Latest News

Fundraising Update

Alumni Relations

Without alumni support, the bands would be unable to have so many wonderful opportunities to play, support our teams, and share our Big Red spirit. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped continue the Big Red Bands’ success. Both Phonathon and Giving Day were huge success thanks to your help. During phonathon, we raised over $38,000 for the Bands in two evenings of calling! $20,000 of this was from the first day alone and does not include all of the unspecified gifts we got, which means the number will go up even more! This is an all-time record! Alumni support goes so far to help the band and every gift is greatly appreciated and helps to make the band that much better. Giving Day further contributed to the bands! With the help of over 400 donors, we raised $25,000 for the bands; $5,000 of which was given by athletics for winning a donor challenge! We cannot thank you enough for your unwavering support and making all that the bands do possible
Additionally, our Fundraising Chairs have been hard at work. Caressa Swartz ‘21 and Peter VandeVort ‘21, Pep Band Fundraising Chairs, held a fundraiser at the much loved DP Dough, and raised over $200! We ordered so many calzones that we broke their ovens! Talk about commitment! Calios also reached out to us shortly after and an additional fundraiser will surely follow. There will also be bands merchandise available for purchase soon, so keep an eye on your inbox for more details on that to come in the near future.
Thank you again for your continued support!

Cornell University Indoor Drumline Featurette

Alumni Relations

Hello Alumni!
We are the Cornell University Indoor Drumline! Some of you may remember us from your years here (we were founded in 2006), but to reintroduce ourselves, CUID is a student-run winter percussion ensemble competing in the New York State Percussion Circuit. We are separate from the Big Red Bands, but much of our membership overlaps and we are grateful for the opportunity to rehearse under the same roof!
Our season usually begins as the marching band season winds down. We hold auditions before the end of the fall semester and use winter break to individually learn warm-up exercises as well as the show that we compete with in the upcoming season. We reconvene at the end of break to officially kick-off our season with Drum Camp, and then hold rehearsals throughout the rest of the season. We practice around 2-3 times per week in the Fischell Band Center in preparation for our competitions in upstate New York.
This season, we put on a showcase for the Cornell community in Barton Hall for the first time in our history! It was a successful event; we performed our 2018 show, Paradigm, to an audience as our first performance this season to increase awareness around campus about who we are and what we do. Our first competition was at Hilton High School the following weekend where we placed first in our class! We are currently continuing to clean and perfect Paradigm in preparation for the Championships competition at Onondaga Community College on Sunday, April 8th. If you are interested in learning more about us or would just like to see what we do you can go to our website at

-Cornell University Indoor Drumline

Section Shenanigans

Alumni Relations

6 Flutes
The Flutes have been having a flovely semester! We started with cookie-baking and have only had more fun since. We’d like to congratulate the flutes who stepped up to leadership positions for 2018: Julia Klopfer is Treasurer, Shan Parikh is a Publicity Chair, and Bridget Childs is Secretary. This semester, we’re looking forward to more events with other sections, Cornell Days, and the Spring Concert, and can’t wait for the return of full-fledged marching band in the fall!


7 Clarinets

The Clarinets have definitely been keeping busy this semester between Pep Band and some packed weekend activities. We just had an awesome Spring Clarinetini that went on forever (in a good way of course), and look forward to all of our events in the coming weeks. We’ve added some new ‘dance’ moves to a few Pep Band and Marching Band Songs- like stomping in You’re Gonna Go Far Kid (arranged by our very own Jeremy Miller!!) and The Hand That Feeds, and doing Susan’s weird dance move at the beginning of Sweet Child O’ Mine. Already, we’ve had a little bit of Marching Band this year with HEC Kickoff and Giving Day, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester has in store.

8 Saxes
The Saxes have been doing great this semester, and have been learning so much about each other as well as other sections. We’ve hung out with the likes of trumpets and trombones, and we’ll be chilling still with flutes, drumline, and others! We’ve been blessed to have an impromptu Slope Day 0.5 during a SaxHouse brunch, and celebrated the Eagles Super Bowl victory with a whole house read-along of the glorious “Eagles are Turning People into Horses” (eagles eagles eagles)! Many of us have been getting involved by writing new cheers and stepping up to leadership positions in the band. In fact, we have 8 members in 6 different bandstaph positions, including our lovely drum major Katherine Curtis ‘19 (Saxy DM dynasty part 3) this year!! We love to see this much excitement for the band and are looking forward to an awesome spring and fall semester!

