UAlbany's new spirit booster -- the Pep Band debuts
Not since Professor Harold Hill organized his boys’ band in Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man has there been such excitement surrounding the formation of a group of musicians – at least on UAlbany’s campus. Last fall the call went out to the University community for anyone who had experience playing a band instrument to sign up for a new UAlbany Pep Band. The hope was to attract at least 15 to 20 people who had a high school level instrumental proficiency. The idea obviously struck a chord – the informational meeting in December drew nearly 50 enthusiastic musicians – all ready to sign up.
The group is a mix of both students and staff. Some students are music majors, others are very talented freshmen just out of their high school bands. Still others like drummer Jerome Garrett aren’t music majors, but have extensive music backgrounds. Garrett can tickle the ivories as well as handle the sticks.
Several UAlbany staff members like Carolyn Malloch, a Learning Disability Specialist in the Department of Student Life, decided to dust off their instruments and do their part to boost UAlbany’s spirit quotient. Carolyn plays tenor trombone and joined the Pep Band because she enjoyed playing in high school and the challenge of re-developing playing skills. “It’s been 33 years since I played on a regular basis, but those great memories of my prior band experience (she won 9 first division ratings in high school playing trombone) motivated me to devote the time to practice. Plus, joining the Pep Band just sounded like fun!”
Pep Band flutist and also Associate Vice President of the University’s Office of Media & Marketing, Catherine Herman attended a big 12 University where the pep band played an important role on campus. “As our Division I athletics program matures, I can’t wait to look back and say, ‘I was an original member of the University’s first all-volunteer pep band.’”
The band is under the direction of University adjunct instructor, Kevin Champagne. No stranger to Pep Bands, Champagne has been teaching at Lansingburg High School for 16 years. “I have taught band at all levels, including marching band, pep band, jazz ensemble, jazz combo, percussion ensemble, guitar ensemble, and pit orchestra. At UAlbany I now have the Symphonic Band, Pep Band, and two conducting students. I love the college atmosphere, and I’m looking forward to adding to it with the pep band.”
Donning their new purple and gold monogrammed rugby shirts and belting out their repertoire of up-tempo songs such as Mony Mony, Hot Hot Hot, Mambo #5 and the theme from Hawaii Five-O, UAlbany’s hotter-than-hot Pep Band will debut at the women’s and men’s basketball games at the Big Purple Growl on February 7th.