Marching Illini in Arlington Heights, Sept. 25

The Marching Illini from the University of Illinois will march in the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York and will partner with the marching band from St Viator High School in Arlington Heights, under the Friday night lights, as the football team hosts Notre Dame from Niles, the Marching Illini’s website proclaims.

The Marching Illini perform in Champaign, 2008. (Brian Holsclaw / Flickr Creative Commons)

The game starts at 7:30 Friday, Sept 25, on Morris Field at Robert Morris University in Arlington Heights.

Band director Vince Genualdi at St Viator used to play the sousaphone in the Marching Illini. He also served as drum major during his junior and senior years before graduating in 2013. Drum majors for the Marching Illini this year are Rose Craig, Victoria Sewell, and Cameryn Wysocki.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity for our band program and the school community,” the Chicago Daily Herald quoted Mr Genualdi as saying. “The Marching Illini leads the collegiate marching band realm and has a long-lasting tradition of musical excellence and integrity. Their dedication to music education and to excellence is contagious, and I know that their presence will ultimately improve our school spirit, band program, and community.”

Professor Barry L Houser directs the Marching Illini. Mr Houser holds a master’s degree from the university, where he studied with James Keene, former director of bands. He considered taking his talents to Big Ten rival Ohio State earlier this year but decided his fondness for his students would keep him in Champaign. The Daily Illini, the U of I student newspaper, quoted him as saying this:

And the main reason is because of the students! It has nothing to do with anything really beyond that. We have a great history and tradition here that’s very important but again I don’t do it because of that; I do it because of the great students that we have here that work so hard to represent the university and do so much greater good across the university. And to represent our state even, with what we’re doing this November. By the time we finish in December, we’ll have been in front of almost 72 million people, between football games and exhibitions.

This is just a huge year of Marching Illini. I don’t want to say that that’s such a huge part of why I like my job, but honestly, if the Marching Illini were not a part of my job, I don’t think I’d be here at Illinois. It’s the one thing that if I was ever asked to give anything up, this would be the last thing to go.

Mr Houser is a “pillar” of the Illinois bands program, the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette quoted U of I School of Music director Jeff Magee as saying in a statement when Mr Houser announced he would stay at Illinois.

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more biographical information, see the About page.