10 Horns
The Horns are a busy group, but we have enjoyed seeing each other at weekly section dinners. We are so excited for our seniors, Snigdha Sharma, Sachi Koide, and Kristen Rose Baxter, to graduate, but will miss them terribly. They will go on to do great things! Despite being one the of the smaller sections, we have quite a few members that have stepped up to leadership positions. Kassandra Patrick ’21 as Equipment Chair, Carrie Rucker ’21 as Uniform Chair (BRMB) and Social Chair (PB), Maria Komorowski ’19 as Alumni Relations Chair (BRMB) and Historian Chair (PB), and Emma Jacob ‘20 and Kelly Grice ‘20 (also a ShowComm member) as your horny section leaders. Although many of the horns continue to be active in pep band, we are anxiously awaiting the upcoming marching season, and cannot wait to be (and waaahh) louder than ever!

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 1.44.30 PM


The Trumpets have had an awesome beginning to 2018! We continue to fill the ranks of Bandstaph with Ponyboy Siper ‘20 ascending to Trumpet Section Leader, Chris Sanchez ‘20 becoming the most powerful person in band (Spinmaster), Tips Han ‘19 baking his way to the position of Trumpet Mom, Jeff Van ‘19 as Head Field Manager, Justin Kozma ‘20 as both Uniform Chair and ShowComm Member (wow), and one of our pep band trumpets, Emily Grigg ‘21, as Publicity Chair! We also love pep band, which is why we have Emily Waite ‘21 as Pep Band Equipment Chair and Peter VandeVort ‘21 and Caressa Swartz ‘21, another proud pep band trumpet, as Pep Band Fundraising Chairs. We’ve been ice skating, Taco Bell eating, seeing trumpet alums on and off of pep band trips, and continuing to kick butt as the best section in the band. We will miss our seniors, Mary Amper ‘18 and Bethany Angeliu ‘18, as they graduate and move on to bigger and better things. Soon we will have our Trumpet Formal at everyone’s favorite Chinese Buffet, Slope Day, and a host of other outside gatherings. Our section’s future looks bright with a solid core of proud trumpet freshmen in the marching and pep bands, and we look forward to a fantastic Fall 2018 season!

11 Bones
Da Bones are off to a great start! Ji Ann Greenberg was elected as our new section leader for 2018, and Kevin Juarez-Leon is going once more around the block in the position. Our freshman are amazing gifts from the heavens to us, and you should all come back to visit and meet them! We miss you all! Cornell Days are around the corner, and we can’t wait to welcome and meet new naive faces; and the marching season will be here sooner than we expect it!! We are still working on sorting out Bone Mugs, so sit tight for that. Thank you for all of your gracious donations to make these orders possible. The company only has a weird 28 oz mug available and don’t know when the manufacturer will be able to produce the 32 oz mugs since they continued breaking in the kilns. But rest assured, we are working on it. Otherwise, you can find us playing Gang Beasts, frying stuff, enjoying milk and cookies, underboning, and having a good ol’ wholesome time. Please come visit us, we love you all so much, and we miss you!

IMG_6262 (2)
The Tubae are at it again, with a fun filled semester so far complete with all of the shenanigans that we always do. We’ve of course been continuing our Taco Tuesday tradition. This semester, we say goodbye to our much-appreciated Ed as he graduated after completing his MEng work. His legacy will certainly live on as our Freshmen, Coy, Eli, and Juan, and our Junior, but new to band Becky, have continued to amaze us every day. Our seniors have been enjoying their last few months as undergrads, and we’re getting ready for another INCREDIBLE semester next year! JK we are the tubae- we don’t get ready for anything haha

13 Guard
The Guard is ready to come out of our winter hibernation to spin together once again! Lately, we have been rocking our amazing matching knee socks and bonding with baking nights. How many different kinds of cookies can we make? Congratulations to Becca Rodell ‘19 on being elected Head Manager, we cannot wait to see you lead this band and do a truly great job! Within our own section, Tara van Nieuwstadt ‘20 was elected captain and Marlaina Gehret ‘20, co-captain. Many other members have also risen up the band ladder as part of our growing prominence in the band and Bandstaph, including Emily Grigg ‘21 as Publicity Chair (keeping the legacy going strong!), as well as Rachel Bradley ‘21 and Toni Sassano ‘19 as Social Chairs. The guard takeover of the band has begun! We cannot wait for the spring weather to air our silks again, but in the meantime we are looking forward to a fun year of awesome flag work and new traditions!

The Percussion as usual, too cool for BandNotes, but we snuck in a picture of them anyway.
14 Percussion

The Most Pep in Their Step: Spring 2018 Pep Band Conductors

Alumni Relations

Hey Alumni!

I’m Jordan Greissman, a senior Computer Science and English double major, and I’m Kristen Ajmo, a junior studying Environmental Engineering, and we’re your Spring 2018 Pep Band Conductors! Together, we form the collective, amorphous blob known as Jojmo. We’ve both been in pep band since we first came to Cornell and, while we started on trombone and clarinet, respectively, we both now play percussion when we’re not conducting.

