Join the Bands
Welcome to the Yale Bands! Whether you’re an incoming first-year or a veteran Yalie, we’re glad you’re interested. The three ensembles are comprised of more than 125 individuals. They make more than 60 appearances per year and are responsible for the entire heckelphone population of Connecticut. There is a place for everyone in the Yale Bands: the Yale Concert Band is for Yale’s finest classical wind players, the Yale Jazz Ensemble is a 17-piece “big band” that performs standards and contemporary charts, and the Yale Precision Marching Band wants to assemble the most fun, spirited group (with room for musicians and non-musicians alike) ever to set foot in New Haven. There is crossover between the ensembles, as some people play in two or even all three bands. The Yale Bands and their members are very important in Yale’s musical world in general. You can hardly find a group of musicians on campus—chamber orchestras, woodwind or brass quintets, pit orchestras, saxophone quartets, theory & composition seminars, music history classes, or even rock bands and choruses—that isn’t touched by the members of the Yale University Bands.
Want to get in on the action?
Prospective students are invited to set up a 15-minute Zoom meeting with Yale Bands Director, Professor Thomas C. Duffy. Please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also fill out an online information card, and a Yale Bands officer will respond.
Yale Concert Band
The Yale Concert Band, the musical center for the woodwind and brass world at Yale University, is best known for its varied repertoire, which spans from traditional marches, world premieres, and crowd favorites to the music of Glenn Miller and theatrical pieces (involving black lights, a fog machine, sunglasses and the biggest clarinet you’ve ever seen). Recent successes for the ensemble include the sold-out performance of our recreation of the Glenn Miller Band in Woolsey Hall, and a 2011 concert in Carnegie Hall, in which the band premiered a French horn concerto and performed a Chinese cantata with a chorus of over 100 singers.
The Yale Concert Band travels, too. Recent tours have taken the YCB to Ghana, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Bermuda, Ireland, Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic, Russia, Italy, Greece, Haiti, and Australia. Unfortunately, COVID-19 canceled our May 2020 tour to Germany (but we plan to get back on track planning future travel after the pandemic crisis is behind us).
Yale Jazz Ensemble
The Yale Jazz Ensemble is a 17-piece “big band” that performs a wide variety of music, from Yale’s Benny Goodman archives to the newest, most progressive jazz compositions. The group has performed in the U.S. and internationally at such noted venues as New York’s Village Vanguard and Iridium Jazz Club, and London’s Ronnie Scott’s, and has played with or opened for the Mingus Big Band, the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band, the World Saxophone Quartet, Jane Ira Bloom, Jimmy Owens, and Branford Marsalis. In 2017, the YJE was featured in the University’s two-day jazz festival, “Jazz: A Celebration of America’s Sound,” performing a full concert and clinics with Wayne Escoffery and Wynton Marsalis. In the spring of 2018, 2019, and 2020, the YJE collaborated with the Harvard Jazz Band at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston (with each band taking a set and also combined). In Spring of 2019, the band ended its season with two near-sold-out performances at Dizzy’s Jazz Club at Lincoln Center, with Grammy Award-winners trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Wayne Escoffery. The band’s return to Dizzy’s in April 2020 (featuring trumpeter Michael Philip Mossman and saxophonist Wayne Escoffery) was canceled due to COVID-19, but we hope to reschedule that performance for a later date.
Yale Precision Marching Band
Imagine, if you will, this scene: a warm spring evening, midnight, in the middle of hahvahd Yard. The calm of the evening—the night before finals—is suddenly shattered by a group of rampaging musicians. To both smiles and water-balloon fire, at the foot of the John Harvard statue these bandies treat Cambridge to “Bulldog” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
The Yale Precision Marching Band, called “the Edsel of marching bands” by the New York Times, is nothing like your high school band. In fact, we’re probably the polar opposite. Schooled in the ancient arts of feng schwee (the placement of buttons on one’s band blazer to channel favorable forces) and shattering concrete with sheer musical volume, we are nothing if not a force to be reckoned with. The fall season finds us at the Yale Bowl most weekends, combining musical prowess with wildly entertaining halftime shows to cheer on our beloved Bulldogs. Come winter, the YPMB shows off its rocking tunes at Yale’s hockey and basketball games. Occasionally we surface at stranger venues, from fencing to swimming, baseball and track and field. No gig is too small to be infused with that extra dose of Yale spirit. Athletic events are standard fare, but you never know where the YPMB might show up. Our travels have taken us to play for former Secretary of State/First Lady Hillary Clinton on the steps of City Hall, to New York for the annual Greenwich Village Halloween parade (in full costume, natch), Giants Stadium, Chicago’s Soldier Field, Madison Square Garden, the Olympic arena in Lake Placid, NY, and even to San Diego, CA. If you want to contribute and you have a pulse, you’ve passed muster - we have musicians of all degrees, student arrangers (how else do you think we got “Basket Case”), script writers, props wizards and more. Though COVID-19 knocked out 2020, we are cautiously optimistic about what 2021-22 may bring in terms of live perfomance in support of the football team, the hockey team, and the many other wonders that go with being “A Member Of…” World domination can’t be far away.
In the meantime, take a look and listen to something we do at every football game during a normal year.