Subscribe to:

The Modern Era

"Baaaaand, take the field!"

When Dr. Revelli retired in the summer of 1971, the Michigan Bands consisted of six bands with an enrollment of nearly 500 students. It was during Revelli's final season as Director of the University of Michigan Marching Band that an oboist from the School of Music, Carl Grapentine, began his long career as the "Voice of the Michigan Bands."

The Cavender years: 1972-1975

George Cavender succeeded Revelli as Director of University Bands. Through his efforts, funds were raised and a new state-of-the-art facility was built to house the MMB and was named, quite properly, Revelli Hall. Cavender was also instrumental in renaming Wines Field -- the Marching Band rehearsal field -- to Elbel Field. Prior to this, nothing on campus had ever been named in honor of the man who wrote The Victors. The success of the Michigan football team under head coach Bo Schembechler saw the demise of the annual Band Day -- the Athletic Department realized it could sell the thousands of seats it had given away free to the high school band students. The success of the football team and changes in the rules for post season games allowed the Marching Band to travel to every New Year's Day to a bowl game.

Women in the MMB

11 In 1972, a dramatic change occurred; women were admitted into the Marching Band. Long overdue, the "change" resulted in a huge increase in the number of applicants seeking membership in the Marching Band. The popularity and strength of the Marching Band were greatly enhanced. After Cavender's retirement from the MMB in 1978, Glenn Richter took over for one year as the conductor of the MMB. He was succeeded by Eric Becher, a native of Ann Arbor, who conducted the Marching Band from 1980-1989. During the 1980s, the enrollment of the Marching Band continued to swell -- especially as more and more women tried out for the band. (Today, nearly half of the members of the Marching Band are women.) Soon, it became apparent that the funding and even the Revelli Hall facilities were inadequate for the growing needs of the band.

The Louis Sudler National Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy

On January 1, 1983, the MMB became the first recipient of the Louis Sudler National Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy. The selection of the Michigan Band as the first recipient of the award was made through a ballot sent to 700 college marching band directors, sportswriters, and broadcasters.

Donald Shepherd and the Elbel Club

It was during this time that a special Michigan alumnus, Donald Shepherd ('58) took an interest in the MMB and "adopted" it. Through his efforts, the Elbel Club -- friends of the Michigan Marching Band -- was founded in 1990. Due to the financial campaign drives of the Elbel Club and Mr. Shepherd's personal generosity, nearly $20 million have been raised for the University of Michigan Marching Band -- money that has been used for the enlargement and renovation of Revelli Hall, the purchase of new uniforms and instruments and for scholarships. Gone are the days when the band was forced to "pass the bucket" on the Diag for the basic necessities.

Into the 1990s...

13 In 1989, Eric Becher was succeeded by band alumnus Jerry Luckhardt. Luckhardt was followed by Gary Lewis as Director of the MMB in 1990. In 1995, band alumnus Jeff Grogan served as the interim director and then as assistant director to Kevin Sedatole in 1996. Dr. Sedatole was appointed the Donald R. Shepherd Assistant Professor of Conducting and the Director of the Michigan Marching Band from 1996-1999 after an extensive national search.

2000s and Today

James Tapia succeeded Kevin Sedatole and brought the MMB into the 21st century, serving as director from 1999-2001.  In 2001, many changes took place. Michael Haithcock was hired as the new Director of Bands, replacing H. Robert Reynolds, who retired after 26 years in that position.  Jamie L. Nix ('99), a University of Michigan School of Music alumnus, was also hired that year to become the 13th director of the MMB. In 2007, Scott Boerma (M. Mus '92) was hired as the Donald R. Shepherd Associate Professor of Conducting and the Director of the Michigan Marching Band. Under Dr. Boerma’s leadership, the MMB continued to exemplify the commitment to excellence in musicianship and performance that has been the hallmark of this great ensemble for well over 100 years.

Beginning in 2013, Dr. John Pasquale, former Associate Director, succeeded Dr. Boerma as the Donald R. Shepherd Associate Professor of Conducting and Director of the Michigan Marching Band. Dr. Andrea Brown was hired in April 2013, becoming the Assistant Director of Bands and the Associate Director of the Michigan Marching Band.  Dr. Andrea Brown’s appointment was especially notable, for she is the first female to hold a Band Director Title at the University of Michigan, heralding in a new era for our programs.

Under the direction of Drs. Pasquale and Brown, the Michigan Marching Band strives to create a relevant presence in today’s modern world. Using new technologies, innovative show concepts, and a willingness to take risks, the band continues to make headlines and set trends.

As the Michigan Marching Band continues into the future, one thing will always be present: the spirit, drive, and daily commitment to excellence exhibited by the fine students of this organization.  It is their passion, intelligence, leadership, and belief in the University of Michigan that maintain the strength and longevity of one of the greatest traditions in the country, the Michigan Marching Band.