The bound collection of past Campus Times issues from 2004 scrapes through dust as it is pulled off the shelf and propped open to the issue marked Feb. 4. The front page of the newspaper has yellowed significantly since its time of publication ten years ago, but the black and white pictures remain clear.
At the bottom center of the page, a photo of an unusual ensemble stands out from the text. A gaggle of students stand on a set of bleachers in what appears to be the gym. The students in the photo are all in normal street clothes, not yet supplied with uniforms.
All are focused intently on their instruments and none look directly at the camera. The flutes, clarinets, guitar, trombone, and bongo drums are all in the front with the other players hiding in the back. The caption reads: “Pep Band Together for First Time”.
In smaller text, it explains that the pep band will be performing for the Men and Women’s basketball games and will provide musical interludes after scores and fouls to pep up the crowd. The students are not smiling, but they are almost certainly enjoying themselves. They get to play music for an excited crowd and even when the team is losing, can help people still enjoy the game.
Now, ten years later, the pep band has hardly changed. A new set of approximately 35 students fill the stands with their instruments, all of them sporting bright, striped, rugby-style shirts. The current conductor, Jon Strumpf, stands in front and gives them the cue to begin.
Strumpf is an undergrad that was involved in Drum Majors while in high school. Greg Savich, who left at the start of the
who left at the start of the semester, previously conducted the group. He is finishing his PhD in Optics and will soon be leaving Rochester. He had been with the group since its rebirth in 2004.
The music is a mix of classic big band music and tunes people often recognize. Favorite hits include “Skyfall,” “Carry On Wayward Son,” “The Impression I Get,” “I Love Rock and Roll,” “Jump,” and “Starships.” “We try to mix traditional and non-traditional music,” trumpet player and sophomore Michael Myers said.
Sophomore Danika Teverovsky, co-president of the club, said her favorite part of pep band is playing with the other members of the group that are all there because they love the music. “We’re passionate about the music, but also about enjoying playing it. It’s fun!” she said.
Myers agreed, saying he enjoys the atmosphere of the group. “It’s a good group of people,” he said. “We get together, have fun, and play music. It’s a fun way to keep playing the trumpet.”
According to the group’s mission statement, the purpose of the pep band is to “provide music, entertainment, and an atmosphere of enthusiasm at official University events. Such events will include sporting activities, parades, rallies, and public performances.”
Currently, they are performing at all of the home basketball games and are hoping to perform at other University events this semester. They also performed at move-in day for the new students last semester.
Pep band is a significant time commitment for all students involved. The group rehearses every Thursday evening at 8pm in Douglass Dining Center. Members are also encouraged to practice their music on their own outside of rehearsal. For UR students with an already full schedule, this is often a challenge. “My building has a practice room in it, so it’s nice to not have to go outside to practice, but even that doesn’t always help,” Teverovsky said.
The only aspect of Pep Band the members say is stressful is the number of games they are asked to play at, sometimes up to four in a weekend. “By the end of the weekend, I usually have lost my voice from cheering and playing. But [basketball] is my favorite season,” Teverovsky said.
New members are invited to stop by during rehearsal – no audition is required to join. “When I was a freshman, I heard the pep band rehearsing,” Myers recalled. “I walked in and said ‘Hey, can I join you?’ We are always looking for new people.”
The UR Pep Band has no plans of stopping anytime soon. The group recently celebrated its 10th anniversary by going out for milkshakes at Jay’s Diner – a classic pep band hangout spot – but was back to work last Thursday night. They will continue to expand as the years go on by adding more members and playing at more events all over campus.
Members will be drawn to join the group because of the enthusiasm of its members. “I dedicate my time to Pep Band because it is filled with passion, and that makes it fun and intrinsically important to me,” said Teverovsky. “Pep Band has this energy that is contagious, and I want to be able to extend that passion and energy to those around us on campus, including the athletes we cheer on and the fans we provide entertainment for!”
Sanguinetti is a member of the class of 2015.