The Centennial Moment

To celebrate the Yale Bands Centennial Season (2018-19), we will periodically publish a piece of the Band Archives: photos, concert programs, articles, letters, and posters that offer a glimpse into the first hundred years of the Yale Bands. Scroll down to see older posts.

June 24, 2019: 1986 - No Strings Attached

Certainly not your ordinary concert poster, this 1986 eye-catcher promised an evening of band transcriptions not to be missed.

June 17, 2019: 1968 - Concert Ticket


Admission to a Yale Band Pops Concert in Woolsey Hall in 1968 was a great deal – premium first balcony seating for a mere $1.50!

June 10, 2019: 1995 - YPMB as Visual Art

If you’re old enough to remember the mid-1980s-90s, you’ll no doubt remember the American Express advertising slogan, “Membership has its privileges.”  Many YPMB members have multiple creative talents, as evidenced by this hand-drawn poster of Mr. Tubahead crushing the little cantab from the school to the north.  (You’ve got to admit, it makes one heckuva a recruiting poster!)

May 13, 2019: 1982 - 32nd Annual Twilight Commencement Concert

In May 1950, then-Director Keith L. Wilson and the Yale Band presented the first “Twilight Commencement Concert” on the Old Campus the night before Yale’s Commencement, a kind of “preview” of the music the band would perform the next day during the ceremony. This short, celebratory performance was a hit and became an annual tradition (shown above is the poster for the 32nd annual concert in 1982, under the baton of Richard Thurston, Yale’s Director of Bands from 1980-1982). Over the years, the concert has featured a wide variety of music – from marches, to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (with “live” artillery), to transcriptions, to Yale fight songs. This year’s concert will take place this coming Sunday, May 19 at 7 pm, on the Old Campus stage on which Director Wilson gave the inaugural downbeat 69 years earlier!

May 6, 2019: 1992 - The Most Heartwarming Halftime Show in History

On October 10, 1992, two Yale Precision Marching Band alumni tied the knot on the 50-yard line during halftime of the Yale-Fordham football game, witnessed by a 15-member wedding party and several thousand of their closest friends and family.  James Lockman ‘89 and Rori Myers ‘92 met while students in the YPMB when Rori was a was a freshman who coordinated props and James was a senior and the drum major. Having spent most of their discretionary time with the YPMB during their years at Yale, it only made sense to start off married life where it all began.  After the ceremony, the couple exited the field serenaded by the YPMB performing Wagner’s “Wedding March,”  segueing into “Down the Field.”

April 29, 2019: 2019 - City of New Haven Honors Yale Band Centennial

On April 23, 2019, New Haven celebrated its 381st birthday at City Hall with a ceremony honoring important institutions and people in the city who have reached important milestones – among which was the Yale Band for its Centennial Year. The honorees were recognized for their contributions to “public service and their love for community, arts, culture, progress, and spiritual uplift” as exemplified in the recipients of the 2019 City Spirit Awards.  Mayor Toni Harp recognized not only the city’s birthday, but also the transformation the city is currently undergoing , calling the Elm City a place for “new ideas and robust investment.” U.S. State Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who grew up in Wooster Square, also attended and spoke about the ways she has seen the city change over her own life time.  After the ceremony, Rep. DeLauro chatted with Tom Duffy and Yale Bands President David Zuckerman DC ‘20.

April 22, 2019: 2016 - Yale Concert Band Performs at Refugee Camp

In May and June of 2016, the Yale Concert Band toured Italy and Greece, playing in traditional settings in Rome, Urbino, Bologna, Delphi and Athens. The band also performed an outreach concert in the Eleonas refugee camp, a 10-acre facility in central Athens that houses about 1,500 asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, Syria, and other war-torn countries. At the end of the concert, Director Tom Duffy gave the enthusiastic children a chance to conduct. The joy among all those gathered – the children, the adults, and all the Yale Band members – was palpable!

April 15, 2019: 1969 - Yale Band Halloween Concert

In 1969, the Yale Band presented a night of weird music, on the spookiest of nights – Halloween.

April 8, 2019: 1959 - Yale Club of Paris Hosts Reception in Honor of Yale Concert Band’s First European Tour

On July 13, 1959, the Yale Club of Paris, the Harvard Club of France, and the Princeton Club of Paris hosted a reception for the Yale Concert Band and their guests in recognition of their first European tour. The invitation suggests the dress code of “straw hats and striped blazers” for the gentlemen, and  emphasizes that “Ladies are more than welcome!” Note the P.S., indicating popular dances of the time!

