November 18, 2016
West Chester University's Incomparable Golden Rams Marching Band is one of only 10 U.S. marching bands to participate in the 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. NBC10 will broadcast the parade from NYC at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 26.
"We are taking West Chester's party to New York," says WCU's Director of Bands Andrew Yozviak '91, associate professor of Applied Music, referring to the band's style and energy.
WCU will perform on the Macy's star at 11:44 a.m., just prior to the University of Illinois band, which precedes Santa's arrival. The live performance is only one minute and 15 seconds on camera.
Senior Drum Major Jacqueline Cotto says as a native New Yorker (Suffern, N.Y.), she "always dreamed of marching in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I watched every year on TV as the best bands across America would march in the parade. This is a huge honor and a dream come true for me. Our band will be able to display all their hard work and pride in front of millions of viewers."
Joseph Cosentino, also a senior Drum Major, agrees. "It's a rare opportunity to perform for such a large audience. The entire band is working hard so they can perform at their best."
When the chosen bands were first announced, the parade's band selection committee said WCU earned a spot based on the band's "very unique approach that mixes fantastic college level musicianship with a high energy and artistic style."
What's special about the Golden Rams Marching Band, says Yozviak, is that they have "a reputation for trying new and different things, being unusual. They're able to flip a switch from their symphonic performance to pop tunes and do it convincingly."
The band always draws a unique group of student musicians who meld to become that fluid organism that is an excellent marching band, but "This is hands down the easiest group I've had in 10 years," he notes. "It's a direct testament to the student leadership. They are responsible, punctual, dedicated. There's only one way they got this good: hard work."
Drum Major Cotto, who's majoring in music education and performance with a concentration in flute, says teamwork is her biggest take-away. "In marching band, there is no first string of players. Everyone is on the field and everyone has to put everything they have into the performance. Every band member is important in making the show a success and that's what is amazing about marching band."
An Honors College computer science major graduating in December, Cosentino adds, "Being in band has certainly made me stronger as a team player. Having been a section leader and drum major, I have learned to be the best example I can be while helping others achieve their best. I carry the lessons I've learned in band with me every day."
Yozviak writes the music and arrangements and credits the other directors on his team: color guard director Todd Marcocci '87 (choreography) and M. Gregory Martin, WCU assistant professor of music education and associate director of bands (drill). Marcocci, president of Under the Sun Productions, Inc., was the driving force behind the marching band's first Macy's appearance in 1986.
Two other WCU alumni are connected with this year's parade: William E. Pease '87, the first full-time band director at University of Virginia, whose band is also in the parade; and Dennis Rhodes '72, president of Macy's Great American Marching Band and Music Tours Unlimited, Inc.
Marching bands have to fund their own way to NYC, and WCU donors stepped up to meet the cost of transportation, food and lodging for the three days the band has to be in NYC, but donations are always accepted.
The band heads off to NYC at 12 noon on Tuesday, Nov. 24, from the front of Swope Music Building. Well-wishers are welcome.