In photos: Getting the band back together

The University of Alberta hasn't had a marching band since the 1960s. Thanks to education professor Tom Dust, a group of students, alumni and community members have picked up the baton to assemble the university's first marching band in more than 50 years. (Photos by Richard Siemens)

Tom Dust, professor of music education in the Faculty of Education

Tom Dust, professor of music education in the Faculty of Education, has been at the U of A for over 25 years and is the orchestra conductor during the university's convocation ceremonies. For many years, Dust has worked at resurrecting the University of Alberta Marching Band. Now his dream has become a reality.

The Golden Bears Marching Band drum

The Golden Bears Marching Band drum. The first bands at the U of A were associated with the Canadian Officers Training Corps, which trained officers on campus for over 50 years. In the 1960s, the Students' Union sponsored a marching band, and the bass drum has been in storage since the last band marched in 1968.

A U of A Marching Band member laughs during rehearsal.

Alumna Olivia Hares shares a laugh with bandmates. Dust is offering a spring session course-EDSE 401/501: Education Band on Parade-for undergrads and graduate students. Dust has also put a call out to anyone who might be interested in performing with the band.

The U of A Cheer Song rests on a cymbal.

"Ring out a cheer for our Alberta!" Dust wrote a march arrangement of the U of A Cheer Song for the band to perform. The Cheer Song was originally written by student Chet Lambertson in 1935, and was later arranged by Richard Eaton in the 1950s.

The U of A Marching Band may look like a ragtag group during rehearsal, but wait until you hear them.

It looks like a ragtag group, until you hear them play. To date, more than 30 people have joined the marching band, including current students, alumni and future students at the U of A. The band has also received support from the U of A's Office of Alumni Relations and a private donor.

Here comes the U of A Marching Band!

The band shows off some fancy footwork. In addition to learning new songs, the band has had to learn how to march. This involves learning how to stay in step, mark time (march in place), turn corners and respond to the directions of the drum major.

The U of A Marching Band practises their co-ordination as they march on campus.

Forward ... march! The band currently features a large number of instruments, most of which are owned by the students. They include sousaphones, trombones, saxophones, trumpets, clarinets, flutes, piccolos, snare drums, bass drums, glockenspiel and cymbals.

The U of A Marching Band parades alongside the Students' Union Building during practice.

Marching bands are a common sight at American athletics events, with some bands having in excess of 300 players, but there are very few at Canadian universities. Dust hopes that will change as a new generation of musicians pick up the mace and forge ahead.

The U of A Marching Band played over the May long weekend in Thorsby, and has two more events in St. Albert and Stony Plain. After that, they'll wrap up for the summer.

The show must go on. This past weekend, the band played in the rain in Thorsby. They have two more events coming up in St. Albert and Stony Plain. After that, they'll wrap up for the summer. (Photo: Greg Campbell)