Marching band goes international

Next year, the WSU marching band will march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland with the University of Washington, University of Oregon and Oregon State University.

These four colleges come together to create the Pacific Northwest Intercollegiate Marching Band.

All four schools hope to combine 40-60 students from each and total 200-300 that can march in the parade, said Troy Bennefield, director of athletic bands.

This is an optional, student-funded event that the athletic band department is excited to participate in, said Bennefield. That means that students who wish to join must raise all funds themselves.

There will be many fundraising opportunities available to the students who wish to participate. Although this is a university event, it is not university funded, said Bennefield. The athletic band department is also looking for grants to help those interested.

In years past, any opportunity to march in international parades conflicted with Bowl Games, but the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March fortunately does not, said Bennefield. This is first opportunity that has worked with the marching band’s schedule.

Last month the directors of the four schools started their research and booking for next year. From reserving hotels to airline tickets to performances and practice space there has been a great deal of work already invested into the trip, said Bennefield.

Most of the music performed has yet to be decided, but other international bands usually play something representative of their region and something Irish or Irish influenced, said Bennefield. He thinks that they will do something similar.

“Both states claim ‘Louie Louie’ so that might be something we’ll play,” said Bennefield.

Before marching in the parade all four schools will have one chance to rehearse together, said Bennefield. Most of the work will be placed in the individual musician to know the music.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the largest performance in the trip, but the students will also perform at Kilkenny Castle, spend the night in Belfast, visit the Titanic Museum and visit Northern Ireland.

Traveling internationally can be frightening, but Ireland is more approachable to many other places, said Bennefield. The students won’t have to worry about a language barrier and Ireland is relatively safe and free of border disputes.

The marching band students who can participate in this event will experience a once in a lifetime event, Bennefield said. There will be a lot of work invested to raise funds and learn the music, but it will be worth it.

“We want the WSU band to be recognized nationally and internationally.” Bennefield said. “Marching in the parade is one way we can do that.”