Vol. 12. No. 2
Fall 2002


B A N D 6


Some University treasures — like the Marching Band, for example — sneak up on you.

Just how, you ask, could a marching band sneak up on anyone? After all, if the snare drums and cymbals don't give it away, wouldn't the trumpets and trombones be a little hard to miss?

Well, consider this scenario. It's mid-February and bitter cold. A late night on campus finds you hurrying for your car, trailing frosty clouds in the darkness. Suddenly you hear the distant blare of trumpets and the ruffle of drums. There's the sound of saxophones. Clarinets. A tuba. It's nearly 10 p.m. A band performance at night?

In the middle of winter? Intrigued, you explore.

You find a band — in fact, a fairly large band — assembled on the steps of the Park Building. Players are swaddled in coats, buried in hats and hoods, bundled in mittens and scarves. Their instruments glitter in the cold air. You marvel at the dedication of this hardy group as they attempt to warm up with icy mouthpieces, frozen reeds, and cold-stiff fingers. And then a whistle from the director suddenly snaps the band into place, and the powerful opening fanfare of "Summon the Heroes" booms out across Presidents Circle. The sound electrifies you, makes your hair stand on end, sends goosebumps rippling from your head to your toes.

That is the sneak attack that stole my heart.

That night in February, I unexpectedly caught an evening rehearsal of the Olympic Spirit Band, under the direction of University of Utah Band Director Scott Hagen. The Spirit Band was composed of approximately 130 players from throughout Utah, of which more than 70 were from the University's own marching band. "The U's marching band is like a big family," Hagen says. "Many of the band members aren't even music majors. They participate because they love to play and they love having fun." And that night in February was fun. The band members marched in steady cadence down Presidents Circle under Hagen's direction, blaring sweet music into the darkness. Other night owls on campus-students, faculty, staff-popped out of buildings and applauded the band as it marched by, and then followed alongside, creating a spontaneous parade. It was magical, inspiring, and completely unexpected.

—Mark Woodland is assistant vice president of marketing and communications at the U.

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