Monthly archives "November 2014"

A Farewell to Alums

Alumni Relations
our picture!

A Red-Letter Homecoming!

Greetings and Salutations Alumni!

This is Anjum and Emily, come to bid you farewell. Our term is drawing to a close and we feel the time is ripe to bring out our handkerchiefs, and get extremely teary-eyed in expressing how much we have enjoyed and cherished our time serving as your Alumni Relations chairs this past year. We loved meeting you and hearing your stories and experiences with the band. We are so glad and proud of the successful transition to the band’s new website and we hope this change to digital communication has been a smooth conversion for everyone. That being said, this transition is still a work in progress, and we welcome any feedback you have. 2015 is nearly at an end and with it, our term in Bandstaph. But never fear, a new generation of Alumni Relations chairs will continue our shining legacy to keep you updated on all the band news. It was a great year, and there are still many more to come!

-Anjum ’16 and Emily ‘16

Updates from the Advisory Council

Alumni Relations

Before I begin, I want to thank many of you who contacted me with feedback about the new website, communications plan, and content – it is sincerely appreciated. It has been mainly positive, but we can always do better, so please keep the comments coming.

I’d like to update you on the main issues facing the Bands and the Alumni Association right now. The nature of our group is to focus on how make things better for the band, and often that involves facing challenges. However, despite the negative tone that his might carry – and without sounding cliché – there is a lot about what’s happening right now that is really superb. I just got back from New York for the Battle of the Titans between Cornell and Columbia. The team in powder blue was slightly less titanic, and the Big Red pulled out their first victory. The band always wins, of course, but when it’s a comparison to Columbia, that’s like damning with faint praise. However, the students really did look and sound spectacular – the Pixar arrangements were musically complex and the field shows were really sharp. There are new (suitable for print) traditions including community service activities that integrate the energy and talent of the Pep and Marching Bands into campus events, showcasing the best of what the Big Red Bands have to offer.

Of course, one of our main goals is to do what we can as an Alumni Association to support and optimize the student experience. There are three areas that we will be focusing on in the short term. First, we want to turn our attention the Pep Band to deal with the unprecedented success that many of our teams have had. This mainly applies to men’s and women’s ice hockey and men’s lacrosse. The unpredictable nature of these postseason events as well as the cost of these often far-flung trips makes planning and budgeting a nightmare. About ten years ago, we implemented a model with a fixed inflation-adjusted line for projected playoff expenses that was initially based on the previous decade of experience. Every silver lining has a cloud, and with every Cornell victory, we exceeded that budgeted amount almost every year. Given our history of support for teams, the option to simply not go to a deep round playoff game was never a realistic option given the heavily-invested stakeholders – the student band members, our athletes, alumni going to the games, and the Cornell community at large. Additionally, regular season pep band travel has also been at an all-time high (not surprising when the teams are good), further limiting budget flexibility. There are many other contributing factors, but the bottom line is that we need to have guidelines in place that incorporate some combination of number of trips, total cost, team quality, student enthusiasm, and playoff potential into planning both a regular season pep band travel schedule and which playoffs will be attended (unless other funding becomes available). Importantly, this will create realistic expectations for the student leadership, the absence of which has made year-to-year planning difficult. This was first discussed at the Alumni Association meeting in 2013, and I was encouraged by the consensus of the many people in attendance that a general plan should be in place. This discussion will be lead by current (and outgoing) Pep Band Manager Michelle Yanda and Advisory Council at-large member Kyle Preston. If you are interested in contributing, please contact Michelle, Kyle, or me.

