'The Buzz' Blog
All the buzz about the Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching and Basketball Bands.
November 9, 2011 — EVANSTON, ILL. — The nation's fourth largest city is about to welcome the Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band for their record-breaking fourth bowl game appearance in a row.
"We will be traveling to Houston on December 29," says Daniel J. Farris, Northwestern University director of athletic bands. "There are still many details to be worked out."
The fall term has just wrapped up on the Evanston campus, and after one last rehearsal, students have headed home for the holidays. The band, like the team, will return to Evanston early to prepare for its first-ever appearance at the Meineke Care Care Bowl of Texas. The game will be played at Reliant Stadium at 11 a.m. on New Years' Eve.
The Wildcats' eligibility for the bowl game is owed mainly to a four-game winning streak in the last half of the season, during which Northwestern upset ninth-ranked Nebraska while on the road. This year's is the winningest senior class in school history, with 36 wins.
November 26, 2011 — EVANSTON, ILL. — The persistent drizzle in Ryan Field today could not wash away seniors' tears as they were recognized for their years of service in the Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band.
It was a day for emotional traditions. The halftime finale was "March of the Steelmen," which has been performed by the Wildcat band at the end of each home season since 1928, "just two years after the dedication of Ryan Field's predecessor, Dyche Stadium," explained Pete Friedmann, the Voice of the Wildcat Band, whose words reverberated through the P.A. system. "This year, once again, we salute our seniors and you, our loyal fans," said Friedman.
Then, Friedmann introduced each of the ensemble's twenty-seven members who are finishing their tenure this season. Mary Baker of Frankfort, Ill., fought to contain tears as she joined the other graduating saxophonists at the front of the field. They and the rest of the seniors joined arms and swayed as Director of Bands Mallory Thompson conducted the University Hymn.
November 9, 2011 — EVANSTON, ILL. — A high school band in Palm Bay, Fla., cites the Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band among others as its inspiration, according to Florida Today in a recent article.
James Bernard Wilkins, director of the Panther Marching Band at Heritage High School, describes his band as "a combination of an older style from Texas A&M, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Northwestern universities and the historically black universities and colleges of today."
The Wildcat Band finds itself referenced in good company. Each of the named bands is a winner the Sudler Trophy, which is awarded by the John Philip Sousa Foundation to "recognize collegiate marching bands of particular excellence."
The foundation's statement of purpose for the award says receiving bands "have made oustanding contributions to the American way of life" and have "demsontrated the highest musical standards and innovative marching routines and ideas."
November 1, 2011 — EVANSTON, ILL. — For decades, the Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band has been fronted by the colors of the Big Ten Conference, presented by the band's color guard during the pregame show. It is a point of pride that Wildcat band performs the opponent's fight song, "as we honor our rivals for the day," as announced by Pete Friedmann, the Voice of the Wildcat Band.
However, Director of Athletic Bands Daniel J. Farris and Director of Bands Mallory Thompson always emphasize the vitrue sportsmanship during band camp.
"We are the ambassadors of Northwestern," says Farris, admonishing his student charges.
So when University of Michigan Marching Band member Patrick Fleming was killed in an auto accident in September while commuting to class, members of the Wildcat band joined with other Big Ten bands to show their support for the fallen Wolverine and fellow musician. The effort was just recognized publicly by Scott Boerma, director of the Michigan Marching and Athletic Bands, in an editorial appearing in The Michigan Daily.
At the October 8 match between Northwestern and Michigan, "The Northwestern University Marching Band had wristbands made that were inscribed with 'We Are With You,'" says Boerma.
October 30, 2011 — EVANSTON, ILL. — After the Wildcat football team pasted the Indiana Hoosers with a 58-38 victory in Bloomington, Ind. yesterday, members of the Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band will be playing today at a rematch of sorts between the two schools with a different kind of football. Kick off is at 1:30 p.m. for a men's soccer match between Northwestern and Indiana at Lakeside Field.
The band has just come off of a high-energy homecoming weekend which featured more than 140 Wildcat band alumni, known as NUMBALUMS, performing alongside the current NUMB students. About 40 graduates marched as their own unit in the homecoming parade last Friday night, and NUMBALUMS Joe Morrow and Sam Wlater hosted a pre-game tailgate on Saturday.
"It was a good drop-in opporutnity for alums who didn't want to march or play," says Amy Rushlow (J06), who once conducted the Wildcat band as its drum major.