Thunder of the East Marching Band

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Thunder of the East
Thunder of the East logo.png
SchoolUniversity at Buffalo
LocationBuffalo, New York
Founded1920; re-founded as the Thunder of the East in 1999
DirectorJames E. Mauck
Fight song"Victory March"
Motto"Power. Precision. Passion."[1]

The Thunder of the East is the marching band of the University at Buffalo in the State University of New York system.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] UB's first marching band was created in 1920, and disbanded in 1927. It was revived in 1946, increasing in size and reputation until about 1970. It was known as "The Pride of the East." At that time, it was dissolved upon UB's departure from Division I athletics. In 1981, some UB students continued the tradition of playing music at UB's home football and basketball games by forming UB's Pep Band. In anticipation of UB's return to Division I athletics, a marching band was formed in 1999 and named, "Thunder of the East." The band debuted at the University at Buffalo Stadium on September 11, 1999. The Thunder of the East is currently led by James E. Mauck; and performs at UB's Buffalo Bulls home football games, as well as in other musical venues.


UB Pep Band with Conductor Norm Alexander at UB Homecoming Football Game, October 1991, 10 Year Anniversary
UB Pep Band at UB Homecoming Football Game vs. Hofstra, October 1992

The first marching band at the University at Buffalo was formed in 1920 by 15 students.[11][12] At that time, performances were limited to a few concerts, and marching during the school's football games.[11][12] The band eventually dissolved in 1927, but many attempts were made to revive it.[11][12] The band was re-formed in 1946 by Gerald Marx.[11][12] A saxophone player, Marx brought together around 50 players to play and march at university football and basketball games.[11][12] They also played concerts around the area, including one in Kleinhans Music Hall, home of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.[11][12] In 1952, The Air Force ROTC Band took over the marching duties on campus, leaving the university band only non-marching duties.[11][12]

In 1956, the newly formed music department at the university took over the marching band after the ROTC band failed to meet expectations during its existence, and upon the insistence of UB's president, Clifford C. Furnas.[11][12] Robert Mols, PhD, led this new band, writing the current fight song, "Victory," that is heard at football games and basketball games today.[11][12] Mols wanted the band to be comparable to Ivy League marching bands, creating uniforms that resembled uniforms of the Ivy Leaguers of the day.[11][12] The band opened to much success and fanfare thanks to the efforts of Mols and the band's many weeks of practice before their premiere.[11][12] In 1959, Buffalo Philharmonic member Lowell Shaw took over leading the marching band; Mols went back to conducting the university Concert Band.[11][12] In 1961, the band again changed leaders with Frank J. Cipolla at the helm.[11][12] The University purchased new uniforms and a new version of the Alma Mater was written.[11][12] It was at this time that the band acquired its first nickname, "Pride of the East."[11][12] In 1968, the band had the distinction of being the first group on campus to move to the new North Campus to what is now Bissell Hall.[11][12] In 1969, the band marched in Richard Nixon's inauguration parade.[11][12] Between 1961 and the early 1970s, the band grew from only 50 members to over 300 members.[11][12] The university joined the SUNY system in 1962, eventually leading to the elimination of the football team and with it the need for a marching band.[11][12]

In 1981, a small group of students created a pep band for the then Division III football team.[11][12] Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the band grew to become a Student Association group, so beginning the University at Buffalo Blue Noise Pep Band.[11][12] During this time, there was talk of restarting the marching band, however it never developed.[11][12] In 1999, football returned to Division I. With this, the university decided a marching band was again a necessity. Mark Flynn was made the director,[11][12] and with the efforts of Kappa Kappa Psi, many local high schools, and Student Affairs, the Thunder of the East made its debut on September 11, 1999.[11][12][13] In 2000, the band began its second season with new uniforms and new words to Victory March written by Mols, the original composer.[11][12] It's believed that there were never any words for the original song. In the fall of 2001, the band made its first road trip in nearly 30 years to West Point to cheer on the Buffalo Bulls at Army's Michie Stadium.


The Thunder of the East is a Drum Corps style band that incorporates traditional marching band instrumentation. Instruments included are:

  • Piccolo/Flute
  • Clarinet
  • Alto/Tenor/Baritone Saxophone
  • Trumpet
  • Mellophone (Horn in F)
  • Trombone
  • Baritone
  • Tuba (Contra)
  • Drumline – Snare/Tenor/Bass Drums and Cymbals

Visual section[edit]

The Thunder of the East also has a Visual section to add artistic style to their performances, including:

  • Color Guard
  • Featured Twirlers
  • UB Dazzlers Dance Team


Several practices are held per week during the fall semester. Students in the band may also take MUS 130, an optional two-credit course. Rehearsals may be held at Kunz Field, the former football stadium, UB Stadium or indoors at Baird hall, home of the university's music department.

University affiliation[edit]

Marching band is associated with UB's Student Life, and together with the Pep Band, comprises the Athletic Bands. The band is not part of the Music Department at the university. However, all students in the band are given the option of taking MUS 130, a 2-credit course.[11]

Band camp[edit]

Members of the Thunder of the East arrive one week prior to the start of UB's fall semester. Students are able to move into their assigned dorms prior to camp, allowing them to avoid the rush and chaos of university-wide move in day. During the week of Fun in the Sun, members are taught the marching style of the Thunder of the East, fitted for uniforms, and begin to learn that season's music and field show. Also during the time members of the drumline and Dazzlers Dance Team audition for their spots.



UB's Buffalo Bulls Mascot with UB Pep Band Member, October 1990

James E. Mauck has been the director for the Thunder of the East since 2002. He received his undergraduate and master's degrees in music performance at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and is currently working towards a PhD in Music Education. He is the head of the Department of Athletic Bands at the University at Buffalo. This includes the Thunder of the East and the Blue Noise Pep Band.


