“Incredulous and thrilled.”
That’s how Professor Brian Hodge, the director of bands, described the Warrior Marching Band’s reaction when it was recently selected to perform at the National Band Championship in Allentown, Pa. in November.
Hodge states that this is the first time the band gets to perform at the national level.
“We’ve performed at the regional level; we’ve performed at the local level, but to have this opportunity to be on a national stage is tremendous,” he said.
A.J. Blatzheim, a senior psychology major who plays tuba for the band, also shares in Hodge’s enthusiasm about this accomplishment.
“The fact that we did get selected for nationals is easily the largest honor we’ve ever been given here,” he said.
The band’s new show, which will be performed at the National Band Championship, is titled “Music from the Age of Neon.” Hodge chose this theme because he was inspired by the “New jack swing” style of music from the mid to late 1980s, which he describes as a mix of hip hop and swing.
According to Hodge, the show itself features a lot of different elements to make it unique and not a traditional marching band show experience.
“We’re doing very some innovative things this year. We’re incorporating dance and vocals,” he said.
In addition to these elements, the show also incorporates electronics like synthesizers to help support and strengthen the overall sound of the band. A synthesizer is a keyboard-based instrument, so Hodge needed to ensure he had the players to achieve what he wanted.
“I spent last year somewhat actively recruiting piano players because I knew this was the direction I wanted to move in.”
One of the goals was to create a show that reflected the strengths of ESU.
“We’re putting everything together, adding a touch of theatre, and making something that is completely ESU,” said Hodge.
He acknowledges a need to be different from the other bands since the Warrior Marching Band is smaller in size compared to other collegiate bands.
“If we try to play the game the other bands are playing, we won’t win,” he said.
And how are they preparing for November’s performance? Technically, the hard work started before the start of the semester with band camp. After that, the band meets regularly throughout the semester to practice and perfect the show, but there’s a lot of preparation that the students need to do outside of band practice.
“We take a lot of personal time and dedication to perfect our own movements on our own time,” said Blatzheim.
According to Hodge, this was one of the more difficult shows the students have had to experience, so the extra effort is needed. The results have been rewarding for both Hodge and the band.
“The students feel like rockstars walking off that field,” said Hodge.
The National Band Championship will be held at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown, Pa. on November 2. When asked what the band’s ultimate goal for this performance was, Hodge’s answer was straightforward.
“Our ultimate goal is to perform the heck out of it.”
Email Colin at: