Monthly archives "March 2017"

Notes from the Alumni Association

Alumni Relations

The Big Red Bands Advisory Council had its first meeting of the 2017-2018 term on February 25, 2017.  In attendance were the new advisory council membership and the 2017 student leadership.  As is typical, the meeting focused on financial stewardship of the Bands, with additional focus on advice and guidance for the Band leaders.  We reviewed this past fall’s Sy Katz parade – the first where the Alumni Association had an outsized role in its planning and organization – and developed a list of what should be maintained and what can be improved upon in November 2018.  Fortunately, there was broad consensus that it went fantastically, despite Drum Major Serge Preciado nearly having a heart attack when we had to add a few unscheduled blocks to the parade to beat the traffic!

Over the past few years, you’ve heard lots of positive news about gifts to the Band – YOUR gifts to the Bands.  From previous fundraising totals in the $55-65K range, we now target approximately $100K as our annual goal.  It would be easy to credit the addition of Giving Day (#remembertheband) for this change, but it’s thanks to the people to make those gifts: It takes dedicated alumni to give a second gift after the phonathon, to give if they haven’t done so in a while, or to increase their annual contribution if they are able.  This generosity has allowed the band to continue to thrive despite seemingly never-ending new financial challenges.  Over the past few years, the University has shifted to a new budget model that includes pushing out facility charges to individual units instead of covering these charges centrally.  Of course, this expense is compounded by costs associated with having a beautiful new building, such as the Band’s insurance (384% increase due to the new building), security expenses ($1100 annually for security cameras), utilities (projected to be $25k per year, but this year an additional $8k due solely to a leaky toilet that was not identified for several months).  Additionally, travel costs continue to increase.  Fall 2016 travel was 27% more expensive than Fall 2015, a very material rise that is expected to continue due to limited bus availability on busy Cornell sports weekends. Further, there are always new annual expenses that we feel are worthwhile (or necessary) investments to optimize student well being.  Most notably, you may be aware that despite the rising stock market, Cornell had a particularly poor performance of its endowment: You can read about this here and here.  Having weathered the recession reasonably well, we were looking forward to reaping the rewards of a larger return (the payout is based on a three-year rolling average of the endowment performance).  While our budgeting models will allow the Bands to operate, we were looking forward to the excesses that, alas, will not exist.

As mentioned in our last writing, David and Sarah Fischell have set up a utilities and operation endowment that will be fully funded in three more years.  We are especially thankful for this after their already demonstrating their transformative leadership with the Fischell Band Center (to say nothing of their insightful contributions to its design and recent enhancements).

Details of the 2016 fiscal year finances can be found here. At the end of the 2017 fiscal year we will be providing an update on the BRBAA webpage.  Our total expenses for the year appear to be an 18% increase from FY 2016.  We hope that our loyal alumni will continue to show the support through end-of-the-fiscal-year contributions that have allowed us to not only meet past expense increases but also generate a small boost to the band’s reserves.  On behalf of all the students, the Alumni Association leadership wants to thank each and every one of our supportive donors for helping to make the marching and pep bands the best bands in the Ivy League!

On a more somber note, you may have heard that Cayuga’s Waiters have been permanently dismissed from campus due to hazing activities.  While there have been no “incidents” of late from the student side, we think this is an important development.  Certainly current students don’t engage in anything close to what was described in the Daily Sun, but we all know that some Band traditions do not appear benign to observers, and at times, to students in the Bands.  Recent student leadership has done a commendable job in drafting and enforcing a code of conduct, and this news really drives home the point that there are no sacred cows.

One new initiative that was raised at the last Annual Meeting was the addition of networking and mentorship opportunities between BRB alumni and students (or older alumni and younger alumni).  For example, former Head Manager Emily Isenstein ’16 joined Alumni Association Chair Lowell Frank ‘99 MD ‘03 to observe his pediatric cardiology practice in Washington, DC.  Not all networking and mentorship needs to be in person; if you have expertise in a certain field and would be willing to speak with interested students over email or on the phone, that would be great too.  Certainly other career mentorship exists throughout Cornell, but there is something about the shared experience of being in the Band that may make these particularly useful.  Please contact Emily Isenstein ‘16 at if you are interested in talking to young alumni or current Band members!