When the band is not traveling, they have a beautiful new home in the Fischell Band Center (and if you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for?). Like any large construction project, the punch list is still on going. One item is the installation of the permanent donor recognition plaques, but a larger component is – for lack of a better description – making the house into a home. Clearly, a lot of that happens organically over time and cannot (and should not) be planned. Still, there are elements of the band’s history and legacy that can be showcased in this space. Some of this is simple but requires some logistical planning, like displaying old uniforms and t-shirts appropriately. Some is more unique to the space, like designing the large photo murals that will adorn the ceilings. Some of it may incorporate some of the great research into our history uncovered by Kim Salsbury or some of the fantastic band-centric art by Lora Root. It is important that we get this done, because at our fall 2014 Advisory Council meeting (comprising students, alumni, and staff), the students made it clear that they feel like they can’t get totally comfortable until they know what space will be used for what (aesthetic) purpose. Importantly, this cannot be done exclusively by alumni, but similarly cannot be done without us, either. This effort will be lead by current (and future) drum major Michaela Olson with support from Sarah Fischell and me. Let us know if you’d like to contribute.

Lastly, I want to share what is our biggest current financial challenge. Over the years, even when accounting for money put aside for pending uniform and instrument purchases, the Bands have almost always run in the black. Even during the recession, your loyal support allowed the Marching Band and Pep Band to continue to thrive. Additionally, a decrease in yield in our endowment funds was mitigated by the purchase of more shares, keeping payout dollars roughly unaffected. However, on an annual basis, we are running far closer even than we ever have before. While FY14 concluded with a modest positive budget (the numbers are still being audited and will be included in the next content upload), expense increases will continue. These are fueled by two main items: increased travel costs and building operations. The first is due to a reorganization of Swarthout – our primary bus company – and has necessitated using other (more expensive) companies. The second is due to a major change in how the University budgets for all of its units. Previously, facilities operations were centralized and college deans (for example) did not have line items for building utilities, maintenance, and stewardship. That cost has shifted to them in an attempt to have more accountability. This affects Athletics (and therefore the Bands) as well. To be clear, this would have had a significant effect had we remained in Barton Hall, but it is obviously exacerbated by having a larger space. Because the impact is significant, we have negotiated with Student and Academic Services to have these costs phased in over a three year period (with FY14 being year zero). For FY15, we will only pay actual costs – that is, real expenses for heating the Band Center and keeping the lights on. The additional maintenance and stewardship costs will be covered by a combination of Athletics and Student and Academic Services funds with the Bands assuming these costs by FY18. This model is new to all of Cornell, and there may be some central operating funds that come with it, but we are still learning all of the details now. I’ll post more information as we learn it; for now, just look for the phonathon dates in January.

Lastly, thank you again for your interest and enthusiasm. Keep coming to events, say hello to the students, and let me know what information we can provide you with!

- Lowell Frank ’99 ’03

From The Head (and Heart) of Head Manager, Alex Settle

Alumni Relations

alex 1What a year this has been to be a part of the Big Red Marching Band! Being Head Manager of the only REAL marching band in the Ivy League has truly been an exhilarating, rewarding and humbling experience and I wouldn’t trade the opportunity for anything in the world. If you missed my introduction with Michaela back in the spring, my name is Alex Settle. I’m a junior in the college of Engineering studying Chemical Engineering, and I was the one crazy enough to put down my drums for a year to run this band!

This year, just like any year with the band, has been a roller coaster ride of excitement and hard work, but it was made even more exciting by Cornell’s Sesquicentennial Celebration! One of the most memorable experiences of this year and probably my entire Cornell career was the band’s participation in the Sesquicentennial Celebration Show at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Working with the show’s production team, I suddenly found myself in the shoes of a New York producer/director, coordinating the band’s entrance, performance, and exit on an extremely tight schedule with just two performances (matinee and evening shows) to get it right. Unsurprisingly, the band stole the show and seeing it all come together was one thousand times more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. Before and after the show, some members of the band got to meet world-famous musicians and actors like Wynton Marsalis and Ed Marinaro.

This year we also had the great opportunity to play at Quincy Market on our way to the Harvard away game and of course the Sy Katz ’31 parade after the Columbia game. While bringing three buses into and through major cities like Boston and New York is never easy to coordinate, the results were well worth it. During my election speech last December, I said that one of the best things about the Big Red Band is having the drum major get up on the ladder in the middle of a huge crowd and shout, “For those of you listening, we are the Cornell University Big Red Marching Band!” At the time, I could not possibly have known how magical it would be to watch that happen as Head Manager. Plus, the huge crowds of Band Alumni coming to show support made those nights even more special.

