Roy and Sarah Johnson Homecoming Tribute


After 60 years of service to one of the finest collegiate instrumental music programs in the nation, Roy Johnson is retiring at the end of this academic year as the “Voice” of the “All-American” Marching Band. Roy will be remembered throughout history and his legacy will live on through the countless lives he has touched while at Purdue University. To honor Roy and Sarah, the faculty and staff made several surprise announcements that were unveiled throughout the Homecoming weekend.

With the help of the Gamma Pi Alumni Association, a scholarship endowment was created prior to Homecoming. In an effort to keep the scholarship announcement a secret from both Roy and Sarah, the department approached Radio City alumni, along with brothers from Kappa Kappa Psi, and asked them to consider a gift prior to Homecoming weekend. With a goal of $50,000, many band alumni and friends stepped up and helped exceed our expectations. With a lead gift from band alumnus, Marc Hagle and his wife Sharon, plus additional gifts from loyal alumni, more than $138,000 was raised in support of the scholarship. “Announcing a $138,000 endowment to provide scholarships in honor of Roy and Sarah was remarkable. The look on their faces was priceless. We hope more alumni and friends will now come forward to support this scholarship endowment in honor of a truly amazing couple. They have given so much to our department throughout their lives, so I hope this scholarship named after both Roy and Sarah will honor them in a big way,” said Jay Gephart.

The surprises did not stop there. Members of the “All-American” Marching Band announced the addition of the word “Roy” to the band cheer. The addition of this new word will allow all future bandsmen the opportunity to understand the legacy Roy Johnson left on the department during his 60 years of service. At halftime, Roy and Sarah were escorted onto the field for special recognition by the alumni band, “All-American” Marching Band and Purdue University. Roy played a part in designing the halftime performance by selecting two special numbers which included the Circus Show Medley featuring music from the band’s first appearance in the Rose Bowl, and the infamous 1812 Overture, complete with fireworks. The show concluded with special messages from Purdue University President Mitch Daniels and Director of Bands Emeritus, Dr. Al G. Wright. A version of “I Am An American” with words spoken by Sarah, as well as different Purdue celebrities, was also played on the jumbotron. Guest conductors included Bill Kissinger, Dr. David Leppla and Roy Johnson. The show ended with a rousing rendition of Hail Purdue as over 900 people formed the infamous “Block P” on the field.

“Roy and Sarah Johnson have truly been a tremendous asset in every way to our department and we will be forever grateful for all that they have done for our students,” said Gephart.

Should you wish to contribute to the Roy and Sarah Johnson Scholarship Endowment, please click here.

Purdue Jazz Band Director Recognized as Jazz Educator of the Year by Indianapolis Jazz Foundation

Dr. Mo Trout has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation Educator of the Year Award.  The Indianapolis Jazz Foundation recognizes and commemorates the jazz greats who continue to provide extraordinary leadership to the jazz community.  Each year, one person is selected for this honor. “I am excited to have been selected as the Jazz Educator of the Year.  The fact that my name was selected over many others in the state is humbling and a true honor.”

Back at Purdue, Dr. Trout is the director of the jazz program.  He has been at Purdue since 1997 and he currently directs the Purdue Jazz Band, American Music Repertory Ensemble, Lab Jazz Band 1 & 2, and the Concert Jazz Band.  Most recently, he has integrated a new group known as the Guitar Ensemble into the program, which focuses on contemporary and popular styles of performance.

While Purdue University is very unique when compared to other Big Ten institutions, because there are no music majors, over 850 students participated in instrumental music ensembles this fall semester.  In the spring semester, the jazz programs will continue to overflow the basement of Slayter Center with membership in five full big bands, the guitar ensemble and at least five combo groups.

Under the direction of Dr. Trout, the Purdue Jazz Band has collaborated with several internationally known artists including, Bill Watrous, Bob Mintzer, The New York Voices, Marvin Hamlisch, Wayne Begeron, Tom Harrell and more!  All jazz ensembles have had the opportunity to travel and tour both nationally and internationally under Trout’s tenure. Performances have included; four European tours at the Montreux, Alpine and North Sea International Jazz Festivals and three study abroad trips to Italy, Eastern Europe and Spain.  In June 2014, Dr. Trout and a group of jazz students were honored when they received an invitation to participate in a series of jazz camps in Colombia, South America.