Typically, we have our annual Alumni Association meeting on the Friday of Homecoming immediately following the Advisory Council meeting.  However, to allow as many people as possible to attend, we are considering moving it to Saturday morning after rehearsal – breakfast provided!  We know that many of you are either on your way to Ithaca on Friday afternoon or are making plans with friends.  We’d love to have as many attendees as possible to give you all an update and to get feedback on how you’d like the Alumni Association to work; please let me know if you think this is worth a try.  Either way, mark off October 20-22 on your calendars!

Until then, please feel free to contact the Alumni Association or the student leadership with questions or concerns.  And as always, thanks for your generous support that allows a new generation of Cornellians to have an amazing Big Red Band experience!


Chair: Lowell Frank ’99, M.D. ’03

Vice Chair: Brian Adelman ’09

Treasurer: Adam Mangano Drenkard ’11

Resource Chair: Nick Janiga ’00

Marching into 2017: Updates from the Head Manager

Alumni Relations

Hey Alumni! IMG_1429

My name is Kathleen Won, and I am incredibly honored to have the opportunity to be Head Manager of the Big Red Marching Band in 2017! I am a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, double majoring in Government and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I have been a member of the Flute section for two years and was Section Leader last fall semester. I am incredibly excited to lead the Band with Jeff, our new Drum Major, and the rest of Bandstaph this year and to make this experience as wonderful for others as it has been for me thus far.

Our spring season kicked off early in the semester with an event to celebrate the gift to the SC Johnson College of Business. The event was a success and helped spread the Band’s image, and we received praise from Fisk Johnson himself.

The middle of March was truly when the Band was able to begin its spring semester though, with Giving Day and Hotel Ezra Cornell in the same week. Giving Day was over a month earlier this year, on March 14th, and we worked hard to improve the quality of the livestream so that alumni and everyone else watching could enjoy our songs in crisp quality. Members of band braved the winter storm that gave Cornell it’s first snow day in two decades, which just goes to show how much everyone cares about this organization. Following that, we performed for the Hotel Ezra Cornell conference, trying something new with a performance for their evening gala over the weekend.

April was a busy month for the Band, starting off with three dates for Cornell Days, where we paraded and performed in warmer weather and spread Cornell spirit to the Cornell community and incoming students. We also participated again in Cornell’s Bring A Child to Work Day with an educational session for young students.

Spring concert was be April 22nd, at the Farmer’s Market! The weather cooperated and we had a bright and sunny day to play by the water and make some lasting memories.

Although there is still a long ways to go before our Fall season, I am anticipating an exciting time for Band. Homecoming is late this year on October 21st, but around that we are traveling to Yale, Princeton, and Penn(sucks). We are also looking into Pro games to play at, and hopefully, if all works out, we’ll be pulling out our passports for a trip to Canada.

All in all, I couldn’t be more excited for the months to come. I just love band so much, and I’m so happy to be able to give back. I’m looking forward to an incredible year!

- Kathleen Won ’19

Lots of Surprises for a Spectacular Year from Your 2017 Drum Major!

Alumni Relations

Hello Alumni!Jeff

My name is Jeff Crosby, your 2017 Drum Major! I am a junior Psychology major preparing to attend law school after graduation. Some of you may remember reading about me from my positions as 2015 Alumni Relations Chair and Fall 2016 Pep Band Conductor. My roots are from the saxophone section, but I still play as a member of the bone section in Pep Band. I have had an amazing experience in band so far, and I’m so excited to serve as Drum Major for this upcoming year!

The Marching Band was very busy at the start of the year when we were asked to do a surprise performance at the SC Johnson College of Business donation presentation and celebration in late January. Many bandsmen came and performed with us for this special occasion. The Johnson family was very happy and the guests were overwhelmed with the support that the marching band students showed at the ceremony. We were even featured on the Cornell University cover photo for a few days!

On March 14, (PI DAY!), the Marching Band and Pep Band had a very successful Giving Day Concert! Even though the university was closed and classes were cancelled for two days, our bandsmen braved through the winter weather to put on an amazing concert for alumni, family, and friends. The performance was excellent and we hope you enjoyed it. If you want to see the video, check it out on our BRMB Historian Youtube page!