From an especially frosty march to Gates Hall to a tearful goodbye to the seniors after the last home game, I would never trade my experience this year for anything. For me, band has always been more about the friends I’ve made than the music we play, so being head manager was not only serving the band, it was serving my family. And I’d like to thank tMichaela and alexhe band so much for sticking with me even through the unusual events that the sesquicentennial brought.

Luckily, I don’t have to say goodbye just yet! Since I’m a Junior, I have one more year to play my heart out with the band. I will be stepping down at the end of this year and returning to the Drumline. As much fun as I’ve had this year, I’m very excited to get back to playing the instrument I love in the best band in the world.

-Alex Settle, ’16


Introducing the New Alumni Association Officers

Alumni Relations

At the 2014 Homecoming meeting of the Big Red Bands Alumni Association, the following slate of officers for 2015-2016 was approved:

Chair: Lowell Frank ’99, ’03
Vice Chair: Rosemarie Potocky ’06
Treasurer: Brian Adelman ’09
Secretary: Scott Pesner ’87
Resource Chair: Nick Janiga ’00
Events Coordinators: Adam Drenkard ’11 and Lauren Mangano ’11

Four at-large Advisory Council members will be appointed. Please contact Lowell Frank if you are interested.

Describing this Swinging, Magical, Incredible(s) Season of Love

Alumni Relations

Hail to thee, our Alma Mater!

Hey, all!

Michaela here, your 2014 (and, as recently determined, 2015!) drum major. This fall was such an incredible season for the Big Red Marching Band! As it is Cornell’s sesquicentennial, the band has been extra busy with a bunch of extra events to celebrate our home on the hill. Certainly, the season has been a memorable one! First Night started off with an incredible amount of energy (seriously, I don’t think I ever stopped smiling), and was a dynamic welcome to the wonderful Class of 2018!

Our first road trip of the year took us to NYC to play in an event for the sesquicentennial. The band made a powerful appearance at the Lincoln Center, parading into the theater and blasting Davy and My Old Cornell for all to hear. The show also featured the Glee Club, a rather dapper Ezra Cornell and A.D. White, and the real star of the show (other than the band, of course): a miniature Hot Truck that drove across the stage! Along with that, the band made a guest appearance on the Today Show and got to see the Empire State Building lit up red and white for Cornell. Over all, a rather successful trip to the city!

drum majors

Too many drum majors, just one mace!

The first field show of the year was the Broadway show. Pregame featured memorable tunes from West Side Story, while halftime resounded with songs from In the Heights and Rent. The band then took the show on the road, performing it a second time at a rainy day at Harvard (but certainly, we didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits!). The night before the Harvard game, the band played a concert in front of Quincy Market—something that was extra special for me as someone who grew up just outside of Boston and dined at Quincy Market many times as a child!

The second show was performed at homecoming. Filled with dazzling trumpet solos, the jazz show was a huge hit! Georgia on my Mind was one of my favorite songs of the year, and the absolute wall of sound it created during pregame was a huge hit with the alumni. Halftime continued with It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got that Swing), followed by a crowd favorite, Emerald Eyes. The band finished the show with creating a giant 150 on the field in honor of the sesquicentennial, and all of the alumni soloists joining in created an absolutely amazing sound!

When the band returned from Brown, they enchanted the audience with the magic show, which featured Fantasia’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice, themes from Harry Potter and Night on Bald Mountain. This show definitely contained the most challenging music of the year, but the band pulled it off with amazing flair! The final show of the year was the Pixar show, opening with driving music from The Incredibles, then slowing down with You’ve Got A Friend in Me and music from Cars.

This year also contained the memorable Sy Katz parade through the streets of New York City. With the melodies of Cornell Victorious still echoing in the air form the first (and, sadly, only) win of the season against Columbia, the band quickly made its way into the heart of the city to parade and concert in front of the Cornell Club. Standing atop that (extra) tall ladder and seeing all of the people there to watch is something I’ll never forget.

