The classic Don McLean song “American Pie” says “the marching band refused to yield.” I can think of nothing else to describe the Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band better than this. Dr. Jeff Mathews, director of bands, agrees.
“I wish [everyone] knew how many people and how many hours go into making this work,” he said.
The Spirit of Northwestern added 115 freshmen to its ranks this year, a record-breaking number for the ensemble. This pushed the marching band’s numbers close to 340.
The band starts its season well before classes begin. While the leadership team officially started the season on Aug. 10, they were quickly followed by remaining members on Aug. 14. However, Mathews asserts directors have been working on this season since the end of the previous one.
Although campus was closed due to Hurricane Harvey, they were determined to get a practice in before their first performance of the season – a football game at Louisiana Tech University.
After obtaining permission from the school, steadfast band members were at the Proving Grounds – their practice field – on the afternoon of Sept. 1 preparing for their first performance of the year alongside Louisiana Tech’s Band of Pride the following day. Dr. Mathews called the collaborative experience “fantastic.”
This performance would later be dedicated to the victims and survivors of Harvey, earning the combined band multiple standing ovations from the crowd and a rave review from College Marching Bands, a website dedicated to “celebrating the pageantry, tradition and excellence” of collegiate bands.
“You won’t hear anything better than this today,” the reviewer wrote.
The band directors said they have a fundraising idea to aid victims of the hurricane, but it is still in the early stages of development. Mathews said they will do whatever they can to help those affected while continuing to work on the next part of their season – a tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ albums “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
The Spirit of Northwestern’s full performance schedule can be viewed online at capa.nsula.edu