Jacob’s Travels: Family Weekend with the Pride of Arizona Marching Band

This past weekend I was in Tucson, Arizona for the University of Arizona’s Family Weekend.

My younger brother, Aaron, attends the University of Arizona and is finishing up his undergraduate college experience.   For four years, Aaron has performed in the Pride of Arizona (PoA) Marching Band playing a 60-lb tuba.   This marching band has 250 members under the direction of Professor Jay Rees and was named one of the top five marching bands in the U.S. by the College Band Directors National Association in 2009.

I had a unique opportunity to follow the band for the entire family weekend.   On Friday, we headed to Bear Down Friday, the day before pep rally that featured performances from student groups, school mascots Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat and of course…. The Pride of Arizona Marching Band.  From the minute, that the band walked in and started on their first note, the sound was extremely loud and the energy from the Bear Down Friday viewers intensified.   They performed numerous songs including an interesting take from Sir Mix-A-Lott’s “I Like Big Butts” and the school’s fight song.

After the performance, the band had moments to rest before performing in front of an audience outside of the Centennial Hall, the University of Arizona’s Performing Arts Center.   But little did they know was that a Grammy-winning singer was watching their performance…Iconic R&B singer Patti LaBelle!   The Queen of Rock n’ Soul was in Tucson to perform at Centennial Hall as part of UAPressents, which brings acts from across the performing arts industry to perform for the campus.

The band performed LaBelle’s classic “Lady Marmalade” and the school’s fight song.  It was really interesting to see the PoA tackle a classic soul song.  After their brief performance, Patti surprised the band and told them that they made her cry.  Before she left, I was able to talk to Patti before I left and said that I was a huge fan and it was an honor to meet her and we hugged and she told me: “It was an honor to have met!”  This was definitely my top highlight of the weekend.

Saturday was game day and the band gets started at 8:00 a.m., so my brother and I had to get up at 6:15 a.m.   We headed to the high school that the band was rehearsing at and met the other members of the band and their family.   After the band warmed up, the families headed down the field to participate in what the band does on a normal rehearsal day, which included more rehearsals and drills.

Finally, after all of the warm-ups, it was time for one family member to take the place of their Pride of Arizona member to perform a brief section from their show.   I represented my brother and I played his 60-lb. tuba in front of everyone.  I have to admit: I stink at playing the tuba! But my tuba career did not end there, later on during the practice…Aaron made me audition for the solo for “America the Beautiful,” a song I ONLY KNOW HOW TO SING!  It was very interesting, I played a couple of wrong notes but I managed to get a few claps from the audience.  I think I will leave the tuba playing to my brother and stick with reporting the news and blogging.

As game time approached, I was in awe on how these performers were able to have the stamina to perform before the game and wish the University of Arizona Wildcats Football Team good luck as they head to Arizona Stadium to prepare for the game.  While the Arizona Wildcats failed to bring their A-game to the football field, the band brought out all of their spirit to not only their terrific halftime show but to the entire game.    After the Arizona Wildcats’ humiliating loss, the band still shined as they perform a 10-minute finale near the University of Arizona Student Union and finished the day with watching their performance and heading home.

I was privileged to follow the Pride of Arizona Marching Band throughout my brother’s final Family Weekend.  To find out more information about the Pride of Arizona, check out there Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/PrideOfArizona

Comments

  1. I really liked the way you presented this information. It nice to read good information like this rather than to waste your time doing nothing. Great Job! Thnkas for posting it!

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar