Allentown 2014 – Humbled and Grateful

The annual trip to the Collegiate Marching Band Festival is one that is anticipated every September by members of over 20 college programs.  It is a chance for students (and staff members) to see friends in other programs. It is a chance for band members to see other college bands perform.  It is a chance for high school students to “check out” the bands at universities they are applying to for the next year.  It is a chance to renew old friendships and make new ones.

This year was no different…except when a couple of drum majors from two “sister” band programs, the coordinator of the event, the band directors from the second institution, all the staff members from both programs, and over 700 college students decide they want to do something special for the two folks celebrating their 20th anniversary at the helm of the UDMB.

To be told that you are to get on the podium after the show when you’re not conducting one of the tunes causes one to raise an eyebrow.  To stand there and see your program setting up the post game block for “In My Life” causes one to raise the other eyebrow and shoot a look at the drum majors.  But to then see the UMMB start to file onto the field and mesh with the UDMB–as in days of old, oh not so long ago–it was a matter of conscious will, effort and control not to become completely unglued.

I wish I could say I heard what Ed Otto was saying over the PA–but I cannot.  It was too important to find Jim Ancona and make sure he got out in front so I could thank him for sticking around all these years.

2009 was the last year we put the bands together.  UMASS still played UD in football and the UMMB made the pilgrimage to Delaware Stadium that final year.  And we stood together playing “My Way” and “In My Life” and everything was right with the world.  Today I stood on the podium again, in front of two bands who do not know each other.  And yet I saw what I always used to see: a reflection of myself and my best friend looking back. And while I know I was alone on that podium I couldn’t help but feel that I was sharing it with someone again.

Thank you Maggie, Katy, Fred, Sarah, Courtney, all the members of both bands, Thom Hannum, and Tim Anderson. You pulled off quite a feat—I had no idea.  Thank you Jim Ancona….the first 20 have been fun, and now that we’ve “figured it out,” the next 20 should be even more fun.  And while he may no longer be with us, thank you George…you always believed there was something worth cultivating in that blond cocky trumpet player you met not so very long ago.  And for that alone, I am humbled and grateful.