Despite the 90 percent chance of precipitation for Greensburg’s 26th annual Holiday Parade, the Griffins didn’t let that rain on their parade. The Seton Hill University Griffin Marching Band performed “Sleigh Ride” during the parade route on Nov. 18.
“The semester, at least as far as the role of the marching band is concerned, has come to a close,” said Brett Cuddy, senior drum major. “This is definitely bittersweet, but we always know that it’s time to be finished up when we’re marching through the streets of Greensburg in rain and snow during the holiday parade.”
Cuddy, a vocal performance major with a sacred music certificate, returned for his second season as drum major this year.
“I was certainly looking forward to the parade,” Cuddy said. “It’s a little strange to know that I’ll never get to do that again. In any case, I know that I can be proud walking down Main Street in front of that band. They did a lot of work for this… they can play ‘Sleigh Ride’ in their sleep!”
This season, the Griffin Band performed in the Hempfield Band Festival and as a guest-show band in the McKeesport Tournament of the Bands. The band practices every Tuesday and Thursday night, as well as before football games and festivals.
“I believe this year’s band is the strongest to date,” band director Ted DiSanti said. “This year’s freshman class is exceptionally strong and talented.”
DiSanti has worked at SHU since 2001. He started the SHU Pep Band in 2007, per the request of then-President JoAnne Boyle, according to DiSanti. The pep band became the SHU Marching Band with 16 playing members and nearly doubled in size in 2010.
“Personally, I have to say that this is one of the greatest bunches of people I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” Cuddy said. “It was an honor and a privilege to be at the podium this year. They’re hard workers, but also know how to have a good time. Rehearsals were a blast. Plus, this has been a great experience for me, as I plan to move on to graduate school to study conducting.”
The band’s show this season was titled “An American Celebration.” The performance began with a French symphony, and proceeded with the band’s rendition of “America the Beautiful” and original music to tell the story of the journey to America and the experiences of the settlers.
“The show was just released this past season, so it’s brand new,” said Cuddy. “The classic Americana shows can sometimes be a bit overplayed, but this told a story.” The show was aimed at promoting “unity.” The commercial band also played at a social awareness concert to “tie in the theme.”
“The band, according to Dr. DiSanti, performed at an all-time-high level this year. I certainly know how far we’ve come since I was a freshman,” Cuddy said. “This is, speaking musically, the most difficult show that we have undertaken, and we totally conquered it. By October, we had that show down to a science… and we were able to consistently perform at the top of our game.”
“We represented ourselves and the school in the best way possible, and I’m very pleased with that,” Cuddy said. “We’ve set the bar high. I like to think that, for high schoolers at band festivals or competitions, we act as a recruiting tool for the university.”
According to DiSanti, there are students from nearly every academic area in the SHU Marching Band, from music majors to LECOM students. SHU offers many opportunities in music, including the marching band, symphonic wind ensemble, concert band, jazz ensemble and commercial ensemble, which plays more contemporary music. There is also an orchestra and three different choirs.
“On an artistic level, it gives both large and small groups of musicians an opportunity to engage in the art of making music,” DiSanti said. “Whether the ensemble is a pep band or a symphony orchestra, there is always an opportunity for a positive musical experience to be achieved. On a social level, it allows for students from all academic areas to come together with the same goal in mind: to make music.”
Upcoming Music Events at SHU
Fall Dance Concert: Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 2 at 1 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center
Light of the World- Christmas in the Chapel Choral Concert: Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. in St. Joseph Chapel
Candlelight Vespers- Christmas in the Chapel Choral Concert: Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. in St. Joseph Chapel
Community Music Program Recital: Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. at the Reichgut Concert Hall in the PAC
Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra Concert- Home for the Holidays: Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Palace Theatre
SHU Dance Academy Holiday Show: Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. at the PAC
Community Music Program Recital: Jan. 12 at 6:30 p.m at the Reichgut Concert Hall in the PAC