Due to the bad winter weather, the first day of HEC was cancelled which meant the Marching Band was unable to do our annual small concert and march through Statler Hall. To make up for it, we did another surprise performance during the Hotel Ezra Cornell Banquet. We performed Cornell spirit songs, Pinball Wizard, and the Alma Mater for many alumni and donors. It was a great event!

During the past few weeks, we also held our first new music rehearsal. I am so excited for our plans for the shows next fall. We will be featuring some cool purchased arrangements as well as BRMB student arrangements. We are planning for a very diverse showcase of music including modern songs and hit classics! There is even going to be some bandsmen dancing, so get excited for that! For our Homecoming show on October 21, the homecoming song will be JCS!

We had many other events this spring including Cornell Days, service events, and our annual Spring Concert on April 22! We are having a very busy spring, but we are also actively preparing to welcome the Class of 2021 this August.
I look forward to seeing you in the future at our performances, reunion, and homecoming! Thank you for your continued support of the BRMB!

-Jeff Crosby ‘18

Managing Pep: To Lake Placid and Beyond

Alumni Relations

Hi Alumni!

My name is Susan Eichhorn, and I am happy to introduce myself as the 2017 Pep Band Manager.  Outside of band, I am a junior from Long Island, NY, who studies Biological Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  Within band, I am a member of the clarinet section and have previously served the bands  as ShowComm as well as Pep Band Historian.  I’ve always loved being a member of Pep Band, and although the position has been challenging at times, it has been a great way to give back to the organization.  Lucky for me, my conductors, Alex Fernandez ’19 and Snigdha Sharma ’18, have made my life all the easier with their awesome conducting and their infectious passion and enthusiasm for the Pep Band!

The Men’s Hockey team has had quite a season this year!  During our regular season run, we had two trips to Union/RPI and SLU/Clarkson.  Both of these trips were filled with a lot of winning and good times.  In our first home game of the semester, the Clarkson Pep Band came over to our side of the rink and played a few songs with us as a super band.  The amount of support we’ve received from hockey fans and parents has been overwhelming!  After our game at Clarkson, David Angello, father of sophomore player Anthony, provided the Pep Band with pizza for the bus ride home.  Additionally, Bill Gillam, father of our hero Mitch Gillam, asked the Pep Band seniors to play at a special event for the hockey parents- many of which gave the Pep Band a special shoutout!  Men’s Hockey finished their season in 3rd place, and after a week off, came back stronger and better than ever, defeating Clarkson in Quarterfinals. The Big Red had a great showing at Lake Placid for ECAC Finals, our first time back since 2014, making it to the Championship Game!  Next, we were on the road again, this time to Manchester, NH to take on UMass Lowell.  Unfortunately, our boys didn’t have as much luck, but the rest of the band had a great time cheering on our team and making our first appearance as the Cornell Pep Band at SNHU Arena.

Women’s Hockey has also found a lot of success this season, ending as Ivy League Champions!  After finishing in 3rd place in ECAC standings, they beat Colgate in Quarterfinals and moved on to ECAC Finals and NCAA Quarterfinals.  They continued making us proud to cheer them on all season and really showed the power of Big Red!

Next up for the Pep Band was lacrosse season.  Recently, weather has prevented us from attending the first few games this season, but we are ready to get back out there (quite literally), and cheer on our lacrosse teams!  This year, we also want to try to make it to more baseball games for the Big Red.  As long as the weather decides to cooperate, you can look forward to seeing a lot more of the Pep Band outside, working on our tans and supporting our teams.

If you’re ever back in Ithaca and are interested in visiting and playing with the pep band, please feel free to reach out!  My email is

-Susan Eichhorn ‘18


Lynah and Tigers and Bears: Adventures in Conducting the Pep Band

Alumni Relations


Hey alumni!