5 Conductor a

Jordan “Jojo” Greissman

We’ve had a really exciting semester so far because many of our teams have been playing really well! In addition to our men’s hockey team, who made the ECAC and NCAA tournaments, our women’s hockey team made their ECAC tournament, and the men’s basketball team played in the Ivy League tournament in Philly! We’re incredibly excited to get to travel to support our teams and we know that the rest of the band is too! Many new freshmen joined the pep band this semester, too, after we had a very successful spring semester ClubFest!

We have been focusing a lot this semester on reintroducing some songs to the folder. We’ve found that there are a good number of songs that we’ve stopped playing over our few years at Cornell and have been trying to bring them back, based on the band’s feedback. A lot of these songs are on the difficult side, so the whole band has definitely been working very hard during rehearsals. We think that relearning these songs has been a rewarding experience, and getting to play them at games has really energized the band! The band seems to really be enjoying the challenges we’ve been giving them and has been sounding truly great!

Looking towards the back half of the semester, we are hoping to hold another Student Arranger’s Day, where we can try out some more experimental songs and see if the band wants to introduce them to the folder. We have a good amount of cheersheets and songs that have been sent to us since the last Student Arranger’s Day, so we think the later part of the semester is a good time to play through them all. We’re also really excited to get to start playing at outdoor events such as baseball and lacrosse!

5 Conductor b

Kristen “Kajmo” Ajmo

Getting to be a pep band conductor has been an incredibly fulfilling experience for both of us. We have been so honored and motivated by the enthusiasm and energy with which our band plays and cheers at these games. Watching the band grow and engage even more with the music over the course of this semester has really reaffirmed why we cJhose to run for conductor and love the pep band so much. We’re both very proud of this band and are immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to lead it!

-Jordan “Jojo” Greissman ‘18 and Kristen “Kajmo” Ajmo ‘19

A Great Season for Sports and Band from the Pep Band Head Manager

Alumni Relations

Hello Alumni!
My name is Zach Brothers, and I am incredibly happy to introduce myself as the 2018 Pep Band Manager! I am a sophomore who studies Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering . I am also on the Resistance Racing Engineering Project Team and an Eagle Scout from Cary, North Carolina. In marching band, I am a member of the tuba section (current tuba liaison) and I have previously served as Treasurer for the Pep Band. As you might imagine, being in this manager position has been challenging; however, I love what I do and I have great people helping me along the way. Speaking of which, my conductors, Jordan “Jojo” Greissman ’18 and Kristan “Kajmo” Ajmo ’19, have made my life all the easier with their incredible conducting abilities and their infectious passion and enthusiasm for the Pep Band!
Our Men’s Hockey team has had quite the historical season this year winning the Cleary Cup and the Ivy League Title! During our regular season run this semester, we had three trips to Harvard/Dartmouth, SLU/Clarkson, Union/RPI. All these trips were filled with wins and amazing memories that will last a lifetime. We were even ranked number 1 in the country for some time (the hockey team AND the band of course, since the band always wins). As per tradition with the Clarkson/SLU trip, David Angello, father of the hockey player Anthony Angello ‘19, provided the Pep Band with pizza for the bus ride home. As you can imagine, everyone on the bus was quite happy to receive free food. The Union/RPI trip had the first ever (that I know of) pep band post-game concert. Since our bus bottomed out and we had to wait for the tow truck to arrive, we figured the best way to spend the extra time was to make music with our friends and goof off. Needless to say, we had an absolute blast! Men’s Hockey finished their season as 1st place overall in the ECAC with the previously mentioned Ivy League Title and Cleary Cup. This year, the playoff series took us to Lake Placid, NY and Worcester, MA for the ECAC Championship and NCAA Regionals respectively.
Women’s Hockey has also found a lot of success this season, ending as Ivy League Champions and 3rd place overall in the ECAC! After making it to the ECAC semi-Finals game, our team unfortunately lost when Colgate scored with one second left on the clock. While it wasn’t the desired ending, the women’s team had quite the season and continued to make us proud. We cheered them on all year and backed them with the power of the Big Red Pep Band!
With hockey season coming to an end, our next sporting season is lacrosse. Recently, our packed schedule (and the snow) has prevented us from attending the first few games this season, however we’re excited to support Cornell Lacrosse with the pep band soon. 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, we will support our teams because WE ARE THE BEST IN THE IVY LEAGUE!!!!!!!
Please reach out to me ( if you are ever back in Ithaca or wherever we travel! We would love to welcome you back to the band that is far above Cayuga’s waters and have you play with us.
Hope to see you soon!
-Zachary Brothers ‘20
4 Head Manager PB

