Orchestras advance their philanthropic interests as well as manage donor relations for the department. She will be reporting to the Director of Advancement for Student Life, and will be part of the team advancing Purdue Student Life’s overall philanthropic strategy.

When asked what she liked most about working in development she said, “Hearing different Purdue stories from alumni and building relationships with those alumni have been the highlights of my career so far, and I’m looking forward to getting to know the alumni who have been so passionate about their experiences in Purdue Bands & Orchestras.”

Director of External Relations Appointed to Staff

Aaron Yoder has been appointed to Director of External Relations for Purdue Bands & Orchestras. Yoder will organize and implement all activities related to public relations and alumni relations.

Aaron Yoder is a 2017 graduate of the Krannert School of Management. He received his Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Management along with a certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He is a former member of the “All-American” Marching Band, the Purdue Wind Ensemble, and the Purdue Jazz program. During his time in Purdue Bands & Orchestras, Aaron was an ambassador on the Student Life Team and performed at Carnegie Hall with the Wind Ensemble. As a student at Purdue, Aaron served as an Admissions Ambassador, giving tours of Purdue’s campus to prospective students, their parents, and alumni. He also worked as a Marketing and Communications intern for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Indianapolis 500 Weekend, Purdue “All-American” Marching Band

Marching in the footsteps of 98 years of band students preceding them, members of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band will take center stage at the Indianapolis 500 events set to take place this weekend.

For the first time, the band will have performing groups in two locations for the ceremonial music prior to the race on Sunday, May 28. Accompaniment will be provided for two songs this year, with students being positioned in front of the Pagoda for God Bless America and Turn 1 for Back Home Again in Indiana.

Each year Purdue invites bands across the Midwest to participate in a separate parade of bands, which occurs at the racetrack on the day of the race. This year, 10 high school bands from two states will be participating.

It was the marching band’s first director, Paul Spotts Emrick, who forged the initial relationship with the Indianapolis 500 in 1919, and the band has played for the opening ceremonies at the track every running of the 500 since that time.

The public’s first glimpse of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band will take place on Saturday, May 27, when the band participates in the IPL 500 Festival Parade themed “Accelerating the American Spirit” which will honor the history and tradition of innovation, patriotism, and pride of the community. The 500 Festival Parade was added to the race month activities in 1957 and the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band has appeared in every parade since its creation. A crowd in excess of 300,000 is expected to be in attendance with another one million watching from their televisions. The Parade will be telecast locally on WTHR, Channel 13 and nationally on NBC Sports Network.

Purdue Philharmonic & Symphony Orchestras Showcase

On Sunday, April 23 at 2:30pm in Elliott Hall of Music, the orchestral section of the Showcase concert weekend will feature both orchestras alongside guest conductor Dan Whisler and guest pianist Keith Teepen.


Dan Whisler is currently Director of Orchestras at the Youth Performing Arts School in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, and the Conductor of the New World Youth Philharmonic Orchestra in Indianapolis, Indiana. Prior to moving to Kentucky, he was the Director of Orchestras at Center Grove Community School Corporation in Greenwood, Indiana, Founding and Principal Conductor with Intimate Opera of Indianapolis, and served on the faculty of the String Quartet Program of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado.

Mr. Whisler has conducted over 450 works with over 65 ensembles, including professional orchestras in the USA, England, Spain, Lithuania, Hungary, and Romania. His awards as a conductor include the Downbeat Award in 2011 for Best U.S. College Classical Ensemble (conducting Hallfter’s Tiento del primer tono y batalla imperial), the Bel Canto Award for Excellence in Conducting, and winner of the 2015 American Prize in Conducting.

An active supporter of new music, Mr. Whisler has premiered 30 works, both as a conductor and as a performer, including conducting the world premiere of the Celtic ballet, Diedre of the Sorrows. He is comfortable with opera and musical theatre literature as well, having been on the conducting staff with Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Cosi fan tutte, Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, and numerous opera scenes concerts for the University of Northern Colorado Opera Theatre, Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd for Theater Workshop of Owensboro (Kentucky), Holst’s Savitri and Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Intimate Opera of Indianapolis, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado and Purcell’s The Fairy Queen with the YPAS music department.

