Band Celebrates 145 Years at Berea College

Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble anniversary concert flyer

145th Anniversary Concert for Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble flyer

The Berea College Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble invite the public to a celebratory concert on Thursday, October 26th at 7:30 pm in Gray Auditorium. This performance marks the band program’s 145-year history of musical excellence at Berea College and honors the thousands of musicians who have made the band program a huge success. The concert is free with a cake reception to follow.

The concert will feature the Wind Ensemble playing various folk, spiritual, and patriotic selections, including music by John Phillip Sousa. The Jazz Ensembles’ repertoire will feature various jazz and blues numbers, including some by Duke Ellington.

Those unable to attend the concert can watch online at: https://livestream.com/accounts/5135608/events/7779574

According to Dr. James Dreiling, assistant professor of music and director of the Berea College Jazz Ensemble and Wind Ensemble, the first mention of a band at Berea College was in connection with Commencement in June 1867, when a regional band was hired to perform. In 1870, a band comprised of Berea community members and Berea College students performed locally.

The first official band supported by Berea College gave a performance with the Harmonia Society, a campus choral ensemble, in 1872. This group consisted primarily of students and select townspeople, most of whom are believed to have been local Civil War veterans. The commencement program for the 1872-73 academic year also shows participation by a college supported band. Instrumentation was typical for the time period and the band was comprised of 10 to 12 brass and percussion instruments. Woodwind instruments like piccolos and clarinets were not included until shortly after the turn of the 20th century.

In 1932— during the tenure of Berea’s fourth president, William J. Hutchins—the first official music major was established. It provided a bachelor of arts degree in music, with curricula in piano, pipe organ, public school music, violin, or voice. The first music degree was awarded in June 1935 with 29 students earning a degree in the first 10 years it was offered.

Today, students in the Berea College Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble are part of a vibrant music department that also features 11 other instrumental and vocal performance groups. Students can obtain a bachelor of arts degree in music and a bachelor of arts degree in music education with vocal or instrumental emphasis.

For more information about the Berea College Music Program, visit: www.berea.edu/mus/