What 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 the 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