Pep Band at NCAA Tournament
Prof. Kevin Champagne and the UAlbany Pep Band were part of the excitement as they played for basketball fans at both the men's and women's tournament games against Duke and North Carolina recently. Prof. Champagne has been leading the Pep Band as well as our University-Community Symphonic Band for ten years now. Currently, the Pep Band is forty members strong with 20-35 members participating per game. Recently, Prof. Champagne was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to share some thoughts about the Pep Band's participation in March Madness:
"Entering the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia brought back a lot of memories from 2006, when we played UConn there. We were the first game of the day, so when we arrived it wasn't full yet, but as more people arrived and the game got going it became very loud. I ended up playing drum set in Philly because our drummer couldn't make the trip. I played in Texas last year also for the same reason. Fortunately, this has been the best UAlbany Pep Band yet, so they played very well without me conducting. The other teams we played both had Pep Bands as well, and in past years I would have been intimidated, but our Pep Band has been great all year, so I wasn't worried that we would be looked down upon. Actually, I wanted to add a new piece and we didn't have time to rehearse so we ended up sight-reading it at the game. It worked pretty well!
The atmosphere at the women's game was much more lively right from the start because we were the second game of the day, and the arena was packed from the start. We don't have much to do with the players, but we did hang out with some of the men's team after the game, and have interacted a little with some of the women's team in the past. Both teams have expressed how much they like the Pep Band and how appreciative they are. A trip like this, which is like a mini-tour, is a very bonding experience for everyone involved. I'm sure everyone that was on this trip with the Pep Band would never consider not playing next year. Beside the games, for which the Pep Band is VERY loud, the best memories usually come at meal time, when everyone is together. We had the whole band in my room for pizza Saturday night, and everyone stayed for several hours before heading off. Can't wait for next year!"
Prof. Champagne can be reached at (518) 442-4192 or by e-mail at email@example.com.