Cavalier Marching Band

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Cavalier Marching Band
Virginia Cavaliers Logo
School University of Virginia
Location Charlottesville, VA
Conference ACC
Founded 2003
Director William Pease
Assistant director
  • Andrew Koch
  • Michael Idzior
Members 300+
Fight song "The Cavalier Song"

The Cavalier Marching Band (CMB) is the premier marching ensemble at the University of Virginia. Under the direction of Dr. William E. Pease, the first full-time marching band director in University of Virginia history, the Cavalier Marching Band made its debut on September 11, 2004 after a considerable donation was made by University of Virginia benefactors Carl and Hunter Smith to found the band in 2003. Currently in its eleventh season, the band is composed of over 330 of the University of Virginia's best and brightest student musicians, with representatives from over 80 different majors from all 7 of the undergraduate schools. Whenever describing the composition of the members of the band, Pease typically states that almost none are music majors but almost a third hold leadership positions, thus emphasizing the virtue of student-self-governance, an ideal widely emphasized at the University of Virginia. On September 2, 2011, the Cavalier Marching Band moved into the Hunter Smith Band Building within the College of Arts & Sciences.

The band rehearses twice a week on non-home game weeks and three times a week on home game weeks. The band performs a traditional pregame show prior to the start of football games, which features school songs such as "The Cavalier Song" and "Hoo Time" to inspire athletes and thousands of cheering Wahoo fans. The band also performs a new, memorized halftime show for every home football game, with a wider variety of music ranging from rock to jazz, pop tunes to classical melodies, and movie favorites to swing charts. Following home games, selections from halftime are repeated for a postgame show for the remaining fans in Scott Stadium. The band usually travels to two or three away games each season and has occasionally given exhibition performances at high school competitions.

The Cavalier Marching Band was selected to march in the 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The CMB was also featured in the 2009 film Marching Band, a documentary directed by world-renowned French producer and writer Claude Miller.

The Cavalier Marching Band is assisted by the Beta Chi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi and the Iota Kappa Chapter of Tau Beta Sigma.


The band program at the University of Virginia has undergone multiple evolutions throughout its history. The first mentioning of a band at the university came in a 1908 edition of College Topics, the predecessor to the current The Cavalier Daily, which reported on William Howard Taft's victory over William Jennings Bryan in the U.S. presidential elections. College Topics recounted that the University Band joined a large group of students at a downtown billiard parlor and "added greatly to the general spirit of excitement by its presence."

The first band to perform for athletic events was formed in the mid-1920s to increase student enthusiasm at pep rallies and football games. Under the direction of Robert E. Lutz, the student band grew to 60 members through the 1940s and is credited with launching a campaign to encourage students to accompany the band and sing "The Cavalier Song" and "The Good Old Song." The Band was such a success that College Topics described it as "the best in the South."

The 1941 season saw the first tragedy for bands at the university when the band's bus caught fire on the way home from a football game at Yale. The fire destroyed all the uniforms and most of the student instruments. At the time, the spare music department instruments were "in a grievous state of disrepair, neglect, dilapidation and sometimes total un-usability." Unfazed by the blaze, the band, led by director James E. Berdahl, performed at a game against the University of Richmond, giving a "rousing performance" with borrowed instruments and without uniforms. Two grants from Carnegie Corp. provided post-fire instruments but the blaze would have lasting effects on the band program. The University Band experienced major funding droughts and could not sustain a permanent director throughout the 1950s. Despite an allocation of $12,000 for uniforms, instruments, and facilities by a faculty committee under University President Colgate Darden, many an outcry for additional funding fell upon deaf ears as the band dwindled to 25 members by the early 1960s.

After the 1962 season, the members of the failing band program voted to forgo uniformed performances at University football games and the marching band closed down. To make up for its absence, the Athletic Department asked the Concert Band to play in the stands during athletic events; however, tension developed when a new faculty band director advocated a shift towards more orchestral performances. Many of the students were chafed by the idea and splintered from the Concert Band in September 1969 to form a Dixieland Band which then became a student-run pep band.