I’m Snigdha Sharma, one of your Spring 2017 Pep Band conductors! I’m a junior English major in the College of Arts and Sciences, and this is my fifth (and perhaps favorite) semester in pep band. Between the success of the men’s and women’s hockey teams, we have had quite an exciting season in 2017! I had the honor of conducting the ECAC championship games at Lake Placid, which was an amazing and unforgettable experience. My fellow conductor Alex then traveled with the band to UMass Lowell for the NCAA regionals to further cheer on the men’s team. Regardless of the outcomes of the games themselves, the band as usual had a blast! Alex and I have been working on expanding and revising the current music folder with both professional arrangements and student submissions — we’re excited for the opportunity to introduce some new and fresh music to the band in addition to treasuring the classics (Free Bird, anyone?). In the latter half of the spring semester, we made the transition from indoor events to outdoor events like men’s and women’s lacrosse, as well as multiple baseball double-headers. Despite inclement weather keeping us from playing at the first few men’s lacrosse games, we had multiple people tell us at the first game attended that we are their good luck charm (which we like to think is true)! From Lynah Rink to Lake Placid and more, conducting the Pep Band this semester has been the most unforgettable and valuable experience in my Cornell career so far. Watching the band grow and thrive and most importantly, have fun, is always the best part of the job. Being Pep Band Conductor has been an absolute honor this semester, and I can’t wait to see where this band goes in the future!

– Snigdha Sharma ‘18

Alex F

Hey Alumni!

My name is Alex Fernandez and I am one of the Spring 2017 Pep Band Conductors! I am a Sophomore studying Information Science, Systems and Technology in the College of Engineering. It’s been an awesome semester so far, working with Snigdha and Susan has been great and I hope I’m not making their lives too hard. The hockey team did well and even though we had a rough game at Lake Placid and a rougher game in Manchester, we were happy to travel with them to wherever they ended up (Thankfully not Fargo). Giving Day just happened and we loved putting on the awesome concert for you. We also had a lot of fun at basketball earlier this semester and even had the Penn band come up for a game. Our team may have had a tough game but the band always wins!  

We’ve managed to keep a large bunch of super talented freshmen and it’s been awesome helping them learn the folder and watching them get into all the Lynah traditions.  Speaking of the folder, we’re working on compiling and adding the cheersheet from the end of February and are excited to put that into rotation. Looking forward, we have tons of LAX coming up and even some baseball doubleheaders, so we’re hoping the warmth returns soon and actually stays this time.  

Balancing Conductor and Bone Section Leader has been immensely rewarding, especially when I can call up New World with twice the ability. From creating a super band with Clarkson way back at the end of January to fancy hockey to several super close and stressful playoff games, being Conductor has been amazing so far and I can’t wait to see you all during the rest of the season!

-Alex Fernandez ‘19


Section Shenanigans

Alumni Relations

image1The Flutes have been up to their usual shenanigans this semester! We had a cookie-making party at the beginning of the semester, watched a few movies together, and are looking forward to many more fun events. Several flutes stepped up to leadership positions in 2017: Kathleen Won is our (f)lovely head manager, Kristen Rose Baxter and Julia Klopfer are Alumni chairs, Diane Sutyak is a member of the show committee, and Laasya Renganathan is one of our publicity chairs! We can’t wait for the fall to bring us more marching band, more flute freshmen, and more fun.

clurinertsThe Clarinets have been keeping busy this spring semester despite not having many marching band events. We’ve been having a lot of fun with each other at unofficial events like our first ever cook-off! We also started playing Dungeons&Dragons together and spent an evening skating at Lynah. We enjoyed getting to play some of our favorite band songs at Giving Day (#remembertheband.) We can’t wait to begin preparing for next fall’s shows!

The Saxes are enjoying a relaxing spring semester! 15304155_10206099132437938_1139046157218870844_o (1)Since getting together in NYC over winter break (because who can go six weeks without any saxes, amirite?) and starting the semester with a minty cocoa movie night, most of us spend our weeks in Saxhouse hiding from the ever-changing Ithaca weather. We’re getting ready to test some brand new sax cheers for the coming season! In addition, the saxes may be creating a drum major dynasty with Jeff Crosby ‘18 becoming the 2017 Drum Major!

hornsThe Horns have been keeping busy since the end of the marching season. We were heartbroken when our exchange Dane, Amanda Laursen, had to return to her native Denmark. Many of us continued to play our horns in the Big Red Pep Band, where our very own Snigdha Sharma is conducting this season! Even so, we had fun donning our uniforms one last time for Spring concert!