The band acquires help from several additional instructors.

Drum majors[edit]

The drum majors for the Thunder of the East are the on-field commanders of the band, responsible for instructing proper marching technique and rehearsal etiquette. The drum majors primary responsibility is conducting the band. Drum majors are chosen by the director after a series of auditions, held in the spring semester. The current drum majors for the 2019 season are Craig Adriaansen and Madison Richardson.


The band is also led by a number of students that are elected at the end of the marching band season.

Section leaders[edit]

Each section has a student leader that focuses on their specified instrument. Their responsibilities include helping the freshman learn the band's unique style of marching, helping the instructors teach the music to their appropriate section, and providing leadership under the instructors and officers. Section Leaders are selected by the Staff and Elected Officers.


The Thunder of the East performs many times throughout the year.[11][12] The band performs at every home football game, travels to at least one away game per year, and attends other events, such as parades and exhibition performances at New York State Field Band competitions.[14] The Thunder of the East also accompanies the team to any/all Post-Season Performances. In 2008, the band followed the Bulls on their historic run to the MAC Championship and their first ever Bowl Game.

Game day[edit]

The band starts game day by warming up and performing a pre-game concert in front of Slee Hall, the university's concert hall. The sounds from this performance can be heard around most of the North Campus, in effect being the first of many pre-game "pep rallies" that the band will perform. The band then marches down the road, playing in parade formation, to UB Stadium where it will perform at 1–2 different tailgate parties and the Blue and White Club. While marching, the band plays selections from its halftime show. When the band arrives at the stadium, it takes the field to perform a pre-game show. The band then goes to its section in the stadium, next to the student section and plays typical game tunes along with some of its halftime show. At halftime, the band performs its show facing the home crowd on the west side of the stadium. After the performance, the band returns to the stands to again join the crowd cheering on the Bulls. After the game, the band performs its halftime show facing the east side of the stadium, consisting mostly of students.


The band travels to away games and many other events. Recent trips include:

Song lyrics[edit]

Victory March[edit]

The following are lyrics to UB's "Victory March" song:[15]

Traditional lyrics: "Fight, fight for Buffalo; Be proud to fight for your dear Blue and White. So Hit 'em high, Hit 'em low, Throw 'em high, Throw 'em low; Fight for your dear old Bulls. (Go! Bulls! Go!) Cheer, cheer for Buffalo; Our spirit will be with you 'til the end... So play the game as best you can; For the glory of our dear Buffalo."[15]

Current lyrics: "Fight, Fight for Buffalo; Be proud to fight for our dear Blue and White; So, thunder through, Go Blue! Give a cheer, never fear! Don't stop 'til we have won! (Go! Bulls! Go!) Cheer, cheer for Buffalo; Our spirit will be with you 'till the end; So show your colors proud and true; For the glory of our dear Buffalo!"[15]

Alma Mater[edit]

Following are lyrics to UB's "Alma Mater" song:[16]

"Verse 1: The pride of our spirit and tradition; Our Alma Mater's truth and name declare. Celebrate our history and wisdom; O' let us all prepare to sing her glory.

Refrain: To Buffalo all hail to thee; Noble and strong it's our University! To Blue and White pledge loyalty; Singing I will always remember thee!

Verse 2: We'll ever keep our standards high; And sing UB's praises to the sky. Receiving the finest education; Our knowledge we impart unto the nations.

Verse 3: Our friends we've made with ties that bind; A union of our spirit heart and mind. Together we'll continue life's journey; O' may dear Buffalo for ever be."[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Thunder of the East, UB Today, Winter 2009, Buffalo, NY: University at Buffalo Alumni Association, Fryling, K., Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  2. ^ University at Buffalo marching band, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY: University at Buffalo, 2014, Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  3. ^ Student life: Marching band, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY: University at Buffalo, 2014, Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  4. ^ Finding aid for the UB Marching Band collection, 1960–2001, University at Buffalo Libraries, Buffalo, NY: University at Buffalo, 2013, Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  5. ^ Buffalo Bulls Thunder of the East to get more support, SB Nation: Bull Run, Vox Media, Inc., February 13, 2014, Riordan, T., Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  6. ^ UB Thunder of the East Marching Band 2012: Home opener show (video), YouTube, September 12, 2012, Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  7. ^ Business leaders chair University at Buffalo gala to support student scholarships, US Federal News Service, Including US State News, Washington, DC: US Federal News Service, October 12, 2010, Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  8. ^ Crowd at opener thrills Bulls, Buffalo News, Buffalo, NY: Berkshire Hathaway, September 1, 2006, McKissic, R., Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  9. ^ Student renters, University Heights residents band together at UB block party, McClatchy – Tribune Business News, Washington, DC: McClatchy – Tribune Business News, September 2, 2013, Popiolkowski, J., Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  10. ^ Marching band also returning to UB gridiron, Buffalo News, Buffalo, NY: Berkshire Hathaway, September 10, 1999, Brady, K., Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa UB: Bands history, UB: Bands history, July 22, 2002, Zaepfel, J., Retrieved March 30, 2014.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z A brief history of the University at Buffalo's marching bands, A brief history of the University at Buffalo marching bands, July 22, 2002, Zaepfel, J., Retrieved March 30, 2014.
  13. ^ "Thunder of the East to take UB Stadium by storm". The Spectrum. October 6, 2006. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  14. ^ a b Thunder of the East performance at New York State Field Band Competition (video), YouTube, 2009, Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  15. ^ a b c University at Buffalo marching band (2011). "About us: Traditions." Buffalo, NY: University at Buffalo.
  16. ^ a b UB parents: UB spirit: UB Bulls spirit, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY: University at Buffalo, 2014, Retrieved March 14, 2014.

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