The 150-member Marist College Band organization is surprising people, near and far, who believe that small colleges cannot establish and maintain great bands. The Marist Band has become the standard that other small college bands emulate.
The Marist band has been supporting the Red Foxes for more than a decade at various athletic events, mainly football and basketball games. The group has gained exposure over the past dozen years through multiple appearances at Walt Disney World, NCAA basketball tournaments, National Invitation Tournament games, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball tournaments, basketball games at Madison Square Garden, and the nationally televised Kick-Off Classic in Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands.
The band has traveled to support the women's basketball team at the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Tempe, Ariz., Palo Alto, Calif. and Baton Rouge, La. The band also accompanied the women's basketball team to the Sweet 16 in Dayton, Ohio on March 25, 2007. The Marist Band has played for the Red Foxes at several men's basketball tournaments throughout the years, including the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden, the Old Spice Classic at Walt Disney World in November of 2006 and the ESPNU O'Reilly Auto Parts Tip-off in San Juan, Puerto Rico in November of 2007.
The band made quite an impression on one sports writer at the Old Spice Classic. "The Marist Band was one of the highlights of the event, especially when they stayed and played during the championship game," wrote ESPN columnist Jeff Shelman. "This isn't a mid-major band-this is a major-major outfit."
Band Director - Art Himmelberger
Affectionately known as "Art," Arthur Himmelberger has been associated with music at Marist College since spring 1986.
Before coming to Marist, he taught music in public schools, published articles in several professional journals, and served for 23 years as an U.S. Army musician in Washington, D.C. and West Point, N.Y. At West Point he was a senior non-commissioned officer (Sergeant Major) of the West Point Band, percussionist, major musical events producer, Army football half-time show designer and member of the United States Military Academy's Bicentennial Task Force. Additionally, he designed half-time entertainment for several nationally televised NFL championship football games. He performed extensively throughout all 48 contiguous United States, Europe, and Japan.
A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Music, he received his M.Ed. degree and administrator's certificate from Temple University. He also completed the U.S. Army's Bandmaster and Administrator courses. He is a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, Tau Beta Sigma, MENC, NYSSMA, PMEA, ACB, CBDNA and the Windjammers.
As an adjunct lecturer at Marist, Art established the instrumental music program and assisted in the overall development and improvement of the entire music curriculum. He maintained his full-time role at West Point until 2002. In 2002 he retired from the Army and joined Marist full time as director of the Music Department. He now oversees all orchestral, choral, and academic offerings of the department, helped by band and choir alumnus Mike Napolitano, who is now manager of Music Department operations, a much-needed position created in 2005.
A 1983 story on the front page of the student newspaper the Circle describes a pep band that formed in 1982 and performed at men's home basketball games. But it was not chartered as an official student club and had no budget, and the College's sole instrument was a bass drum, according to the article.
Today's band dates to January 1986, when Marist asked Art, then a U.S. Army percussionist and member of the senior leadership team of the USMA Military Band at West Point, to prepare a band for the College's upcoming game against Fordham in Madison Square Garden. When he arrived at the Marist chapel for the first rehearsal, Art was stunned to find only two students inside. One of them, Paul Stento '90, was also shocked by the dismal turnout. But, he says, Art was "the consummate positive thinker and professional" who knew how to get things done. The three practiced, and two days later the bandleader drove them to the Garden, bringing along a drum kit. The modern-day Marist College Band was born.
Art augmented the small group with his West Point musician buddies, paying each with a hot dog, a soda, and $15 in travel money when they came to an event. The band became a welcome part of basketball games.
The band grew more popular as it gained exposure, and in 1994 the band's first president, trumpeter Michael Gordon '94, established the band as a club under the bylaws of the Student Government Association. That year it turned a corner when four first-year students took charge. Newly elected band officers Jennifer Trenary Malcarne '97, Judy Reid LaVoie '97, Anastasia Filak '97, and Jessica Cramer Richard '97 set about recruiting band members from among high school students already accepted by Marist. By the time the four women graduated, the band had grown to 50 people. That included members of a string orchestra, formed in 1997.
Seminoles for a Day
In 1998 the band, at 80 members, had an experience that made it even more attractive to students. Members were in band camp, held annually the week before fall classes start, when the president of the Florida State University Alumni Association called Art in a panic. FSU was facing Texas A&M in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. The Texas school had a 400-piece marching band ready to perform. The FSU Band wasn't ready, and the FSU Alumni Association wanted a band pronto.
The Marist Band rode to the rescue: Art again called on his friends from bands past, sending them sheet music. FSU paid for buses and food and donated several thousand dollars to the Marist Band fund. The musicians mustered in the Giants Stadium parking lot before the game for a two-hour rehearsal, their first and last. For that night, they were the FSU Band. The FSU Alumni Association awarded the band a plaque that now sits in the trophy case in Marist's Music Department.
For more information on the Marist College Band, please contact Art Himmelberger at Arthur.firstname.lastname@example.org.