Now that the University of Minnesota football team is finally more than mediocre, the U’s marching band is no longer the main attraction at football games.
“During the years of bad football, people would say the marching band is the pride of Minnesota,” said Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede.
After all, there are no ups and downs when it comes to marching bands.
“The band doesn’t ebb and flow with wins and losses the way the football team does,” said Jerry Luckhardt, associate director of bands at the U. “There’s no question that winning football is fun. But it doesn’t have a huge impact on the band if football doesn’t do well. People still want to be a part of the band.”
That consistency has made the University of Minnesota Marching Band a top attraction, especially in Rochester, where the band will perform an indoor concert Tuesday at Mayo Civic Center.
“We draw really terrific audiences there,” Luckhardt said.
This is the 30th anniversary of the band’s indoor concerts in Rochester, and Brede has a good reason to remember to first one. His daughter was a member of the marching band at the time, and volunteered her dad to organize a concert in Rochester.
“That kind of started it all,” Brede said.
Local alums and business people stepped forward to help pay for and promote the concert. It was held on Jan. 26, 1984, at Mayo Civic Center, and was such a success that the band has been returning to Rochester generally on an every-other-year basis since then. The fixed costs of the concert are now covered by the University of Minnesota Rochester. Admission to the concert is free.
The marching band has been in Rochester so often — 14 concerts not counting this year — that Brede once joked to former U president Robert Bruininks about it. “I told him ‘The band is really Rochester’s, they just rehearse in the Twin Cities,'” Brede said.
In recognition of Brede’s work bringing the band to Rochester, a scholarship fund for band members from the area has been named for Brede and his wife, Judy.
“We recruit really good students from Rochester,” Luckhardt said. “The concert is a good recruiting trip for us.”
For the band members, the long trip on buses on a school night is anything but the chore it might appear to be, he said.
“It’s good to end the season doing indoor concerts,” Luckhardt said. “People go to a football game to see the game. This demonstrates to them that people are interested in seeing and hearing them perform.”
The concert is usually a way to wrap up all the pieces of music that band has learned in previous months. “They put in a lot of work on their music,” Luckhardt said. “This is a two-hour concert and they play it all from memory.”
As for the logistics, Luckhardt said, “They’ll do their homework on the bus on the way down and on the way back.”
Typically, the band enters Mayo Civic Center’s Taylor Arena with horns blaring and drums pounding.
“You’re in surround-sound,” Brede said. “The energy of the band is something that everyone comes away with.”
If you go
What: The University of Minnesota Marching Band indoor concert
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Mayo Civic Center, 30 Civic Center Drive S.E., Rochester
Admission: Free. To guarantee admittance, pick up tickets in advance at Rochester branches of Associated Bank.
Freewill donations will go toward the Ardell and Judy Brede scholarship fund for Rochester-area members of the marching band.
The University of Minnesota Alumni Association will host a reception from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. in Riverview Suites C and D at the civic center. Food, cash bar, VIP seating for the concert. Tickets are $25; call Dick Westerlund at 507-289-7836, or send email to: email@example.com.