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Marching band wins music award

Nicole Michels | Monday, October 10, 2011

Though Notre Dame was awarded the 2011 Sudler Trophy, Notre Dame Marching Band Director Ken Dye said the award represents years of dedication from band members and staff.

“The Sudler Trophy is for a band that historically has been at the forefront of college bands in terms of music, innovation and supporting the American way of life,” Dye said. “We’ve worked hard over a number of years with the band members who have gone through the program and with the past directors of the program. Winning the trophy is a huge achievement.”

The trophy was officially presented at halftime during Saturday’s football game against Air Force. The trophy, presented by the John Philip Sousa Foundation, is the top national honor for collegiate bands. It can only be received once, and the receiving program keeps the award for two years.

Head drum major senior Matt Roe said winning the trophy felt amazing.

“I was actually in the band building when we received the phone call saying that we were going to be awarded the trophy,” he said. “The excitement was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.”

Roe said that the band’s greatest strength is the commitment of its members.

“There are times when we’re learning three different shows at the same time,” Roe said. “Just to be able to remember it all, and to go to practice every day with the frame of mind that we’re going to have fun at practice while still keeping in mind that we have a job to do is a challenge. The commitment of everyone involved is inspiring, and it’s a lot of fun to perform at every football game.”

Dye said the band focuses on developing a halftime show that can reach every demographic within the audience.

“We focus on continual innovation, and we try to do things that visually connect to the audience,” Dye said. “If we do something on the field, the audience can try to guess what it is and to participate in the show as it evolves. We also try to pick music that is appealing to all of the generations of Notre Dame fans, with a particular focus to the music that is appealing and recognizable to our students.”

Senior piccolo player Laura Taylor said the band’s motto encapsulates the spirit of the band and was a big part of what makes the band special.

“The band’s motto is tradition, excellence and family,” Taylor said. “We have such a great love for Notre Dame, and that infuses everything we do. We are really cognizant that we are representing the University, and we all really love the tradition that we are continuing. The camaraderie in the band also motivates us to work hard at everything we do.”

Dye said the band will continue innovating and working hard.

“Music is one of those things at which you never can really achieve perfection; you’re always working to do it better,” he said. “We try to stay abreast of the changes in music and the current events that can be adapted to visual formations on the field. We intend to get better every year.”