The Notre Dame Marching Band is like no other. Each year the Band of the Fighting Irish performs for hundreds of thousands of college football fans and is seen by millions more on national television. And, even at Notre Dame, it wouldn’t be a football game without the Band. The Band was there for the very first football game against Michigan in 1887 and has been on hand for every home game (598 games through the 2012 season) and numerous away games, pep rallies and bowl games ever since.
The 380+ members of the Marching Band come from all across America and overseas and represent every academic major on campus. Made up of Notre Dame’s finest, Band members are recognized each year as distinguished graduates in their respective fields of study.
Football Weekends under the Golden Dome are truly spectacular – and busy – events. The weekend begins Friday afternoon when the band marches from the Main Building (Golden Dome) at 4:30 to the rehearsal field for a final run-through in front of hundreds of excited fans. Following rehearsal, the band stages an exciting march from the band building around Fieldhouse Mall to the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center to perform for the standing-room only crowd of energized students, alumni, parents, and fans attending the Pep Rally.
On Saturday morning, the Band assembles at the Band Building for breakfast followed by a march around campus as a ceremonial “wake-up” for the students. The march out ends at the Loftus Sports Center (Notre Dame’s indoor football facility) for a rehearsal of the afternoon’s performance. After a brief meeting and prayer band members have a break to grab brunch and change into their uniforms. Thousands of fans, both with and without game tickets, follow the Band to the steps of Bond Hall for the tradition-filled “Concert on the Steps.” With kickoff nearing, Irish pride is stirred as the band plays all the Notre Dame football songs plus the day’s half time music. Fans who stay at Bond Hall after the concert are treated to the thundering sound of the Notre Dame Drummer’s Circle, hundreds of others enjoy the Victory March and Notre Dame Our Mother (the alma mater) by the “Trumpets in the Dome,” and still others around campus are able to witness each section’s unique pre-game rituals and traditions. The crowds gather around the Golden Dome for the Band step-off and line the sidewalks as the band marches to the stadium.
In recent years the Band has traveled to Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Tennessee, Florida State, and Oklahoma. Bowl appearances have included the Fiesta Bowl, Gator Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Sun Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl and most recently, the BCS National Championship Game.
The Marching Band rehearses Monday through Thursday from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Fridays before home games include a marchout at 4:30 p.m from the Main Building,a rehearsal at 4:45 p.m., and the pep rally at 6:30 p.m.
Notre Dame has a rich tradition of concert performance. Annually, over 200 student musicians participate in the three concert bands at Notre Dame. Throughout the year the groups perform several concerts and provide music for the annual commencement exercises.
The concert bands perform in the beautiful Leighton Concert Hall at the Marie P. DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. This state of the art facility is recognized as one of the finest performing arts centers in the nation and the Leighton Concert Hall’s acoustics among the best in the world.
The concert bands tour both domestically and internationally. Recent international tours have included performances in the Sydney Opera House, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, the Beijing Concert Hall, and the Teatro Amazonas in Brazil. Domestically, the band has completed concert tours through California, throughout the midwest, Pittsburgh, and performed in some the United States’ finest concert halls like Severance Hall in Cleveland and New York City’s world-renowned Carnegie Hall.
About the Concert Bands
Fall Symphonic Winds
This concert band rehearses on Thursdays from 5:00 – 6:15 pm during the fall semester. Typically between 65 and 75 students will perform in the Fall Winds and all must audition to participate in the group. It is comprised of the University’s finest wind and percussion performers and performs two concerts during the semester.
Fall Concert Band
The Fall Concert Band rehearse on Thursdays from 5:00 – 6:15 pm during the fall semester. This group features between 90 and 100 students and an audition is required. The group performs two concerts during the fall semester.
The Symphonic Band rehearses Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:00 p.m. during the spring semester. The ensemble performs two concerts during the semester. This band performs the latest in concert band repertoire along with a variety of band classics. Symphonic Band members demonstrating significant service to the band are eligible to be selected for overseas travel.
The Symphonic Winds rehearse Mondays and Wednesdays during the Spring Semester at 5:00 p.m. and is the premier wind and percussion ensemble at Notre Dame. Along with the Symphonic Band, it performs two concerts during the semester. The Symphonic Winds plays the finest selections in concert band literature. Members of the Symphonic Winds, demonstrating significant service to the band, are eligible to be selected for overseas travel.
The University Band is a full concert band open to all Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College students, staff, and alumni. This ensemble provides a relaxing traditional concert band experience for brass, woodwind, and percussion players in the greater Notre Dame community. The band rehearses from 8:00 – 9:00 pm on Monday evenings and performs one concert at the end of each academic term.
The University of Notre Dame has three jazz ensembles: two full Jazz Bands and the New Orleans Brass Band. Each year the groups perform at several concerts on campus and also on a spring concert tour. The Jazz Bands help host Notre Dame’s Collegiate Jazz Festival (CJF), the oldest annual college jazz event in the United States, which features excellent jazz groups from universities across the United States and world-class professional judges, in recent years including John Clayton, Jeff Clayton, Terell Stafford, Marvin Stamm, Jon Faddis, Nnenna Freelon, Peter Erskine, Jim McNeely, Jamey Aebersold, and James Carter.
The two Jazz Bands each have 5 saxes, 5 trumpets, 4 trombones, piano, bass, guitar, drums, and vocalist. The New Orleans Brass Band has 3 saxes, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, sousaphone, guitar/banjo, and drums. Both Jazz Band 1 and 2 perform a wide variety of music, ranging from Duke Ellington and Count Basie standards to the original charts from bands such as Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis, Clayton-Hamilton, and Gordon Goodwin, as well as contemporary music of interest.The Brass Band plays new arrangements in the style of such groups as the Youngblood Brass Band and the Rebirth Brass Band.
Jazz Band auditions are held annually on the first Sunday afternoon after school begins in August, with preference given to members of the Notre Dame Marching Band. The jazz band audition consists of playing two songs, one slow and one fast. There are spots in the songs where students can improvise, if they are able to do so; if not, they can simply play the written melody. Most players in Jazz Band 1 and the Brass Band, and many in Jazz Band 2, can improvise. During the spring semester we have a Jazz Improvisation class for those who wish to develop improvisation skills.
Jazz Band 1 rehearses on Mondays from 8:15 to 9:15 p.m. Jazz Band 2 rehearses on Wednesdays, from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the fall and from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the spring. The New Orleans Brass Band rehearses one hour each week at a time convenient to its members.