The Indianapolis Jazz Foundation event begins at 6 p.m. at the Jewel Arts and Events Center, 3333 N. Illinois St., Indianapolis, with the awards program and performances beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $60 per person ($50 for Jazz Foundation members) and include a dinner buffet. Ticket and membership information is available online at or


Purdue University’s “All-American” Marching Band Twirlers Represent at AYOP

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.—Purdue University’s “All-American” Marching Band Twirlers competed at AYOP, July 21-27 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. This national competition brings together the best baton twirlers, teams and corps from around the world.  Another appropriate name would be the “World Series of Baton Twirling.”

This year’s results for Purdue University includes; Golden Girl- Alexa Phillips, Silver Twin- Julianna Johnson, and All-American Twirling Team Member- Olivia Zugai. Alexa placed top 5 in all open events which qualified her to participate in world open finals. Out of 100 twirlers, Alexa placed top 20 as a Grand National Finalist and top 15 Collegiate “Down the Field” participant.  Julianna placed 7th overall in the College Miss Majorette of America pageant as well as top 10 in Collegiate Finals. She also placed 2nd overall the National Majorette Contest and was a 2nd place finalist in the World Open for the 19 year old group. Olivia placed 2nd at AYOP. She was the runner-up for Title of World  Open Strut Champion for the Advanced Age 18 category. This placement qualified her for the Strut Off Competition. Overall, the “All-American” Marching Band Twirlers placed 3rd at AYOP.

Purdue University’s “All-American” Marching Band makes summer visit to Medellín, Colombia

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University’s “All-American” Marching Band from West Lafayette, Indiana USA, will perform in the Feria de las Flores (Festival of Flowers) from August 5-10 in Medellín, Colombia.  Band members will participate in a variety of performance, cultural and school engagement opportunities beyond parading in the festival during their visit. In 1961, Purdue University’s “All-American” Marching Band made its first trip to Colombia. At the time, sixty-four band members made the trip and made over thirty appearances in twelve cities. Today, over 190 band members are in attendance and will perform at a variety of events leading up to the parade on August 9 in the city of Medellín.

Back on Purdue’s campus, over 375 students participate in the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band.  Most recently, the band has had several international travel experiences. Some trips included have been Beijing, China as well as Dublin, Ireland, where they performed in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In its 129-year-plus history, the band was the first to break military ranks to form an image on the football field in 1907; it has served as the official band of the Indianapolis 500 Race since 1919, was the first band at a university without a music school to win the Sudler Trophy in 1995, and was the first Big Ten band to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Students in the “All-American” Marching Band continue to perform at Purdue because of their love for music.  The department of Purdue Bands & Orchestras, which includes the “All-American” Marching Band, boasts having over 750 students participate per semester—quite an accomplishment for a non-music degree granting institution. Over 23 different ensembles are offered per year, which include jazz, orchestra, concert band, athletic pep bands, and more.


Trombone Ryan McDonnell wins 2015 Sudler Prize

Ryan McDonnell, has been named the 2015 winner of Purdue’s Sudler Prize in the Arts, marking the tenth time in 12 years a Purdue Bands & Orchestras student has been named Purdue’s top senior in the arts. Ryan has participated in every different type of ensemble within Purdue Bands & Orchestras.  Currently, Ryan plays trombone in both the Purdue Wind Ensemble and Purdue Jazz Band.

Each year, top seniors in the arts are nominated by their respective departments to compete for the award.  Contestants come from Visual and Performing Arts, Purdue Musical Organizations, Purdue Bands & Orchestras and the Purdue Black Cultural Center.

Majoring in Chemical Engineering, McDonnell is a senior from Winter Garden, FL who will be continuing his education at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law in the fall. McDonnell’s talent on the trombone has led him to participate in virtually every ensemble offered at Purdue Bands & Orchestras, sometimes up to three in one semester.

Jay Gephart, Director of the Wind Ensemble, says “Ryan has been a leader in the department throughout his time at Purdue and that contributed to his strength as a Sudler competitor.”

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