Marching Through the Snow: A Message from the 2018 Drum Major

Alumni Relations

Hey alumni!
My name is Katherine Curtis and I am your 2018 BRMB Drum Major! I am a junior Human Biology, Health, and Society (HBHS) major in the College of Human Ecology. After graduation, I plan on going to medical school with the goal of going into pediatrics. Last season, I served as one of the saxophone section leaders. Although I do miss playing, I am having the time of my life in front of the band, and still have the opportunity to pick up a saxophone every so often.3 Drum Major
Marching band recently came out of their winter hibernation by helping the Hotel School to celebrate the beginning of Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC). On a snowy Wednesday afternoon, clad in hats and gloves, members of the BRMB paraded down to the Statler and warmed up with our annual parade through the building. The event concluded with a short concert outside of the Statler Auditorium for the Introduction to Wines students. Members of our trumpet section were also invited to the Hotel Ezra Cornell Banquet to parade visitors to the ballroom.
We held our Giving Day Concert on March 20th, which coincidentally (or not!) occured on the International Day of Happiness. Because some students were unable to get out of class for HEC, it was great to have so many band members playing for the Giving Day Concert. Hopefully, you were able to spot some of your favorite dances during the livestream! We want to thank you all for listening!
The band has already been preparing for our upcoming fall season. Our Show Committee Chairs held our first ever spring marching clinic. This was designed for members who were interested in applying to Show Committee, as well as prospective rank leaders, in order to brush up on marching skills and help them understand how best to teach others proper marching technique.
In addition, we recently held our first music rehearsal! We are very excited about the music we have chosen for our shows and will be working hard to make it sound great. We are lucky to have a group of dedicated student arrangers who will be working on the songs that are in two of our shows! They have put in a lot of hard work to make our shows unique. Homecoming will be on September 22nd, and we are excited to announce that our homecoming song this year will be Conquistador!
As the snow starts to melt, we look forward to the other events in the coming months! Many of our members discovered the BRMB during Cornell Days, so we are excited to get back to Ho Plaza and play for all of the prospective students. April 21 marks the day of the Spring Concert! If you will be in town, our concert will take place in the Ithaca Commons. The Big Red Marching Band has a lot to be proud of in the work we’ve done in the past year and I am so excited to see what the band has in store for the season. I hope to see everyone at these future events! Thank you for all of your continued support!
Katherine Curtis ‘19

New Year, New Marching Band Head Manager

Alumni Relations

Hey Alumni!

New year, new head manager (it’s not too late to use that right?). Well anyway, my name is Becca Rodell, and I have the pleasure of being your 2018 BRMB Head Manager. When I am not trying to orchestrate events from the top of Kite Hill, you can probably find me in my lab in Biotech (which provides quite the nice view of the band room) doing research on C. elegans. That’s right, you guessed it- I am a biology major, concentrating in cell and molecular biology because what is more interesting   than figuring out the mechanisms behind this beautiful system of life? I’ll be graduating in December of 2018, so that makes me either a second semester junior or first semester senior, depending on your perspective. After graduation, I’ll be heading off to a different (to be determined) university to work on a PhD, because I just really love learning a lot. Almost as much as I love the guard, my home section, where I had the privilege of being Captain in 2017. Now I get to run the whole band, and I cannot be more excited for what this year has in store.

We’ve had a slow start this year, as it normally happens with the spring semester. You probably heard from us a lot between Phonathon and Giving Day, which were MAJOR successes by the way! We set a new record for Phonathon, absolutely smashing the previous one. Giving Day was helped by the new fundraisers campaign, which brought in more donors than ever before. Thank you to the 411 donors that participated in Giving Day by helping to raise the bands nearly $25,000, money that will help fund our travel, instruments, and good cheer throughout the year! As always, none of this would be possible without your gracious gifts to the Big Red Bands and any other way you show your support. We are forever grateful for every last bit of time, housing, or funds that you’re able to give!
More events started to kick-in during March, as potential rank leaders and show committee members marched forth on March 4th (I’m not sure who picked the date, and I’m not sure if I like it) to dust off marching skills and prepare for taking on active roles in the fall. Our learning then continued with a Bandstaph meeting, where a presentation from Cornell Health was given, entitled Notice & Respond: Friend 2 Friend. We learned about how to recognize mental health struggles in our peers and ways to support them through rough times. These valuable skills will hopefully not only make us better bandsmen, but better people too.
March also featured our annual performance at Hotel Ezra Cornell, where we kicked things off with a Wednesday parade through Statler Hall. Even though it was the middle of March, Ithaca weather still decided to snow on us! On Saturday, the trumpet section had a featured performance, leading a second parade through Statler Hall. Thank you to Bethany Angeliu ‘18, Spot Ellert-Beck ‘20, and Patrick Bem ‘21 for being our performers featured that evening.
Now we are in April, looking forward to the true gems of the spring semester: Cornell Days and Spring Concert. We will be performing on Ho Plaza on April 13th, 16th, and 19th to indoctrinate and recruit prospective students, convincing them that they need to come to Cornell just for the Only REAL Marching Band in the Ivy League™ . Our Spring Concert will be held on April 21st, where we will be returning to the Ithaca Commons. Band members are just itching to get back to proper parading and concerting, and I cannot wait to begin my term as ladder and mace holder for Katherine Curtis ‘19. We will wrap up the month of April with Bring a Child to Work Day, where we will get to educate the youngins on the fundamentals of being part of a marching band.
The spring semester will then slowly drift off into summer, where we will see some of our wonderful alums at Reunion on June 7th – 10th. Hopefully we will all make it through the dog days of summer until band returns in August. It’ll be a tough time waiting for the band’s return, but thoughts of an extended O-week, a new football schedule, and new members of the BRMB family will tide us through.
I cannot wait for all that this year still has in store. Hopefully Reunion (June 7-10) and Homecoming (Sept 22- mark your calendars!) will bring many of you back to Cornell and the BRMB. If not, catch us on the road to Brown, Princeton, and Columbia this fall.
It sure is going to be one fun, incredible adventure of a year!
- Becca Rodell ’18.5Becca Rodell at HEC this March