The Trumpets have had a great start to 2017! Nonsec 2016We have continued to ascend to band leadership with Mary Amper ’18 as Trumpet Section Leader, Bethany Angeliu ’18 going from the second most powerful position in the band (Head Manager) to the most powerful position in the band (Spinmaster), Diana Herrera ’19 as too many bandstaph positions (and Trumpet Mom), Molly Bergin ’19 (a trumpet at heart) as Field Manager, Chris Sanchez ’20 as ShowComm Chair, Ponyboy Siper ’20 and Gabby Alvarez ’20 as Fundraising Chairs, and Spot Ellert-Beck ’20 as Webmaster. We’ve been waffle-frolicking, ice skating, hanging out with trumpet alums on pep band trips and in Ithaca, and playing as loud and high as ever. We will miss our seniors, Pinto Smith ’17, Saby Buch ’17, and Liz VanDenburgh ’17, as they graduate and move on to life after Cornell. We’ve become a younger section, but our future looks bright. We’re looking forward to the return of Pinto from the working world later this spring, having our trumpet formal at the classiest of establishments (Chi Buff), and to a great Fall 2017 season!

14712737_10103386541700085_1315623773027645743_oThe Bones are doing great this semester!  We’ve kept most of our freshmen and are have grabbed some more for pep band. We can’t wait for Cornell Days and marching season to roll around again. Bone Mugs are moving onto the design mock-up stage, so once we get that and approve it, we’ll be able to order again! Thank you so much to all of those who donated to save them! We’ve been hanging out with other sections a bunch and have generally still been the best section in the band. Please come visit us, we love you all so much, and we miss you!

The Tubae have had a fun semester so far,tuba pic even though there’s a lot less band going on! We’ve of course been continuing our Taco Tuesday tradition. This semester we have one tuba, David, abroad, and one tuba … on BOARD! That is, the pep band board! Our one and only freshman, Zach, has taken up duties as Pep Band Treasurer! Our seniors have been enjoying their last semester, and we’re getting ready for another FUN FUN FUN semester next year!

image1The Guard is hunkering down for the winter as we wait in anticipation for spring to come so we can bust out our silks once again. In the meantime, we have elected a new captain, Becca Rodell ’19, and re-elected our 2016 co-captain, Lauren Russo ’18, to lead the prettiest section in the Big Red Marching Band for the 2017 year. Also, congrats to Tara van Nieuwstadt ’20 for taking on the role of Publicity Chair (the legacy continues)! We are so excited to see what this year has to offer!

As usual, percussion is too cool to be in BandNotes!


Giving Day 2017

Alumni Relations

In celebration of Giving Day, the Big Red Marching and Pep Bands will be streaming a concert live from Fischell Band Center. Tune in to hear some of your favorites! The concert will begin at 7:30 PM EST on March 14th, and can be found at

The Bands have the opportunity to earn extra money by taking part in challenges offered throughout the day. The first 10 athletic teams to reach 100 *donations* can earn $5,000. We can also receive $2,500 for having the most donations ending in 3.14 by 9:00 AM.

There are also several social media challenges throughout the day. At 10 AM and 4 PM, a random post will be picked from Instagram or Twitter that uses the hashtag #CornellGivingDay. The winners of these challenges will be contacted privately and can choose where they would like these funds allocated. Both of these challenges could earn $2,500 for the Bands. Please consider helping us win these challenges by using this hashtag!

Check us out on social media to see all the band memories that we’ll be posting throughout the day. We love to hear your stories, so let us know why you’ll always #RememberTheBand. If you use the hashtags #RememberTheBand and #CornellGivingDay, you can help us win additional funds.


Find us at:

Big Red Bands Alumni Facebook group

Big Red Bands Alumni LinkedIn group

Big Red Bands Facebook page

Twitter: BRMB and BRPB

Instagram: BRMB and BRPB

YouTube: BRMB and BRPB

Historian Facebook pages: BRMB and BRPB