Jim Barquierno, Senior Vice President of Enrollment, Student Affairs and Athletics, started Sacred Heart University’s (SHU) band program in 1993. What started as a small program that only played at football games and a few basketball games, is now the largest it has ever been.
Each of the four bands and different ensembles have their own sound, structure and stage. The program is made up of Marching Band, Pep Band, Concert Band and the Orchestra. As for ensembles and special performance groups, the program features the Chamber Ensembles, Feature Twirlers, Percussion Ensemble, Winter Guard and Jazz Ensemble.
On football game days, the Marching Band performs at half time and a number of tunes throughout the entirety of the game. Their halftime show consists of the “White Lotus” theme song, “Hello” by Adele, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from “Encanto,” and lastly, “Good as Hell” by Lizzo.
“I would say a staple of the SHU Band is a song called ‘Hey Baby.’ This song has a vocal aspect where the band members sing the chorus to the song, in addition to playing it on our instruments. While they are screaming the lyrics, you can hear the band from a mile away. However, my
personal favorite song that we play is ‘Everytime We Touch,’’ said junior saxophone player Jeff Palma.
At the start of the game, the band plays on the Ampitheater steps near Pioneer Village.
“We also dance in marching band, which is uncommon for marching bands to do. It is so much fun, the crowd goes nuts. It is definitely out of people’s comfort zones,” said junior Flute Section Leader, Kate Fleissner.
The Pep Band also frequently performs at basketball and hockey games throughout the season. The Concert Band and the Orchestra are holding their next concerts in December. The band frequently finds themselves out of state, and sometimes even outside of the country.
“Typically in early January, the whole band, we travel somewhere. This coming January we are going to Ireland. So, we will be over there for 8 days.
We will be in Dingle for 3 days, Galway for 3 days, and then Dublin for 3 days. We will perform a series of concerts in various locations,” said Band Director Keith Johnston.
On trips like these, the players will also get the chance to experience the culture. In past years, the band has traveled to Disney World, Italy, Prague, Vienna and Haiti.
“It would be hard to pick a favorite performance for the whole band, but one of my favorites during my time here has been traveling to Disney Springs last year to perform on one of their stages,” said Palma.
In order to prepare for all these appearances, Fleissner said the band practices Monday and Thursday from 7:45 p.m. to 10 p.m., in all different locations on campus.
However, within the next nine months, the SHU Performing Arts Program is expected to have a brand new, state-of-the-art facility to practice, perform and store their equipment. According to the Sacred Heart website, “This new wing and the spaces it provides will change the way students learn about the arts and will foster skills and experience that graduates can carry into their professional careers.”
“I have been here at Sacred Heart for 21 years now and it is just amazing to watch the institution grow. It is amazing to watch the program develop and to be part of this very long connecting thread of alumni from many many years ago to alumni who don’t even know yet they are coming to Sacred Heart,” said Johnston.