Diamond Marching Band to represent university in London

The Diamond Marching Band recently received an invitation to perform in the 2014 London New Year’s Day Celebration.

The Diamond Marching Band practices in Presser Hall. The band has seen an increase in membership during the last five years, from 125 members to 205 members. | AJA ESPINOSA / TTN
The Diamond Marching Band practices in Presser Hall. The band has seen an increase in membership during the last five years, from 125 members to 205 members. | AJA ESPINOSA / TTN

Temple’s Diamond Marching Band has seen an increase in morale in the past year, from increased membership to moving to the Big East Conference. Now, the band members can add international recognition to the list; the band was invited to take part in 2014 London New Year’s Day Parade and Festival.

“We like to make people say, ‘wow,’” said Matthew Brunner, the director of athletic bands for the Diamond Marching Band.

This is the goal for band members as they prepare to participate in the London parade, which is televised around the world.

The majority of the marching band was surprised by the invitation to perform across the pond. Some band members, however, had to keep quiet about the upcoming opportunity, a feat which drum major Douglas Friese described as difficult.

“The drum majors were told about a week in advance, and it was a big secret,” Friese, a senior marketing major, said. “That was tough.”

The surprise was introduced to members of the marching band when they met for one of their scheduled practices. Instead of their usual rehearsal, the band received an invitation in person from London representative and former Lord Mayor of Westminster Catherine Longworth.

The Diamond Marching Band has seen substantially increased interest in the past five years, during which member numbers went from 125 to 205 members, Brunner said. Considering only 16 bands from the U.S. were invited to be involved in the massive New Year’s Day parade, the Diamond Marching Band’s amplified membership and dedication has been beneficial.

Band members meet for two-hour practices every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare their music and choreography.

The dancing by the marching band that Temple students see at football games is the result of what Friese describes as a major effort, as there are new musical routines each week, which require plenty of time spent practicing to perfect.

In addition, Temple’s marching band members arrive a week earlier for the fall semester than other students. The time put in reflects the focus on providing a good show for its audience.

“We do a lot of dancing. We like to get nasty,” Friese said.

As a drum major, whose job is to conduct and keep the band organized, Friese will be one of the most visible members of the Diamond Marching Band at the London New Year’s Day Celebration and Festival. This is not a cause of nerves or apprehension for him, Friese said, since he is a seasoned band member and avid performer. Rather, it is a source of excitement.

“I’m most excited to stand in front of a band I’m really proud of and show the world what we’re made of,” Freise said.

Temple students in the Diamond Marching Band said they are very excited to travel outside the U.S.

Helen Gassmann, a junior history major, expressed her great anticipation of the trip to London as a baton twirler in the color guard of the marching band.

“For me personally, the London trip is an exciting opportunity to represent Temple University and the sport of baton twirling to a brand-new audience overseas,” Gassmann said.

Her pride for her fellow color guard members as well as the musicians who make up the Diamond Marching Band is apparent.

“The musicians and color guard members that make up the DMB have been so dedicated and put so much hard work into the group. As a twirler, it is an honor for me to have the opportunity to work and travel with them,” she said.

An opportunity to perform in London is not without cost, but one that is considered absolutely worth the money by the band’s members. As a result, the marching band plans to hold a number of fundraisers throughout the next spring and fall semesters, the details of which are still to be announced.

“The students will have to cover [the cost],” Brunner said. “But it’s considerably cheaper than if they were to go to London by themselves as a trip. We’ll do fundraisers to help offset the cost.”

Band members certainly seem to view the opportunity to perform in a parade that will get international recognition as a worthy investment.

“It’s the most watched parade for New Year’s Day around the world,” Friese said. “It may not seem like a big thing in the U.S., but we’ll get [international] coverage.”

Students in the marching band said they are enthusiastic about the opportunity to represent Temple and the Diamond Marching Band in London, and will be more than willing to raise and contribute the money necessary to do so.

Band members also said they hope Temple student body will tune in to see them perform in 2014, when their effort and commitment to the Diamond Marching Band is on display for a statewide audience of half a million viewers in addition to millions of viewers worldwide.

“We’ll make sure we represent the university well,” Brunner said.

Erin Edinger-Turoff can be reached at erin.edinger-turoff@temple.edu.

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