This whole year has been an absolute thrill for me. Life atop the ladder is even more incredible than I ever imagined, and I am beyond honored and thrilled that I’ll be doing this for another year. I know the season hasn’t even quite ended yet, but I’m already so excited to welcome the Class of 2019 (don’t worry Class of 2018—you guys will always be dear to my heart as well) into this wonderful family and only REAL marching band in the Ivy League!

-Michaela Olson ’16

Current students and Alums storm the field at this year’s Homecoming performance of Emerald Eyes!

Broadway show on the road at Hahvahd!

Managing Pep: Any Way You Want It

Alumni Relations

michelleHey everyone! I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by, it seems like just yesterday I sat on Skype for a few hours’ worth of elections. I’ve had an incredible experience getting to know lots of different members of the band and have been extremely fortunate to work with four awesome conductors throughout the year, with Anita Mbogoni ’15 and Victoria Dye ’16 conducting us this fall! The fall semester hasn’t been exceptionally busy for the Pep Band due to Marching Band, but we definitely have had a few unique events. We played two songs for a wedding that took place at the farmer’s market and we also took over for the marching band at the football game at Colgate! Throughout the semester, we also supported the women’s field hockey and volleyball teams, the men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as the men’s and women’s hockey teams. We’ve been fortunate enough to gain a few new members this fall and held our annual “Hockey 101” event to teach the new members the traditions of Lynah. We had a really exciting homecoming weekend since the Red/White hockey game fell immediately following the football game. We were glad to have our alums in the white band (white band is far superior), thanks so much for coming out! Our only two road trips this fall were to Colgate for football and to Madison Square Garden for Cornell versus Penn State hockey in the Frozen Apple game on November 29th.  Our social chairs also planned our first ever Pep Band Board Game Bash, where we all brought board games to play together and had snacks, which proved to be a great success! We also plan to co-host a charity skate event with the men’s and women’s hockey teams on December 12th. Elections for new leadership will take place on December 7th and I look forward to working with the newly elected manager for 2015. In 2015, the pep band will travel to Union and RPI on January 16 and 17, to Dartmouth and Harvard on February 14/15 and to Brown/Yale on February 27 and 28. We look forward to seeing you! I wanted to just end by thanking Alex and Michaela for being so fantastic to work with this year, I’m happy that the bands have been able work so closely and easily together! I’ve really had a great experience and I appreciate everything that the Big Red Pep Band and Marching Bands have done for me. Good luck to everyone next year!

— Michelle Yanda ’15, Pep Band Manager ‘14

Anita and Victoria – Pep Band Conductors

Alumni Relations

Hello Big Red Bands alumni! My name is Anita Mbogoni ’15, I’m a senior Biology & Society major, and this semester I’ve had the great honor of co-conducting the Pep Band. Some of you may remember me from last year, wanitahen I served as co-Alumni Relations Chair, and as Clarinet Section Leader. It was great to see so many of you at Red/White, and at the Frozen Apple hockey game at Madison Square Garden!

The Pep Band has sounded wonderful this semester! Though I once thought that I would be more rehearsal-oriented, I’ve come to look forward to our many events even more than I look forward to Mondays at 4:45 in the band room. The high level of energy – and the HUUUUGE wall of sound – that the band puts forth for the crowd is absolutely amazing, whether we’re playing at a Sunday morning field hockey game, a mid-week basketball contest (we won our home opener!), or in Lynah on a Friday night.

I’m very involved on campus, but nothing else is quite as fun, exciting, and rewarding as conducting the Pep Band has been this semester. As my time at Cornell comes to an end (less than 180 days until Commencement… scary), I know that I’ll have fond memories of my time in the Big Red Pep Band for many years to come.

-Anita Mbogoni ’15

Hey alumni! My name is Victoria Dye, I’m a Computer Science major in the class of 2016, and I’m lucky enough to be the other (younger) half of this semester’s pair of pep band conductors! As with many experiences in the band, nothing quite prepared me for the surprises it had in store for this semester. In the midst of meeting excited new members and getting ready for the start of hockey season, we found ourselves travelling to Colgate to play for a varsity football game, having more than 20 past conductors at the homecoming Red/White hockey game, and even playing at a wedding!