February Update

Alumni Relations

Hello Big Red Bands Alumni!

After a fall semester full of marching, dancing, and everything in between, the Big Red Bands are getting ready for an even better 2018!

Here’s some of what the bands will be up to this Spring:

The Annual Big Red Bands Phonathon will be on February 11th and 18th. Keep an ear out for a call these Sunday evenings from one of the current band members! We love talking to you and hearing your stories about your time here! We are beyond thankful for your generous support throughout the years. If there is a different way that you would prefer to give to the bands, you can either follow this link or contact the Fundraising Chairs Cody Kitzinger ‘21 ( and Evan Tart ‘21 ( with any questions/concerns.

The Big Red Pep Band may be coming to a rink near you! With the success of the men’s hockey team the band will be accompanying them on two scheduled trips this spring.

February 9th-10th: Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University
February 23rd-24th: RPI and Union College

Also, you may have heard about how well our hockey team has been playing! For the first time in 15 years, Cornell’s men’s team was temporarily ranked number one in all of NCAA D1 hockey! Although no longer ranked first, there is still a good chance our hockey team may make it to the playoffs, which would include two more possible trips:

March 16th-17th: Lake Placid ECAC Championships
March 23rd-24th: NCAA Regionals Playoffs either in Allentown, PA; Bridgeport, CT; Sioux Falls, SD; or Worcester, MA

Some other events this spring include:
Giving Day: Tuesday, March 20th with a concert that evening! This will be live-streamed, so make sure to tune in!
Cornell Days: Concerts sometime in the middle of April
Spring Concert: The afternoon of Saturday, April 21st.
Bring a Child to Work Day: April 26th

Mark your calendars with these fun events in upcoming seasons:
Reunion Weekend: June 7th-10th
Homecoming Weekend: September 21st-22nd
We look forward to seeing you and welcoming you back to your ever-growing band family!

As the year is new, so is the Bandstaph! Our 2018 Head Manager and Drum Major are Becca Rodell ‘19 and Katherine Curtis ‘19, respectively. And now, introducing the only real Alumni Relations Chairs in the Ivy League: Maria Komorowski ‘19 ( and Natalie Parker ‘20 (! Maria is a Nutritional Science major from Erie, PA. Last year, she served as one of the horn section leaders, as well as pep band historian. Natalie is a French and Biology-Nutrition major from Ridgefield, CT who is in the clarinet section and when not at band is on the eboard for MEDLIFE, a pre-med club! We are so excited to serve the band in this role, and hope to make your time back on the Hill as alumni as great as your time as students here. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions and comments. We look forward to hearing from you!

Warm Regards,

Maria and Natalie

AND NOW, Your Fall 2017 BandNotes!

Alumni Relations

red-white 2017

[Fall 2017 Red-White Hockey! Photo by Ned Dykes]


And now presenting the only REAL fall 2017 BandNotes in the Ivy League!

As always, the season has been filled with unforgettable performances, freezing rehearsals, and great friendships. We recruited a group of fantastic new members and celebrated our graduating seniors at senior concert and nonsectarian. While we cram for our finals, take a peek through the enclosed articles to see just what we’ve been up to in the last few months.

