Baylor Bands Celebrate Centennial

  • News Photo 1243
    The Baylor Golden Wave Marching Band during one of its halftime performances in 2002.
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    The Baylor Golden Wave Marching Band during its traditional march into Floyd Casey Stadium before kickoff.
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    The 250-member Golden Wave Band in the east stands at Floyd Casey Stadium.
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    Come rain or shine, the Golden Wave Marching Band takes to the field, shown in formation during the Homecoming game between the Bears and Kansas State.
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    The Courtside Players pep up the spirit at Baylor volleyball and basketball games at the Ferrell Center.
April 9, 2003

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Baylor University's band program will celebrate its centennial in April with what else - music!

The annual President's Concert on April 12 in Jones Concert Hall will mark the 100th anniversary of the Baylor band program with the world premiere of Exhortation and Praise! by Alfred Reed. A prolific composer who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Baylor, Reed was commissioned for this work specifically for the band program's centennial celebration. Reed also conducted the university orchestra while a student at Baylor.

Monies for the commission were given by the Baylor band department, Baylor Alumni Band Association, Kappa Kappa Psi Band Fraternity and Tau Beta Sigma Band Sorority.

Today's Baylor band program is led by Dr. Kevin L. Sedatole, a Baylor graduate who returned to his alma mater in 2002 after serving as director of two of the top collegiate bands in the country - the University of Texas Longhorn Band and the University of Michigan Marching Band. While Sedatole attended Baylor, he was a member of the Baylor Wind Ensemble and now conducts the group, renowned as one of the premiere collegiate musical organizations in the country.

"The Baylor Wind Ensemble is what attracted me to Baylor as a student, as well as its two very fine conductors, Richard Floyd and Michael Haithcock," Sedatole said. "When the opportunity came for me to take over as director of bands [at Baylor], it was something I just could not pass up. To conduct this fine ensemble and lead such a superior band program is a real honor. Besides, who doesn't want to return to their alma mater?"


Envisioning A Bright Future

As the Baylor band program celebrates 100 years and the university sets its sights on achieving the goals of Baylor 2012, the university's 10-year vision, Sedatole said the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band will continue to perform and grow in stature among the nation's finest college band programs. Future plans for the Baylor bands include a new record project, featuring works that have been commissioned for the band program.

Two of Baylor's most recognizable programs - the Golden Wave Marching Band and other athletic bands - will grow in size, as well as in spirit, and that pleases one of their biggest fans, Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr.

"For 100 years the Baylor University Golden Wave Band has stirred the hearts of Baylor faithful with its powerful music and creative marching drills," Sloan said. "It is impossible to imagine a Baylor team taking the field without the accompaniment of the Golden Wave Band. The band is as much a part of Baylor tradition as the green and gold."

Sedatole said the marching band will increase to 300 members - "Just a few less than a really big school just south on I-35," he laughed. "We will perform to the best of our ability which I believe is at a very high standard and we will continue to show the greatest spirit that we can at all athletic events."


Military Roots

The Baylor program actually has its roots in the military. The first official Baylor band - a 28-piece regulation military band under the direction of Charles Parker - was organized in 1903. In 1904, the band's military operations ceased but the name - "Baylor Military Band" - remained. During the program's formative years, which included the World Wars, directors such as R.D. Perry, Gid Waldrop and R.I. Morse provided much-needed leadership and stability.

Although the band was an integral part of campus life, it wasn't until 1928 that new uniforms inspired a lasting name - the Golden Wave Band. That fall, under the direction of Everett McCracken, the Baylor Marching Band introduced its new golden uniforms at a Baylor-SMU football game. In the spring of 1929, as the 43-member group made a tour of west Texas on behalf of the Greater Baylor Campaign, a reporter wrote that the band seemed to be sweeping across the land "like a Golden Wave." The name, Golden Wave Band, was born.

The marching band began to flourish after World War II, as military veterans returned to campus. The quality of the Golden Wave Band received international recognition under the leadership of Donald I. Moore, who joined Baylor in 1948. During Moore's 20-year tenure, the band accompanied the football team to bowl appearances, represented Baylor at Baptist meetings around the world and grew to 135 members, more than tripling the size of the original Golden Wave Band.


With Growth Comes Opportunity

After Moore retired in 1969, Baylor graduate Gene C. Smith became director of the Golden Wave Band, creating halftime shows filled with energy and excitement. As the band grew, musical opportunities for all students blossomed with the creation of separate concert bands in the spring.

In the fall of 1972, Richard Floyd became director of bands at Baylor that performed in two Cotton Bowls and the Peach Bowl. He also oversaw the growth of the Baylor Wind Ensemble, which developed into one of the premiere collegiate musical organizations in the United States.

Michael Haithcock, who served as director of bands from 1982 to 2001, watched the Golden Wave Band grow from 188 members to a peak of 285 members in the 1985 and 1986 seasons. While continuing the many Baylor traditions, the band introduced the corps style concepts of marching and arranging during these years while performing at the Liberty and Bluebonnet bowls in support of Coach Grant Teaff's outstanding football teams. The Courtside Players, a "pep" band that plays at basketball and volleyball games, also was founded under Haithcock's leadership, as was the highly successful alumni band program in 1985. As the marching band grew, the total band program also increased with the addition of a third concert band and a graduate program.

Jay Gilbert, who came to Baylor as associate director of bands in 1988, directed the Golden Wave Band from 1988-91. Chris Knighten, a Baylor graduate, was appointed interim director for the 1992 marching season and led the band in performances at the Copper Bowl. Gerald Luckhardt came to Baylor as associate director of bands and director of the Golden Wave Band in 1993. Luckhardt's leadership prepared the Golden Wave Band for the beginning of a new era in Baylor athletics, as the university became a member of the Big 12 Conference. Luckhardt also led the band in performances at the Alamo Bowl, secured Floyd Casey Stadium as the host site for the Texas State U.I.L. Marching Contest beginning in the fall of 1996 and inaugurated the "Golden Wave Band: In Concert" series. Jeffrey Grogan became director of the Golden Wave Marching Band and associate director of bands from fall 1997 through 2002.

The bands are now led by Sedatole, who returned to his alma mater in 2002. Also a Baylor graduate, Barry Kraus joined the Baylor School of Music last year as associate director of bands, which includes conducting the 250-member Golden Wave Marching Band and the Symphonic Band. A Baylor graduate, Kraus followed the same path as Sedatole - coming to Baylor from the University of Texas where he was assistant director of bands. Another Baylor alumnus, Isaiah Odajima, spent the volleyball and basketball seasons conducting the popular Courtside Players.

As the Baylor band program moves into its next century, the School of Music will be in the national spotlight in 2003 with the airing of "Christmas at Baylor," a high definition television special that features Baylor orchestras and choirs performing at the annual Christmas concerts. The holiday program will be available to the nation's PBS stations for broadcast during the upcoming holiday season.

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