Maintaining our reputation as the best pep band around has been no easy task, but the band has, of course, been up to it. This semester, along with attending a wider variety of events, we’ve seen a variety folder additions, from new arrangements like “Crazy in Love” and “Come On Eileen” to revisiting old songs like “Sing Sing Sing.” No matter how difficult our music and rehearsals get, I’m constantly impressed with the band’s ability to put together a performance that gets everyone excited, no matter the event. That characteristic is what sets us apart from other (lesser) pep bands – we always know how to put on a show and, whether I’m waving victoriamy arms or playing as loudly energetically as possible on my trumpet, I’m proud of the role I play in that.

From the first time I sat out and listened to the pep band (it was the Alma Mater before Senior Night hockey), I have never gotten tired of hearing this band play. I’ve enjoyed my time as conductor immensely – not only do I get to listen to the band, but I get to share my enjoyment of what is probably the most fun you can have at Cornell with current members and alumni alike. More than anything, though, I look forward to watching and hearing the band continue to improve and always enjoy itself, and I hope you’ll all be there to watch it with me.

-Victoria Dye ’16

 The Band plays Halloween Medley on Halloween!


Around the Band: Section Shenanigans Part 2

Alumni Relations

The Big Red Flutes had another great season! One new thing we tried this year is Fall Fancy Flute. During an early September Tuesday rehearsal, the flutes dressed up in their best attire (formal dresses and suits) andflutes marched the rehearsal like nothing was different. (What can I say, we are super classy.) Musically, we had important roles in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and we even had a “solo” part for us in “The Incredibles.” Ok, we all played the solo because why would we deny the band and audience any flute sound? Finally, in order to celebrate the sesquicentennial at the last home game we did 150 flute ups! It was a full band effort, but we made it! Thanks for a great year!


The Saxes have had an awesome season. This year we had a HUGE freshmen class of more than 20 new saxes!  Additionally, we have introduced two new cheers into ousaxesr repertoire: Game of Thrones (Anita Mbogoni ’15) and Seize the Day (Courtney Stokes, PhD).  This has also been the season of many sax solis.  In the Broadway show, the saxes were featured in “Seasons of Love”, and in the Pixar show, Ben Siper (’17) and Sergio Preciado (’17) blew the audience away with an awesome duet in “The Incredibles”.  Thanks for an amazing season saxes!


The Clarinets had another amazing season. We got an awesome class of freshman (plus a junior transfer) who created a new tradition of all ordering strawberry smoothies after Thursday rehearsals from Libe Cafe, much to the bewilderment of the baristas. We’ve continuclarinetsed our long-standing traditions of laying down during Throwdown and Move 99 while parading, while also formalizing a few new ones, most notably: “Scatter-9” during Firebird and the “Swag-Surf” while parading. All in all, we had a great year full of shenanigans, laughter, and glazed ho’s!


2014 was a fantastic year for the only REAL Horn section in the Ivy League. We graduated our horn mommas of two years, but we’ve been under the strong leadership of our two horn dads, or “manmoms” as they are commonly known. This year, we have welcomed three freshmen and a junior transfer (the third straight year we’ve added a transfer studhornsent!) and they have all been fantastic additions to our horn family. We’re also proud to say that we are one of the best represented sections at pep band, as almost every single one of our members is active in the Big Red Pep Band. Whether it’s spontaneously creating new parade moves every game day, losing our voices at Lynah, pickle dancing or laughing at our absurd jokes, the horns will continue having wacky, yet memorable adventures with our band friends.

It was another exciting year for Da Bones of the BRMB! We were happy to welbonescome 10 new bones (and tones) to the section in August. Among them was the long awaited appearance of Chopper! We continued traditions like Talk like a Pirate Day, Night of the Unknown Bone and the weather during Hawaii 5-0 was actually a bit chilly.  Additionally, we’ve announced the relocation of Bonehouse. After 10 years in the current Bonehouse, we’re look forward to a fresh start at our new house, as well as the rest of the exciting events in the coming year.