Notes from the Alumni Association Chair

Financial Updates from the Alumni Association

Marching out of 2017: Updates from the Head Manager

A Fond Farewell from Drum Major Jeff Crosby

Putting Pep in Our Step: Reflections from the Pep Band Manager

From Lynah to IC and MSG: Conductors Review Fall 2017 in the Big Red Pep Band

Section Shenanigans

Cornell Alumni Pep Band takes Quinnipiac University by Storm

Life Beyond Cayuga’s Waters: Fall 2017 Alumni Beat

It’s been a great year serving as your alumni relations chairs. In 2018, Julia will go on to serve as Treasurer of the BRMB and Kristen Rose will become old and leave the hill to pursue graduate study at Duke.

All the best,

Kristen Rose Baxter ‘17.5

Julia Klopfer ‘20


Julia and KR dancing to THRILLER in The Undead Show!

Notes from the Alumni Association Chair

Alumni Relations

Earlier this year, members of the Big Red Marching Band expressed in interesting in expressing solidarity with the protests taking place during the Star Spangled Banner at NFL and other sporting events throughout the country.  This was reported in the Cornell Daily Sun, and the issue at hand was discussed by the football team and on campus shortly thereafter.

Briefly: band members approached the student leadership, who then went to discuss this with the Athletics administration.  As you can imagine, the issue of protests on campus, while frequently an important discussion in University life, had become even more prominent recently.  The Athletic Department decided to permit this, and members of the Alumni Association leadership became aware of the matter after the first two games of the season.  We spoke to the student leadership, who described the above timeline of events.  In full disclosure, given the often rocky relationship between the Band and Athletics, our primary concern at that time was the reaction of the administration. I later spoke to Steve Caraher, the Band’s advisor in Athletics, who confirmed that the department granted permission.  As this was most certainly a day-to-day management issue and the students had gone through proper channels, we (the alumni leadership) decided to defer this issue to them.

Shortly before Homecoming, I was contact by two alumni who expressed serious concern about this matter.  Their concerns included the specific politics of this protest, but also the issue of politics of any type being interjected into BRMB performances.  Because members of our Alumni Association had expressed concern about current Band practices, I committed to discussing it at the upcoming Advisory Council meeting.  As a reminder, the Advisory Council includes elected Alumni Association leadership, at-large alumni members, and the Drum Major, Head Manager, Marching Band Treasurer, Pep Band Manager, and Pep Band Treasurer.  At the meeting, we were particularly explicit in encouraging the students to speak up in order to educate the alumni about the current environment in the Band and how the students – those protesting and those not – feel about the issue.  It is obviously impossible to fully reflect the varied and nuanced opinions of any group, let alone such a large one.  However, our role is at most an advisory one, not a supervisory one, and having an understanding of the current climate in the Band is critical to discussing issues such as this.

You’ll note that I haven’t said much about what was being protested.  I’m sure you are all familiar with the gist of it – Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, and since then, many athletes have followed suit.  Supporters of the protest say they are drawing attention to systemic racism and injustice against people of color, while critics say the demonstration is disrespectful to our country, its flag, and our servicemen and women.  While these perspectives were discussed at the Advisory Council meeting, they were a minor component.  We spent a bit more time discussing the issue of the Band displaying a political stance at all, but any political discussion was secondary.  Most of our discussion centered on the concerns voiced by student leadership.  Some of them noted that the musical quality had suffered, as the protest included over 30 people.  It had gotten to the point where they considered not playing the anthem at all due to concerns about their sound.  There were also concerns about student safety, as some Band members had been subjected to verbal abuse (Athletics addressed this by increasing security around the Band – so much so that because I didn’t have my trumpet, they initially wouldn’t let me on the field for halftime of Homecoming!).

We discussed what we thought other alumni might think of this protest and if this might affect support for the Band (this too was not much of a focus, but the hypothetical discussion was valuable).  Alumni leaders wondered what the endpoint was – would this continue in perpetuity as “tradition”?  We also discussed an individual’s right to express him or herself as well as what it means to be a member of a larger organization.  While the protest was done by individuals in the Band and not the group as a whole, we all agreed that having members in uniform on the sideline during a performance made that a distinction without a difference.  Additionally, as the protest involved not playing (as opposed to what the University of Maryland Marching Band has done), we also drew the distinction between kneeling during the national anthem and being the group responsible for performing the anthem.  Some people pointed out that this was more akin to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee on third down, not during pregame.  Other potential expressions of solidarity were also discussed, as well as the hypothetical question of how students in the band would react if a cause more typically associated with the political right was being protested at football games.

At the end of the meeting, we came to a consensus on the Advisory Council’s position, which is:

Given student concerns about performance quality and student safety, the potential effect on Band unity, and the general apolitical nature of the Big Red Bands, we prefer that the protest not continue in its current form.

