By Glen Mason
Arts and Culture Correspondent
New Journal and Guide
Strike up the band!
“Right here in river city!” No pun intended with homage to Broadway composer Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man.”
The Norfolk State University Spartan “Legion” Marching Band is in rehearsal. It will be in one form, or another, for the next eight months. Please support our ambassadors to help defray some of their travel expenses. Ask the university how to help raise funds or you may make a donation by contacting the Office of Development.
The young entertainers are preparing for the performance of a lifetime. They are preparing for a historic appearance in the 2023 Tournament of Roses in Pasadena California.
For many of the student entertainers it is an opportunity to put a footprint in cultural history with the veneer of a time-honored sports event. I coined the phrase student-entertainer because someone forgot the marching band when the term student-athlete was coined. If you’re in band at a HBCU you learn music and choreography. Dance is an integral part of the half-time show. NSU’s Legion is the epitome of a band at half-time.
When it comes to their music, the Spartans are symphonic.
“We were incredibly impressed with the huge sound, the energy, the precision and pure joy exhibited in the (application)video. What impressed us the most was the character of the students, their commitment to excellence and the community,” said Amy Wainscott, president of the Tournament of Roses, when asked what impressed the selection committee about the Marching Spartan Legion.
“I had the opportunity to meet Dr. J (Javaune Adams-Gaston) for the first time as we presented the official Pasadena Tournament of Roses flag.
It is clear that a major part of the Spartan Legion’s success is from her unwavering support for the music program, staff and students.”
NSU’s invitation to perform at The Tournament of Roses parade isn’t the Spartan Legion’s first 15 minutes of fame. The musicians helped the pop band Justice win Best Dance Electronic album.
Now their fame is leveling up to the top of Nielsen Ratings. Orchestral!
“I am an alto saxophone player, and Nansemond River graduate from Suffolk, (VA). To me, to perform in the Rose Bowl means to travel with my close friends and band mates and work together to have a great performance and enjoy our time together,” said Aiden Podruchny, at the recent Rose Bowl flag and commemorative patch presentation at the Wilder Center recently.
“Appearing in the Rose Bowl Parade is important simply because we’re able to showcase our talent at Norfolk State to the country, pretty much to the world, who doesn’t get a chance to hear about Norfolk State,” said Jacobi Easter, a tuba player majoring in music education. “We have a lot of great musicians here, and in order to be able to showcase those talents to the world, on a new stage like this, it is a really exciting.”
Saxophone Aiden Podruchny