The Big Red Band has a long history...
Over 125 years! In fact, this history is so long and storied that a comprehensive chronicle of it does not exist. So why should this page be any different? Therefore, if you have any tidbit to offer, please click on contact us and send us an e-mail. We hope to continually add to it and one day make this page complete. We can then throw in some black and white pictures, publish it in hardcopy, and rake in the millions that await us. Yeah.
Many changes have taken place that have radically (or sometimes not-so-radically) altered the overall identity and attitude of the Band. Included here are but brief samplings of our past.
The band was first formed in the 1890's as a part of the Reserve Officer's Training Corps program. It remained under ROTC jurisdiction until 1948, at which time it became affiliated with the Cornell Concert Band and the Cornell Repertory Band under the name Cornell Bands. The Director of Bands from 1947 to 1965, William Campbell, and Assistant Director and Drillmaster (in the late '50s), Henry Romersa, oversaw this change. Also crucial in these "silver age" bands were Nick Krukovsky, '65, for many years the official cameraman/movie editor for the band, and Ernie Hardy, just to name a few. His successor, Marice Stith, guided the Band through even more changes from 1966 to 1989.
Leaving the military
These changes would significantly alter the face of the band as we know it, almost as much as splitting from ROTC! As the BRMB left its military roots, it evolved more and more from its early years. The Band remained all-male until 1970, when women were first admitted. Although this may have been a dark day indeed, it brought an important attribute to the Band: dating. The BRMB increasingly became a social organization, leading to the family-like atmosphere that pervades it today.
Transition to scatter band?
This change was not an easy one. In previous years, the Band aspired to be a Big Ten type of group. Drum Major Jeff Doane '70 lead with a style right out of this tradition. However, the Band had an extreme reaction to this strict style of the year before, and almost succumbed to campus pressure to be like the other Ivy League bands. Drum major Ed Heit '71 wore a white blazer or dinner jacket as opposed to Jeff Doane's drum major uniform! Would our dear BRMB be doomed to join the ranks of the already too-numerous scatter bands?
The vision of Greg Pearson
Hell no. Bill Welker '73 resurrected the Drum Major uniform for his two years at the helm. The Band continued its tradition of truly entertaining shows and musical excellence. In 1971, the Band welcomed the talents of new Assistant Director Greg Pearson. He had a definite vision for how he wanted the band to sound, from his arrangement of pre-game and halftime shows, to his decision to switch the band to the crescent side of the field. Even though we were no longer with our friends in the student section, there is no question that the Band sounded better with the concrete background and height offered by the crescent.
The most significant addition to the band in the last thirty years has been the Big Red Bands Alumni Association in 1982. The BRBAA was founded as a way to maintain the financial and long-term security of the Band. Since then, the BRBAA has become one of the most active alumni groups on the Hill! No description of this time in band history would be complete without mentioning band advisor Georgian Leonard, who spearheaded the first annual phonathon.
Power to the students
With the retirement of Professor Stith, Scott Jeneary came aboard as Big Red Band Music Director in 1989, and the position was later restructured and renamed Music Advisor. In the last twenty years or so, the band has become not only the largest student-run group in the Ivy League, but also the MOST student-run, as decisions and tasks formerly carried out by "directors" became the direct responsibilities of the students (outlined in the band's Constitution, written in 1997), right down to budgets, expenditures, drill writing, and even arranging music! David Conn was music advisor from 1995 to 2002, James Miller took over from 2003 to 2005, followed by Erin Otto for the 2006 season. Thomas P. LaFalce Jr.'94 was the Athletics Advisor from 1996 to 2004. Our current advisors, Mark McCarthy (General) and Steve Caraher (Athletics) are ever-helpful, but always seek to empower the student leadership that characterizes the only REAL Marching Band in the Ivy League!!!