Drake Bands, Preesented by Cowles Library
Drake University Bands,                125 Years of Excellence

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Listen to the Music

 

By Dr. Thompson Brandt

In the beginning, sounds of music were heard at Drake. When the university opened in 1881, the catalog described a curriculum in voice and piano. At the same time, a band led by a student was likely formed. Still, no written account of Drake’s band can be traced until The Delphic, the student “magazine,” announced: “the band boys are learning to play some fine pieces.” John Drake, son of the university’s namesake Francis Marion Drake, served as student leader of the first known university band. He also “alternated” between playing B-flat clarinet and E-flat cornet. Other versatile members of this fourteen-piece group played more than one instrument as well!

Sounds of music continue to be heard at Drake. Performers in Drake’s bands have shared the thrill of presenting music to discriminating, appreciative audiences. The tradition of this program, established first by a student-led ensemble and guided throughout the last hundred years by eminent directors, appears intact. A number of directors launched this heritage, yet only three men have conducted the bands since 1937. The university owes Gordon Bird (1937-1954), Don Marcouiller (1956-1987), and Robert Meunier (1988- ) more than it can repay. What is the outlook for the bands at Drake? The horizon appears radiant.

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