This article was originally published in the fall Read the full issue here.edition of the Growl.
Having grown up in Evanston, Ian Weinberger has always been a huge fan of NUMB. "I grew up going to the pregame concerts in Welsh-Ryan (this was before Wildcat Alley...grumble grumble grumble) and was totally awed by the band," he said. "There's a video somewhere of an NU basketball game broadcast, where I am seen during a timeout, about three years old, 'conducting' the band as they played from across the arena."
Needless to say, by the time he was admitted Northwestern, Ian knew where he wanted to be—and it didn't take long for his infectious enthusiasm to take hold of the entire drumline. "From the first day I met Ian at Drumapalooza, I was amazed by the positive energy he exuded," said then–drumline captain Samir Mayekar '06. "Being a music performance major in NUMB can be a challenge due to competing priorities, but Ian became the heart and soul of the drumline due to his chops, leadership abilities, spirit, and unwavering P&G."
Many others fondly recall his cheerful spirit and the positive energy he brought to the drumline. "Our sophomore year, he was my snare buddy," said cymbals captain Jen O'Leary '09. "He always worked to bring out the best in everyone, foster a strong community within the drumline, and encourage people to make friends outside of the drumline, and he always keep spirits and morale high. He was usually very optimistic, even when things might not have been going so well football-wise."
"Being on drumline with people like him (and Rick Oleszczuk) who had been NU fans since childhood is probably one of the reasons I got so into it myself," said cymbalist Christina Schonberg '11. "Also, Jen O'Leary was his cymbal buddy in the stands at football games and seeing them have so much fun together (especially during Stacy's Mom) made it that much more fun for me!"
Ian didn't march all four years; as much as he loved the drumline and NUMB, he was also committed to developing his chops as a musical director for the stage. After graduation, Ian only waited a year before making the move to New York City—and he found the Northwestern mafia presence alive and well. Upon arrival, he took two fellow Northwestern alums—including NUMBALUM Brad Haak '98—out to coffee. "Musical directors have a weird path because we all have different backgrounds," Ian said. "Some were singers. Some were piano players who were then asked to conduct something. We don't audition very often for jobs, and a lot of [getting gigs] is word of mouth." Through networking, Ian landed two music intern jobs—one Broadway show (Anything Goes) and one off-Broadway (Death Takes a Holiday). The journey had begun.
Slowly, Ian was referred to bigger and better jobs. He got to know a music copyist named Emily Grishman, who began asking him to help out on her music copying workforce—proofreading, finding page turns, and so forth. That connection turned into Ian being the keyboard sub for Kinky Boots, which led to conducting Kinky Boots, which led to subbing for and conducting Book of Mormon, which led to the hottest thing on Broadway right now: Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton. Today, he's "flitting about" between those three shows—and loving life. "I'm lucky to be working on three shows that are all hits," he said. "You get lucky to work on one show that runs for a while. I'm very grateful."
Of course, the résumé credential isn't the only perk. Fellow NUMBALUM Jason Crystal '06 worked on the sound design of Hamilton, and the two routinely exchanged NUMB formalities. "Most conversations between the two of us would end with 'Go 'Cats,' and there was definitely a regular across-the-room (silent) growling, usually in greeting," Jason said. "He's incredibly talented and good natured, so it was always positive to have him in the room."
Ian says he's excited to be a part of the Broadway scene—but he'll never forget his NUMB roots. "I miss marching band all the time. I wear my drumline tracket with pride," he said. So is he going to write a musical based on his time in NUMB? What a ridiculous question! "It's my life's calling to put the marching band on stage."
That's a direct quote.* You read it here first, folks. Go 'Cats!
*In response to an incredibly leading question.