WMU News

Bronco Marching Band releases triple centennial CD

Dec. 12, 2003

KALAMAZOO--Performances spanning three decades by the Western Michigan University Bronco Marching Band have been captured on a new, triple compact disc commemorating the University's centennial.

Called "The Centennial Celebration," the collection encompasses everything from pop tunes by Michael Jackson and traditional marches by John Philip Sousa to the WMU Fight Song and Alma Mater as well as various chants and drum cadences played regularly at Bronco sporting events. Much of the music was performed from 1998 to 2002, but selections go as far back as 1974.

The first disc includes the band's patented pre-game show and a section of stand cheers that have become so familiar to Bronco sports fans. The disc also includes highlights from the 2002 season. The second disc includes patriotic music and highlights from the 1998, 1999 and 2000 seasons. The third features several highlights from 1994, then steps back in time by playing one to three selections per year, finally ending with the "Russian Sailor's Dance" from 1974. Many former band members will actually be able to hear a piece on which they performed.

"We wanted to see how far back we could go," says Dr. Robert Spradling, WMU professor of music and director of bands. "We had hoped to include performances from the 1950s and '60s, but the music was either in formats we just couldn't use anymore or the recording was in such poor condition that it would have had a lot of pops and crackles, resulting in a bad sound for the listener."

Spradling and William Pease, former marching band director, began working on the project 18 months ago. Spradling credits Pease, who recently left WMU to start a marching band at the University of Virginia, with doing much of the work. Included with the CD is a booklet that recounts the marching band's evolution and history since 1910 along with a smattering of photos of the band and other historical scenes through the years.

Spradling says he and Pease used two criteria for choosing selections. First, they wanted to represent the wide range of shows performed over the years, and second, they wanted the best sounding material possible.

"It started as a two-CD project," Spradling says. "Then we started looking at the mass of material that we had and we realized we would have to leave a lot out. So we decided to make it three CDs. We figured, this only happens every 100 years, so we'd better make it right the first time."

The CD is available at the WMU Bookstore for $25. CDs also may be ordered by calling Becky Spanger in the band office at (269) 387-4209.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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