By Joseph Bailey ’15
Intern, Univ. Communications
After three years cheering and encouraging the men’s and women’s basketball teams on to victory at home, the UR Pep Band may find itself going on the road once again. This particular group of peppy individuals, under the capable direction of Greg Savich, is made up of freshman through seniors, flute players down to tuba players, and everyone in between. The band can normally be seen rocking the crowds during home basketball games in the Palestra and during home football games in Fauver Stadium. However, once in a while, the Pep Band has the unique privilege of playing for the ‘Jackets at a Division III final four game. And, with the top ranked Yellowjackets dominating their opponents this season, they have high hopes of joining in on the fun of March Madness.
The band has been founded three times in its history. The present director, Greg Savich, founded the current band when he was a sophomore, in the fall 2003. The late, great Frederick Fennell directed the original band, founded in the 1930s. Eastman students will be familiar with Fennell because of his instrumental role in founding the Eastman Wind Ensemble. There was also another, second band, which lasted into the mid-nineties. Today, the Yellowjacket Pep Band wears their distinctive blue and yellow striped Rugby shirts, and favors upbeat music and outlandish antics at games to pep up the fans and team alike.
When the team is winning, and spirits are running high in the Palestra, director Savich tends to go with Pep Band standards, including “The Impression That I Get,” and “Take on Me.” Towards the end of such games, when the team is beginning to settle into its groove, the director often opts for the old favorite “Let’s Groove.” When the team seems to be getting off track, a simple “Let’s Go Band” or even “Long Train Runnin’” can help them to refocus their energies. Finally, whenever John DiBartolomeo scores, and there is a timeout shortly after, the band makes every effort to play “Johnny B. Goode.”
According Hilary Dietz ’13, past pep band co-president, the last time the band traveled for basketball was the spring of her freshman year, in March 2010. That year, the band had the honor of going—all-expenses-paid—to Illinois-Weslyan University in Bloomington, Ill. Dietz says that whenever the band is away for the final four, “Everyone gives 200 percent.” The last trip to Illinois was particularly special for Dietz, because as a native of the state, her parents were able to attend the game. This year, she has high hopes that the men and women’s teams can advance far enough through March Madness to secure a road trip for the band.
When asked how the band and games are different at the final four when compared to the Palestra, Savich replied, “The band plays very loudly, is very energetic and focused, and cheers a lot.” With regards to the fans, he described it as a weird experience, because the school who is located closest to the tournament play can easily bring the most fans to cheer.
Savich said that he tends to choose pieces that compliment the feel of the game. For example, if the game is close and nearing the end, he will choose music that is fast-paced, or a piece like “Final Countdown.” To motivate band members, Savich looks to the words of Duke Ellington: “You play with the intent to commit something.” Hopefully, that something will lead the men and women to victory as the regular season draws to a close, and the teams head for the playoffs.
Catch the Pep Band in action for the last regular season home basketball games on Sunday, Feb. 17 at noon (men) and 2 p.m. (women).
Pep band members for 2012-2013 include: Clarinets: Christine Ziegler ’16, Kathryn Strelevitz ’16, Joe Bailey ’15, Flutes: Hilary Dietz ’13, Keira Crist ’15, Ryan Challener ’14, Aurora Dopp’13, Aubrie Sauer’16, Saxophones: Taryn Mockus ’13, Ethan Senator ’15, Patrick Callanan ’14, Danika Teverovsky16, Kelsey Tuttle ’16, Amanda Baker ’13, Shyah Miller’16, Kaitlin Pellicano ’13, Trombones: Bennet Niedenburg ’16, Alexander Venuti ’14, Mellophones: Emily Danchik ’13, Nicholas Van Swol ’15, Trumpets: JamesWojakowski’15, Jonathan Strumpf ’15, Brandon Daehn ’13, Jeff Vankerhove ’13, Michael Myers ’16, Crystal Hans ’15, NathanBook’14, Zeke Starling ’16, Tubas: Daniel Macguigan ’14, JuliaMorris’15, Percussion: Marz Saffore ’15, Chelsea Hans ’14, Mike Tamburrino ’16, Director: Gregory Savich ’06.