The final progression of the University of Virginia band program came thanks to a large gift from Carl and Hunter Smith, which provided money for an official university marching band. The new marching band's director, William Pease, was hired in August 2003. One of Pease's first moves as director was to invite members of the pep band to join the new band. After a year of planning and recruiting, the Cavalier Marching Band members settled into the program's first band camp on August 20, 2004 and began learning the pregame material as well as the first halftime show. The pregame show incorporates many of the traditional school songs which had fallen into obscurity. The university had high expectations of its new marching band and on September 11, 2004 at the home opener against the University of North Carolina, the 170-member Cavalier Marching Band performed its pregame and halftime shows after 40 years of absence in front of 62,790 fans. Through its first decade, the Cavalier Marching Band has thrill its fans with memorable halftime shows and has performed with many special guest artists including The Temptations Review, Al Chez, Tom "Bones" Malone, Sid McGinnis, Ivan Rutherford, and Chad Hugo.

Post-Season Appearances[edit]

  • 2004 MPC Computers Bowl
  • 2005 Music City Bowl
  • 2007 Gator Bowl
  • 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl
  • 2017 Military Bowl

Band Day[edit]

The Cavalier Marching Band hosts over 700 high school band students at its annual "Band Day." The event encourages musicianship beyond the high school level and promotes the university as a whole. Students from high schools all over Virginia are invited to perform with the Cavalier Marching Band during a halftime show.

Cavalier Band Camps[edit]

The Cavalier Marching Band hosts a number of summer camps each year for high school drum majors, color guard members, marching percussionists, feature twirlers, and other student leaders as well as high school and middle school concert bands. The camps feature leadership seminars, hands-on teaching experience, marching fundamentals, a tour of the UVA grounds, sessions with admission officers, and more.

Olympic Sports Band[edit]

Members of the Cavalier Marching Band have also performed for the following University of Virginia athletic sporting events:

  • Basketball (HOOps Band)
  • Baseball
  • Field Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Rowing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Track
  • Volleyball
  • Wrestling

Notable Accomplishments[edit]

In their inaugural season in 2004, for their October 7 game against Clemson, the band performed with The Temptations Review starring Dennis Edwards.[1] The band performed again with The Temptations Review starring Dennis Edwards in a sold-out home crowd against Penn State in 2012.

The band was featured in the halftime show at the 2005 Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee, and was declared champion of the event's "Battle of the Bands" the night prior, defeating the historic 300-piece University of Minnesota Marching Band.

Early in the fall 2007 season, the Cavalier Marching Band Drumline was chosen by Yamaha Corporation of North America to represent them in an advertisement campaign that was aimed at high school students to promote Yamaha musical products. Interest in the Cavalier Drumline was initiated when a representative of the Yamaha Corporation paid a visit to a spring rehearsal. The representative noticed and commented on the drumline's professional attitude and was compelled to have them added to a national advertising campaign.[2]

In the fall of 2007, Chad Hugo performed with the band during the halftime show of the November 3 game against Wake Forest along with his brother Victor Hugo, on saxophone and keyboard, respectively. In addition to the band, over 300 high school marching band students accompanied them on the field, playing three pieces Hugo had helped produce: Justin Timberlake's Like I Love You, No Doubt's Hella Good, and N*E*R*D's She Wants to Move.

The December following the violence at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2007, the Cavalier Marching Band joined forces with The Marching Virginians of Virginia Tech to host a joint concert, held at John Paul Jones Arena. The aim of hosting this concert was to raise money for scholarship funds at both schools. Half of all proceeds went to the CMB's scholarship fund while half were given to a memorial fund to honor one of the Marching Virginians who was killed during the violence.

In 2013, a competitive indoor color guard was formed and was named the "UVA CaptiVAtion Winter Guard". Its purpose is to provide existing color guard members the opportunity to improve their skills and compete against other area color guards during the off-season. Most recently, the guard received 3rd place in the 2014 Atlantic Indoor Association circuit championships in the Independent A division.

The Cavalier Marching Band performed in the 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, performing a swing-style composition of the school's historic and traditional "Good Old Song". It was the band's first appearance in the Parade.


  1. ^ "Cavalier Marching Band to Perform with The Temptations". CSTV. 2004-10-04. Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  2. ^ "Strike Up the Band! Ad Campaign Gives Cavalier Marching Band National Exposure". UVA Today. 2007-09-06. Archived from the original on 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 

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