Marching band alumni will return to MSU for halftime performance at homecoming game
A special musical performance is happening at Montana State University’s homecoming football game this weekend. Dozens of alumni are returning to play with MSU’s Spirit of the West marching band to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
MSU alumni and trumpet player Bret Tate remembers his first football game as a marching band member in the fall of 1977: it was 35 degrees with wind blowing sleet.
Tate says the social connections are what kept him coming back and playing with the marching band through his college years.
“You always hear about the athletes, the football players, basketball players that make lifelong connections. But the music department has the additional benefit of not only do you maintain those connections over the years, but until you die you can play music, so you can still do the thing you did with those people well on towards the end of your life,” he said.
Tate graduated in 1981. Back then he said the marching band was about 60 people. It's grown to close to 200 today who on Saturday will join with more than 75 marching band alumni, the oldest from the class of 1956, for a pregame and halftime performance.
“You’re going to be able to see close to 300 people on the field and hear close to 300 people on the field, which I think will be pretty impressive in its own right. And they have the addition of Patrick Sheridan, a world renown tuba player that is going to come in and perform with that band at halftime,” he said.
Susan Cornish who previously played in the Spirit of the West and is now coordinating the alumni event says the plan is to have a similar performance every five years to coincide with MSU and marching band anniversaries.
“It also gives people a chance to rekindle those friendships back when they were in marching band or just catch up with old classmates,” she said.
An online auctionis being held over the weekend with items such as a quilt and pillows made of old band uniforms. Proceeds will support the Spirit of the West marching band.
For their homecoming game on Saturday MSU plays Portland State. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.