An experienced educator, Mr. Whisler has worked with youth orchestras in Kansas, Colorado, New York, Indiana, and Kentucky (USA). At Center Grove, he increased orchestra student enrollment by over 37 percent and won 17 ISSMA Gold awards in three years. Under his direction, the YPAS Philharmonia was selected to perform in the 2015 Music for All National Orchestra Festival, the 2016 Kentucky Music Educators Association Conference, and the 2017 Chicago Heritage Festival. He graduated summa cum laude with a BME from Wichita State University (Kansas) and earned an MM in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Northern Colorado. His primary conducting teachers include Russell Guyver and Mark Laycock, with additional studies at conducting institutes in Colorado, Oregon, Maryland, and Europe with internationally-renowned mentors, including Jorma Panula, Craig Kirchhoff, Markand Thakar, Colin Metters, and Larry Livingston.


Pianist Keith Teepen has performed in Europe, Asia, South America, and throughout North America. He has collaborated with many of today’s important artists including: famous trumpeter, Tine Thing Helseth, internationally renowned euphonium virtuoso, Adam Frey, tuba virtuoso, Marty Erickson, and internationally renowned trombonist, Scott Hartman.  Keith has taught on the piano faculty at Pró-Música Music Festival in Juiz de Fora, Brazil and the International Music Camp at the Peace Garden.

After earning a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from DePauw University School of Music, he received a scholarship to study with Gerald Stofsky in Vienna, Austria. While working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, Keith received his Master of Music degree in piano performance from the University of North Dakota. He has studied under Nariaki Sugiura, May Phang, and Claude Cymerman. Keith has held collaborative piano positions at DePauw University School of Music, Summer Vocal Arts at DePauw, and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Keith stays active as a soloist, chamber musician, and collaborative pianist performing throughout the United States and internationally.  Recent and upcoming concerts include performances in Jacksonville, FL, Houston, TX, as well as Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto at Purdue University in Lafayette, IN.  In the fall, Keith will be performing a series of joint recitals with pianist, Nariaki Sugiura.  Together they will perform solo and duo repertoire in major cities across Asia, including: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and Xiamen.

Keith is currently on the faculty of the University of North Dakota as a Piano Instructor/Collaborative Pianist.

Purdue “All-American” Marching Band Announces 2017-18 Drum Majors

Following a lengthy and demanding audition process, the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band is pleased to announce the Drum Majors for the 2017-18 season, Loretta Trezza and Robert Steele, who will lead the band into another great year of athletic events, travel opportunities, and thrilling performances.

Returning for her third year as a Purdue “All-American” Marching Band Drum Major is Loretta Trezza, a rising senior from Middletown, NJ (Middletown High School South).  She currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina. As a freshman, Loretta marched snare drum in the Purdue Drumline.   She is majoring in Law and Society.  “Being named a drum major for the third time has been an absolutely incredible honor. It means that I get to continue to serve as a leader and as an ambassador for the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band and Purdue University. Finally, it means that I get to welcome Purdue freshmen into the band that I’ve called home for the past three years in hopes that they have an incredible experience like I’ve had here.”

Entering his first season as a Purdue “All-American” Marching Band Drum Major is Robert Steele, a rising senior from Lapel, IN (Lapel High School).  Robert has been a member of the trombone section and served on this past season’s leadership team.  He is majoring in Construction Management Technology. “Being named drum major means the world to me. This is a position I have been chasing since freshman year and my hard work and commitment has finally paid off. This is another reminder to myself to never give up on your dreams despite failure not only once but twice. As I am overwhelmed with joy, I think back to all the individuals who have invested their time and talents into my passion for music and I am sure I have made them proud with my opportunity to lead such a great group of people.”

Professor Matthew R. Conaway oversees the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band Drum Majors and is very enthusiastic about the upcoming season with Trezza and Steele.  “I am extremely proud of Loretta and Robert for the incredibly hard work they have put into this process, as well as the way they have always led from within the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band.  Band members and fans alike will really enjoy watching this team work together next season!”