The Big Red Tubae had an excellent 2014! We started the year with six new members (five freshmen and a junior transfer), making us quite possibly bigger (and uglier) than ever before. With the record growth in the past couple years, Rank ? was even reinstated, so that the tubae once again form ranks Hammer and Sickletubas! Many thanks to seniors Nate Floro and Kevin Mollica, who guided us through the trials and tribulations of 2014, and will be sorely missed. Looking to the future, Istvan Burbank ’17 is taking the reins as Liaison, and we couldn’t be more excited for next season!



The Trumpet Section has continued to be as loud and proud as ever. We were lucky to have a great group of new members join our ranks this season, bringing great new energy to the section! We held up our tradition of excellent performance on the field. This year our soloists included Melissa Harbert ’15, Schwegger Htrumpetsolmes ’15, Tim “Big Time” Coda ’16, Luigi Widom ’16, and Pinto Smith ’17. The Trumpets are also proud to have one of our own start her second term as Drum Major; congrats Michaela!

The Guard had a great season!


The Drum Line is still too cool to be in Band Notes!

drummers II


Freshmen and Seniors Share

Alumni Relations


We asked freshmen to share why they stayed with the band, and if they had any favorite traditions. Here’s what they had to say!

Well, I found the band when you guys hounded me on move-in day (so I guess you all found me?) and decided to stay because it quickly became my home. With the Big Red Band, I am unafraid of being myself and am surrounded by genuine friends who care about each other. I love meeting everyone, getting creative, and just chillin’. It really brings the whole band together! Marching band is and forever will be a passion of mine!

– Stephanie, Guard

I decided to stay in the Big Red Marching band due to the great atmosphere that it provided. On First Night, I decided that the band was the place to be. My favorite band tradition was meeting Josh.

– Erick, Tuba

During orientation week the band covered campus with “JOIN BAND! FREE HUGS! 200 INSTANT FRIENDS!” chalkings. Those chalkings weren’t kidding! Being a part of the Big Red Marching Band means joining a community of crazy-friendly-happy people. What’s not to love?

– Kristen, Flute

Marching band has become really important to me because it is a family away from home. Although I did not initially intend on joining, I can assure you it was the best decision I have made since coming to Cornell. I have found a place that makes me feel like I belong here.

– Grey, Bone

I decided to stay in the Big Red Marching band because of all the great music we get to play, but more importantly, I stayed because all of the people in my section (and in band in general) are so amazing and supportive! Ellen Patridge is the best!!!

– Kari, Percussion

I was originally unsure about doing marching band, but First Night and the awesome people of the trumpet section changed my mind. Oh and music and band are pretty cool, too. It’s hard to choose a single favorite tradition…. the parading traditions are the best (BRING THE NOISE).

- Mary, Trumpet


We asked seniors what thing they will miss the most, and if they have any favorite memories. We got some amazing responses!

One thing I’ll miss? The people. Always having friends around to have fun with not just in rehearsal, but for any activity. I feel that people in the band make any activity, regardless of what it is, about ten times more fun. My favorite memories? One of the two that I can think of are playing at the Montreal Alouettes game my junior year. It was my first time in Canada, and we performed maybe the best we ever have. The other was the last game my junior year, Jeff Mathew’s final game. Penn(SUCKS) had come back to make it 42-41 with a minute left, but on the extra point, the band screamed at the top of our lungs “SLIP AND DIE” and we blocked it, and we won the game.

–Andrew, Horn

More than anything else, I will miss the people I’ve met through the BRMB. For me, playing music is only a tiny part of what band is; the friends I have made and kept through my four years are something so much bigger than any show we could march. In particular, I will miss the Big Red Tubae, the best (and ugliest) friends anyone could ever have.

– Nate, Tuba

I’ll miss my trumpet family! We’ve all gotten to be really close so it’ll definitely be hard to be away. Love em!

– Michelle, Trumpet