If that sounds somewhat soft to you… well, you’re right.  We respect the passionately held opinions of the students who initiated this protest and the alumni who contacted me, and we have no interest in demonizing anyone on either side.  As alumni, we also understand that college is exactly the time when young adults are exploring their core beliefs and issues such as this one help develop the values that will carry them through life.  We also did agree that the Band is best when it is focusing on its core mission and not politics.  Most importantly, we are 100% committed to the importance of student leadership in the Big Red Bands and left any potential discussions and future actions up to the students.

In all honesty, we didn’t expect anything to change for the game on Saturday.  However, during the annual general BRBAA meeting the next morning, the Head Manager came to us during the discussion of this issue and announced that the Band would no longer allow protests on the sideline during the playing of the national anthem.  Students who wished to protest would be allowed to, but they would be asked to refrain from participating from the on-field pregame performance and carry out their protest in the stands.  I believe this decision was meant to respect an individual’s right to protest while acknowledging that those rights may be limited when a part of a larger group.  I believe it was also intended to reduce the attention drawn to the Band as a part of the protest.  Student leadership informed me that when faced with the choice, some students decided not to protest.  Unfortunately, I’ve also heard that a few students have chosen not to be in the Band anymore as a result.

This last part makes me profoundly sad.  We all know how important the Big Red Bands were and are to so many of us, and the fact that there is an issue that may interfere with that for some current band members is upsetting.  I hope that all the reasons that cause people to join Band in the first place are the reasons they stay, and disagreements about how they can express their views when functioning as a part of the group can be respectful, can be an ongoing discussion, and don’t overrule everything else.

Some of you may wonder that if a key factor in our position (and presumably the student leadership’s decision to recommend a change) was performance quality, why did they change things so that fewer students were available for the pregame show in addition to the anthem?  All I can say is that this is an imperfect solution to an imperfect situation; however, I feel that the student leaders addressed this very difficult issue appropriately each step of the way. I imagine there are alumni and possibly current students that may disagree with that and may truly dislike the process and/or the outcome – I hear you.  As time goes on and student leadership changes, there may be changes in what happens, and that is their right.  As alumni, we will fulfill our roles of providing fiscal and leadership advice, but the Band is not ours to run.  This article does not do justice to all the viewpoints that were expressed, and one of my points in this whole matter is that details and nuance matter.  We are clearly living in a charged socio-political climate, and I’m looking forward to returning to arguing about whether it is the trumpets or trombones that truly suck.

Just kidding, it’s the trombones.


by Lowell Frank ’99, ‘03

Financial Updates from the Alumni Association

Alumni Relations


The Big Red Bands operate on an annual budget of approximately $170,000. Aside from a small, past subsidy related to the Band Center, the University does not provide any annual support to the Band. In general, all band expenses, including travel costs, music advisor compensation, instruments, and Band Center costs are supported by annual alumni giving and payout from the Band’s endowment funds.   Each fiscal year the BRBAA Advisory Council establishes a budget for the Bands’ operations based on student and alumni input. This budget is presented to Band Alumni at the annual Homecoming BRBAA meeting. The following summary provides highlights of the fiscal year 2017 financial results and the fiscal year 2018 budget.

Fiscal Year 2017 Performance

Overall, the Band had FY17 income of $164,469 and expenses of $187,060. While income was 12% higher than budgeted, expenses were 35% higher than budgeted.

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Fig 1: FY 2017 Income and Expense budgets vs actuals. Performance significantly off from planned budget.

The Bands’ annual expenses have continued to rise as a result of the opening of the Band Center as well as increased operational needs. While annual giving increased in 2015 with the introduction of Cornell Giving day, annual income has not kept pace with expense increases in the past several years.

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Fig 2: Historical annual income and expenses. Expense increases outpace annual income trends.

Income Statement

The Band Endowment payout continues to grow, due in large part to a growing utility endowment and past share purchases, with the actual payout of $51,869 tracking 17% above budget, and 19% above FY16 payout amounts. Total gifts of $93,162 were 7% higher than budget, but actual FY17 gifts were $10,000 less than FY16. We are conducting additional analysis to better understand factors contributing to year over year gift fluctuations. Pep Band SAFC funding was $3,325 less than budgeted due to the PB missing a submission deadline. The bands benefited from a final University maintenance support subsidy of $6,000 toward utility charges. As of FY18, the Band is fully responsible for all building related charges. We anticipate the fully funded commitment to the Band Center utility endowment in FY 2020 will generate between $50,000 and $55,000 per year, covering most of the increased building utility expenses and maintenance charges.

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Fig3: Band Income Sources. The Bands rely primarily on annual alumni giving for operational funding.

Expense Summary

The Bands saw increases in every expense category from budget expectations. Marching Band travel was 120% of budget, equipment expenses were 125% of budget, uniform expenses were 232% of budget. Insurance and building overhead were being incorrectly budgeted in the past. This has been corrected going forward. Equipment was over budget mostly due to planned raincoat purchases and percussion equipment expenses. Pep Band travel was 25% over budget due to an unbudgeted Yale/Brown hockey trip.