April 1, 2019: 1973 - Yale Band Pops Concert

The 20th annual Yale Band Pops Concert was held on November 9, 1973, in Woolsey Hall, under the baton of then-director Keith Brion. Notice the eclectic programming. The ’70s certainly were an interesting time!

March 25, 2019: Three decades with Stan Wheeler! 

Yale Law School Professor Stan Wheeler was a major part of Yale’s 1970s jazz scene.  He shuttled Yale students who were interested in jazz back and forth to New York City, where he introduced them to the clubs, nightlife, and players of the jazz world.  Stan befriended the owner of the Village Vanguard, Max Gordon, and through that connection, the Yale Jazz Ensemble was invited to play a warmup set before a 1984 Monday-night regular Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra gig (top left). In 1994, Stan (accompanied by his wife, Marcia Chambers) appeared with the Yale Jazz Ensemble as part of the Yale Band’s re-creation of Glenn Miller’s 1943 broadcasts from Woolsey Hall and traveled with the group to the shores of England and France in June as part of the ceremonies commemorating the D-Day landing at Normandy (bottom left: see Corporal Wheeler [center back] with bearded Duffy and the trombones goofing around in In The Mood, Dinard, France). Stan’s last appearance with the YJE was in November 2007, just a few weeks before his death. It’s clear from his facial expression in the formal photo, above (in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall) that he was doing a thing he loved.  On March 31, 2019, the Yale Jazz Ensemble and the Reunion Jazz Combo (fronted by Jeff Fuller) presented the 12th and final Stan Wheeler and Marcia Chambers Memorial Jazz Concert in Yale Law School.

March 18, 2019: 1994 - The Yale Bands Re-create 1943 Glenn Miller Band Radio Shows

From January though June of 1943, Captain Glenn Miller and his Army Air Forces Technical Training Command Band were stationed at Yale University. They provided a series of live radio broadcasts from Woolsey Hall (above left) to boost morale at home and for the troops overseas during the World War II effort. In 1994, the Yale Concert Band and Yale Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Tom Duffy (as Captain Miller) re-created these broadcasts from the same stage, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landing at Normandy. (Notice the very same 48-star flag on the organ pipes!) By popular demand, the show was repeated multiple times in the United States, as well as in Europe during the Band’s 1994 spring tour of England and France.

March 11, 2019: 1989 - Yale Concert Band Paints the Bowl!

In May of 1989, the Yale Concert Band toured Italy, departing campus the day after Commencement. To raise funds for the trip, the Band spent twelve days prior painting the Yale Bowl’s faded blue bleachers – all 17.1 miles of them! Needless to say, for months (sometimes years) afterward, the sight of dried blue paint on extension cords (used for plugging in those 1980s boom boxes), clothing, backpacks, and water bottles, brought about wistful reminiscing. (And it rained five of those twelve days, so the Bowl was painted in seven!)

March 4, 2019: 2002 - The YPMB “Attacks”

In legendary “attack-band” style, the YPMB welcomes the Class of 2006 as they pass on their way to the President’s Welcome Reception. Leading the band is drum major Jeremiah “JQ” Quinlan MC ‘03, now Yale Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid. (We have the best alums!)

February 25, 2019: 1999 - YPMB Recruiting Campaign

As the  Class of 2004 descends on the Yale campus in the Fall of 1999, the YPMB officers (under the leadership of Drum Major Mike Stafford PC ‘00 and Manager Elisha Danford CC/GH ‘00 ) paper the campus with recruiting flyers.

February 18, 2019: 1958 - Yale Concert Band On Cross Campus

The Yale Concert Band, directed by Keith L. Wilson, performs a concert on Cross Campus in the Spring of 1958.

February 11, 2019: 2013 - The YPMB Shows Some Love

Fronted by Drum Major Erin Maher SM ‘14, the YPMB shows off its Valentine’s Day spirit after a Feb 2013 Yale hockey game at Ingalls Rink.

February 4, 2019: 1993 - Yale Concert Band Features Guest Narrator Walter Cronkite

On February 11, 1993, Walter Cronkite – “the most trusted man in America” – appeared as narrator for a special Black History Month Concert with the Yale Concert Band . His narrations of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait and T. Duffy’s Whispers of the Patriots were introduced by New Haven Mayor John C. Daniels.  Two thousand New Haven public school students heard Mr. Cronkite at a free concert that morning, filling Woolsey Hall to maximum capacity, and the concert was repeated to another full house that evening. 

