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USU Music Tradition Celebrates 50 Years

Thursday, Jun. 27, 2013

graphic illustration for the USU Alumni Band 50th anniversary

USU's Alumni Band celebrates 50 years of concert-in-the-park summer tradition. (graphic by Production Services, Caine College of the Arts)

Utah State University celebrates 50 years of music tradition this summer with five evening performances by the Alumni Band.

“Talented and dedicated alumni come together each summer to make music for all to enjoy,” said Nick Morrison, conductor of the band and senior associate dean in the Caine College of the Arts. “Each sacrifices time they could spend with their families to perform, and this is a labor of love for them.”

Founded in 1963 by Max Dalby, faculty member in the Department of Music, the Alumni Band was born when administrators expressed concern that summer students at USU had nothing to do Sunday evenings.

“Being able to gather five Sundays each summer with dear friends and perform together is a rare opportunity,” said Mariann Lucy, one of Dalby’s daughters and committee member for the band’s 50th anniversary celebration. “Friendships that were forged during college years are renewed and fond memories are solidified as musicians rehearse and perform.”

Whether newly graduated or retired, the Alumni Band features musicians of all ages who have graduated from Utah State.

“Catching up with old friends enriches the entire experience and it’s so nice to get to know the future generations of Alumni Band members,” said Rebecca Nelson, also a daughter of Dalby and committee member for the 50th anniversary celebration.

Each summer the band performs five concerts, rehearsing for only a few hours before performing. Alumni regularly travel from Idaho, Wyoming and southern Utah to perform in at least one concert, with others traveling greater distances.

“Alumni Band is the highlight of our year,” said Anita Ford, who has played in the band with her husband, Bill, for 50 years. “The quality of the musicians is outstanding, the caliber of the music is better than in any other place and the band is an amazing group. We arrange our schedules so we can make it to every concert.”

Throughout the band’s history, there have been only two conductors. Dalby led the band for 30 years, and this season marks Morrison’s 20th year of leading the group.

“Nick Morrison has done an outstanding job of keeping the Alumni Band mission alive while adding his own finesse as director,” said Lucy. “Our family and the band members are very grateful for his enthusiastic efforts to keep this wonderful tradition alive.”

Each concert features a theme, ranging from patriotic music to popular culture. This year’s concert themes are: June 30 is a patriotic concert, July 14 is Happy Bastille Day, July 21 is Our Western Heritage, July 28 is Movies and Jazz, and Aug. 4 is the 50th Anniversary Celebration with special guest Arnald Gabriel.

“Longtime friend and mentor of Drs. Jessop and Bankhead, Colonel Arnald Gabriel will join us for the 50th anniversary performance,” said Morrison. “He is truly one of the great musicians of the profession and was a contemporary of Dr. Dalby.”

Col. Gabriel is conductor emeritus of the United States Air Force (USAF) Band and a professor emeritus of George Mason University. He retired from the USAF after serving for 36 years and was named the first conductor emeritus of the band.

“This performance will be an exciting one with Colonel Gabriel as guest conductor,” said Lucy. “He has long been the iconic band director in the eyes of band members everywhere and my dad spoke of him often with great admiration.”

All Alumni Band performances begin at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Concerts in June and July will be held on the USU Quad, and the final concert will be performed in the Kent Concert Hall of the Chase Fine Arts Center. In case of inclement weather, the outdoor performances move to the Kent Concert Hall.

Following the Aug. 4 performance, a reception will be held in the Tippetts Exhibit Hall, located in the Chase Fine Arts Center.

For more information, visit the Caine College of the Arts Box Office in room 139-B of the Chase Fine Arts Center, call 435-797-8022 or see the college’s Production Services website.

Related links:

USU Department of Music

USU Alumni Band

USU Caine College of the Arts

Writer: Kara Rindlisbacher, 435-797-9203,

Contact: Denise Albiston, 435-797-1500,

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