Bus expense is a specific area of concern for the band. Harvard bus costs in FY17 nearly doubled the cost from two years ago and Columbia buses increased 30%. Bus expenses increased 40% for FY18 compared to the bus costs for the same travel in FY16. The Band is working with the new Cornell Athletics travel coordinator in an attempt to address this concerning trend for future travel.


The Band budgets a $21,000 yearly reserve expense to spread out the costs of uniforms, sousaphones and percussion purchases. Uniforms are on a 12 year purchase cycle, sousaphones 3 years and percussion 5 years. Due to the FY17 operational deficit, the Band was unable to put any new funds into the reserve.   However, the BRBAA Advisory Council hopes to make this deficit up by postponing scheduled purchases in future years due to the positive state of these assets.

Net Financial Standing

The Band’s current endowment value stood at just over $1 million as of July 1, 2017. Endowment shares payout based on the University Board of Trustees payout policy which considers a rolling performance average. The FY18 payout is $2.58 per share, down from $2.75 per share in FY17. Last year we moved approximately $21,000 from reserve accounts into the endowment to take advantage of market performance. Reserve accounts earn no interest. Cash as of July 1 stood at $61,000 and an additional $72,000 in booked equipment reserve is held in the endowment, representing approximately 6.5% of the total endowment value.

The Band received an unexpected $100k endowment gift from a donor this Fall. This new endowment fund is expected to provide approximately $5,000 in annual income for the band budgets in future fiscal years.

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Fig 4: Endowment Value and Total Number of Shares. Endowment Value is a function of the number of shares and share value. The Band is the beneficiary of the Fischell Endowment Fund, created to offset annual operational costs of the Band Center.

Fiscal Year 2018 Budget

After a careful review of expenses and band needs, the BRBAA Advisory Council submitted a break even budget for FY18 based on $170,000 of income and expenses. The FY18 budget includes expenditures for four security cameras in the Band Center, travel costs for three Marching Band trips and 4 Pep Band trips, $15,000 in Pep Band playoff expenses, and $29,000 of Band Center overhead charges. Annual band giving has been budgeted even with FY17 and is expected to be the most critical component leading to the success or failure of breaking even at the end of the year. Student and Alumni leaders are committed to continued diligence in carefully managing organizational expenses to avoid a repeat deficit like FY17.  Alumni with financial questions are encouraged to get in touch with Adam and Nick, the BRBAA Treasurer and Resource Chair, respectively.

Let’s go Red,

BRBAA Treasurer: Adam Mangano Drenkard ’11 (

BRBAA Resource Chair: Nick Janiga ’00 (

Marching out of 2017: Updates from the Head Manager

Alumni Relations

Hey Alumni!Kathleen

What a year it has been– for both the band and myself! It has been an honor leading the Cornell University Big Red Marching Band with Jeff. As the year comes to a close, I can reflect upon my experiences with a true sense of gratefulness. It may have been exhausting at times, but the position has allowed me to grow so much as both a leader and a friend. My love for the Band has only increased, and I am so happy that I have another year and a half to be a part of this incredible organization.

The start of the season was a whirlwind of activity, with recruitment yielding a wonderful freshman class, several of whom are now members of our 2018 Bandstaph. Soon after First Night and Band Camp, we got fitted for uniforms in what seems like record time– in less than a week!– and we were able to perform at the Inauguration of Cornell University’s 14th President Martha Pollack. It was an honor to be a part of such a momentous occasion in Cornell’s history, and it was a fantastic event to start the season out with. Soon after, we participated in a new joint event with the Pep Band at CU Downtown, where we performed in the Commons to Ithacans and Cornellians alike.

Our first football game of the season was an away game at Yale. This was followed by a stretch of four home games, which included the exciting Homecoming game versus Brown in late October. Our biennial performance at Herald Square in New York City was an excellent first part of the Princeton away trip, and the Band celebrated with the football team at the exciting conclusion of the Princeton game. After a week’s break, we finished the season off with our last home game against Columbia and our last away trip to Penn(SUCKS).

I am extremely proud of the Band and how much we have grown this year– as musical performers and as an organization. It has been challenging for all of us, but I believe that we are in a good place and I am very excited for the start of the new year. One of the greatest honors of my life has really been having the opportunity to serve the Marching Band and being able to create the same experiences for the Band that I have enjoyed so much during my time at Cornell. Following the first of January, I will be returning to the field to march and play the flute for my last year with the only REAL marching band in the Ivy League, and I could not be more excited to see what great things are in store for next year.

Kathleen Won ‘19