January 28, 2019: 2019 - YPMB Drum Major Succession

On January 25,  the YPMB Drum Major Selection Committe  – following conducting auditions, interviews, and deliberations – appointed the 2019 Drum Major. Above, outgoing DM Antonio Medina MY ‘19 hands off “The Sweater” to his able successor, Jocelyn Dicent MY ‘20. 

January 24, 2019: 1986 - KBB Smiles for the Camera

The YPMB percussion section — fondly known as KBB (Kappa Banga Banga) — poses for its annual football season photo in 1986.  

January 15, 2019: 1971 - Yale Band Features Jazz Greats Willie Ruff, Dwike Mitchell, Max Roach

On November 5, 1971,  the Yale Band hosted jazz greats Willie Ruff (French horn and bass), Dwike Mitchell (piano), and Max Roach (drums) in a Woolsey Hall concert.  The special feature of the evening, “The Triple Concerto for French Horn, Piano, and Drums,” was written by the soloists and largely improvised by them in the performance. In Marvin Gaye’s  jazz- and gospel- inspired hit, “What’s Going On,” Ruff was featured on bass. Among Ruff’s many notable credentials: in 1971, he was invited to join the faculty of the School of Music at Yale University , from which he graduated in 1953, and earned his Master’s degree in 1954. While a student, he played first French horn in the Yale Concert Band, and for the 1952 season was drum major of the Yale (Precision) Marching Band!

January 9, 2019: 2010 - Yale Jazz Ensemble Benefit Concert

On April 10, 2010, the Yale Jazz Ensemble presented “Music Under the Stars” at the John C. Daniels Interdistrict Magnet School in New Haven, a combined benefit concert to raise funds for new instruments for the School. Director Thomas C. Duffy invited members of the John C. Daniels Band to perform with the YJE; pictured above on clarinets are eighth-graders Kevin Lopez (far right) and Raymundo Morales (second from right).  The YJE performs with and presents clinics annually for local schools.

January 3, 2019: 2014 - Yale Concert Band and West Point Band Commemorate Yale Bowl Centennial

In September 2014, the Yale Concert Band hosted the West Point Band in Woolsey Hall to kick off the year-long Yale Bowl Centennial (1914-2014) celebrations. Each band performed their own set of ceremonial and patriotic music, and ended the concert with a combined performance (pictured here, Lt. Col. Jim Keene conducting).

December 11, 2018: 1992 - Yale Precision Marching Band Fan Mail from Across the Pond

In 1992, all three Yale Bands (Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, and Precision Marching Band) toured England and performed in various capacities, with the grand culmination the Lord Mayor of London’s New Year’s Day Parade. This fan mail is from across the pond. The “marvellous Fraternity Chant or whatever it was” was actually the Yale Precision Marching Band’s percussion and voice rendition of Buddy Holly’s/Rolling Stones’ “Not Fade Away” (with the Band’s own special ending):

“I’m gonna tell you how it’s gonna be
You’re gonna give your love to me
My love for you has got to be real
I’m gonna tell you just how I feel
My love for you won’t fade away
(stick out tongue and shake from head side to side)

December 3, 2018: 1989 - Yale Band Performs in President George Herbert Walker Bush Inaugural Parade

President George Herbert Walker Bush was a friend of the Yale Bands.  He had his people call Yale in 1989 to “invite” (insist) the Yale Bands to participate in his inauguration.  We played, and processed (not marched!), following the University of Texas Longhorn Marching Band.

November 19, 2018: 1972 - Yale Concert Band program cover

This simple, hand-drawn cover of a 1972 Yale Concert Band program evokes a period before the computer age that would take graphics to a whole new level in the coming decades.

November 12, 2018: 1990 - The World’s Biggest Drum

The Harvard Band was so proud of its “world’s biggest” drum that what else could the Yale Precision Marching Band do but make one that was bigger? It was designed, prepared and constructed after hours in the workroom of the Eli Whitney Museum in New Haven (yes, the place where mass production was pioneered!) The drum had two detachable heads and a bungee cord apparatus that held the head tight to the frame.  The beater was a prop (otherwise it would have put a hole through the heads).  At the 1990 Yale-Harvard Game in Cambridge, MA, the YPMB wheeled out ÜberDrum and assembled it on the 50-yard line, and the crowd roar was deafening! The following year, when The Game was at home in New Haven,  the drum was brought out once again.  This time the heads had been repainted with a crimson H, and were treated with flammable glue. Black powder charges were placed in the frame. The finale of this show was the demolition of the “Harvard” drum.  Triggered by batteries and safety flares, the heads burned up, and the frame exploded, sending toothpick shrapnel everywhere.  This is the kind of trickery that could only have happened decades ago, before the development of safety rules and the general elimination of explosives and fire on the fields.