As the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band celebrates the appointment of these two leaders, the band also wishes outgoing Drum Major Cameron Hein all the best as he prepares for his graduation from Purdue this May with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

The first public performance for the new Drum Majors is on Saturday, August 19, when the 132nd edition of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band takes the field for their End-Of-Camp Performance at Hull Field.


Director of Operations Appointed to Staff

Douglas R. Fletcher will be appointed Director of Operations beginning fall 2017.  Fletcher will organize and implement activities associated with Purdue Band Day, Purdue Jazz Festival, the Indianapolis 500, Leath Scholarship auditions, and the Partners in Music Education program.  He will also oversee and maintain the departmental rehearsal and performance calendar.

Before being appointed Director of Operations, Fletcher served as Visiting Instructor during the 2016-2017 academic year for Purdue Bands & Orchestras.

Fletcher’s public teaching career includes directorships at Monroe-Central Jr. /Sr. High School (1985-1992), Winchester Community High School (1992-1998), Highland High School (1998-2010), Anderson High School (2010-2011), and a second stint at Winchester Community High School (2011-2016).  His high school concert bands have performed at the IMEA State Convention on three occasions with ensembles from three different schools, twice at the ISSMA State Concert Band Finals with the Highland Wind Ensemble, and numerous times at ISSMA Organizational and IMEA Concert Band Festivals.

Fletcher’s successes as a high school marching band director include several appearances at the ISSMA Marching Band State Finals. His true niche and passion, however, has been with the historic Indiana State Fair Band Day contest. He is the only director to win the Indiana State Fair Band Day at four separate schools, and holds a record of thirteen wins for the most State Fair championships. His marching bands have performed in numerous major parades: the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade, the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Hollywood Christmas Parade, the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C., and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Douglas Fletcher was named the 2008 IMEA Outstanding High School Music Educator, and was the recipient of the Phi Beta Mu Outstanding Bandmaster Award in 2010.  Fletcher holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Music Education from Ball State University.  He played trombone in the Anderson Symphony Orchestra for twenty years and the Muncie Symphony Orchestra for ten years. Doug has served as choir director/organist at various churches in Anderson, Muncie, and Winchester.  He also arranges music for marching bands, and frequently serves as a clinician and adjudicator.  Doug also coordinated the IMEA Honor Band for several years, and has served on the IMEA Board of Directors.

Fletcher is also a member of the Music Educators National Conference, Indiana Music Educators Association, Indiana Bandmasters Association, Phi Beta Mu honorary fraternity for band directors, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

Doug is married to Amy Fletcher, who teaches in the Greenfield-Central Schools.  The Fletchers are excited to be moving to West Lafayette with their two black labs, Bailey and Boaz.

New Twirlers Selected for 2017-2018 Purdue “All-American” Marching Band

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Olivia Zugai of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, is the newest twirler to win the highly coveted position of Purdue Golden Girl. On Saturday, February 25, Zugai received the top score at auditions held at Holloway Gymnasium on Purdue’s campus to earn the title.   She will become Golden Girl No. 29 continuing a tradition started by Director of Bands Emeritus, Dr. Al G. Wright in 1954. This past season, Zugai was one of the Silver Twins alongside Kaitlyn Schleis. She also held a position on the All American Twirling Team her freshman and sophomore years at Purdue.

Zugai won’t be the only twirler making her debut in a new position at the Purdue vs. Louisville football game on September 2. There will be a new face in the Girl-in-Black position as well.

Kaitlyn Schleis, a rising sophomore in speech, language and hearing sciences from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was selected to twirl as Girl-in-Black for the 2017-2018 season.

Next fall, the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band will also welcome two incoming freshmen to complete the solo twirler roster. The Silver Twins for 2017-2018 are Alicia Dennie of Culver, Indiana and Brooke Wyatt of LaFontaine, Indiana.

In addition, seven students were offered spots on the All-American Twirling Team. They include rising seniors Erin Groll and Kara Tighe, sophomores Mackenzie Joefreda and Emma Schafer, and incoming freshmen Meryl Campbell, Sarah Cohen, and Marin Parker.

Purdue University is unique because twirlers, as well as all band members, are required to audition for positions annually. All candidates must be admitted to Purdue University in order to qualify for auditions.

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