November 5, 2018: 1959 - Yale Concert Band first American university band to tour internationally

In 1959, the Yale Concert Band produced the first international tour of any American university* band.  The mode of transportation was the propeller(!) plane serviced by Pan American Airlines, the largest air carrier of the time. As with the Yale Bands, Pan Am was founded by three military leaders, Army Air Corps Captains “Hap” Arnold, Carl Spaatz, and John Jouett.  These men incorporated Pan Am in 1927 in response to German-owned Scadta Air, which operated in Colombia, and was perceived as a possible aerial threat by Germany to the Panama Canal. In 1927, with capital and influence provided by Cornelius Vanderbilt and Averell Harriman, Yale class of 1913, Pan Am secured the air rights to Cuba! Thirty-two years later, the Yale Concert Band inaugurated its international tour program with this tour to England, Holland, West Germany, Switzerland, and France, 32 concerts and radio broadcasts.  Air travel was such a novelty then that the program (shown above) had a section for travelers to record data about the flight and the service crew, just as fans today track each pitch and play in baseball.  The Yale Concert Band completed its 28th tour in June of 2018 – performing in Australia’s Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, and Newcastle.

*St. Olaf’s College band traveled to Norway in 1907, but Yale’s was the first such trip by an American university.

October 22, 2018: 1985 - Yale Jazz Ensemble produces first Ivy League Jazz Festival

On April 27, 1985, the Yale Jazz Ensemble produced the first of eight annual events that became known as the Ivy League Jazz Festival. The YJE was fresh off performances in New York City’s renowned Village Vanguard and at the Budweiser Festival in Bermuda, where it played for over 100,000 students on spring break. Initially, each Yale-produced Ivy League Jazz Festival was presented outside on the Cross Campus steps, where students and the public could come and go as they wished. Yale Dining Services served lunch outiside – the Bands had a captive audience, much of which stayed to enjoy the jazz. Rain drove the Festival inside two years in a row, which broke the momentum – no lunch, no steps, no captive audience. At present, the Yale Jazz Ensemble collaborates with the Harvard Jazz Ensemble, performing annually (so far – the second event will be held on Feb 9, 2019) in Boston’s preeminent jazz club, Scullers.

October 15, 2018: 1968 - The YPMB is the Cover

Drum Major Michael Dunn SM ‘69 and the YPMB grace the cover of the Yale/Columbia football game program (October 19, 1968, Yale Bowl).

September 28, 2018: 1946 - The “Worst Dressed” Band

The Yale Band’s uniform changed every few years, from the pith-helmeted bands of the 1920s to the band blazers of the post-WWII era.  Members supplied their own gray pants, and when it rained, they covered up with whatever raincoats they owned.  This is gentle criticism from Mr. Booth, who complains about the “look” while extolling the sound, the formations and the shows in the parlance of the 1940s – ‘You’re doing a swell job!’ all typed without error on a manual typewriter.”

September 11, 2018: 1939 Field Shows

In 1939, Yale’s football team played and beat Michigan’s in Ann Arbor! And the Yale Band was there, with four accordions in its ranks! The Michigan Band’s script and formations present a tribute to mothers and dads for Homecoming Day. Yale’s script and formation for the Princeton game of the same year focus on beer. Little Brown Jug  apparently the special request of “the boys at Yale” — was a hit by Glenn Miller, who would be commanding the 418th Army Air Force Technical Training Command Band, stationed at Yale University from January to June 1943.

September 3, 2018: 1930s Yale Clubs Reunion

This 1930s local newspaper article reports that the Yale Band will provide the entertainment at a reunion of New England Yale Clubs.

August 27, 2018: 1926 Community Concert

The Yale Band performs on December 3, 1926, at Bristol High School in Bristol, Connecticut. Notice the saxophone soloist, Rudy Vallee (Yale Class of 1927), America’s “first crooner” and drum major of the 1927 Yale Band.

August 13, 2018: 1977 - Band in the Pool

The Yale Precision Marching Band contributes its talents to a 1977 Yale swim meet in the Kiphuth Pool in the Payne Whitney Gymnasium.