This time of year, Farrand Field is the scene of 8-to-5s, pinwheels and the high step. The Golden Buffalo Marching Band is back for its 107th season.
It’s a hectic few weeks—along with 113 veterans, 97 new members are taking their first steps onto the field September 12—but Director Matthew Roeder says he wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“The opening of the semester and football season is a very exciting time of year,” he says. “Everyone is showing their school spirit and sharing in our traditions.”
With fresh faces in almost every squad, band camp and the early days of the semester are filled with fundamentals—learning pre-game, mastering the fight song, memorizing stand music—but Roeder says once the band gets into the heart of the season, things really start cooking on the field.
“We’re doing three different halftime shows this season. The ‘Evolution of Funk’ will feature music by Blood, Sweat and Tears and Bruno Mars.
“Then, during Homecoming and Family Weekend, we’ll bring everyone ‘back to Boulder’ in a sense. The ‘Colorado Throwback’ show will include John Denver’s ‘Rocky Mountain High’ and a song by Colorado’s own One Republic.
“Finally we’ll perform a few of Earth, Wind and Fire’s most popular songs. A member of the group, Phil Bailey, is a CU graduate.”
Leading the band this year are three veteran drum majors, Floyd Pierce, Eric Badovinatz and Evan Fernández. In his third year in the field director’s uniform, Fernández says even now, the idea of putting on a show in front of thousands can be intimidating. “You walk into the stadium and there’s all these people and you’re thinking, ‘Holy cow!’ But then the nerves settle down and you just remember that we’re there to support the Buffs, no matter what.”
Like most band members (85 percent this season), Fernández is a non-music major. But he says his time spent with his band mates has enriched his history and Spanish studies. “As a history major, it’s neat for me to know that our band has been playing for more than 100 years. So we have just as storied of a history as any other band in the country,” he says.
Also a non-major and veteran band member, clarinet section leader Natalie Robertson says band practice is her release—a time to replenish among others like her to whom music is important. “It’s a time when I take a break from chemistry class and biology class, and I come here and do what I love.”
Indeed, Fernández says a deep love of music is what unites the diverse members of the Golden Buffalo Marching Band. “We have so many people from all around the world, all around the country, different majors, different backgrounds—coming together, united by music,” he says.
“The marching band is truly representative of the entire CU-Boulder student body,” says Roeder. “Non-music majors help make the group well-rounded. But our music majors are also crucial to our success. Their expertise on their instruments and their love for music bring the performance and spirit of the band to a high level.”
This year, as every year, the band will keep its four-word mantra close at hand. Tradition, heartbeat, spirit and pride. For biochemistry major Robertson, the spirit and pride are palpable. “The best part of the Golden Buffalo Marching Band is the school spirit. Anytime, anywhere, if someone starts clapping we sing the fight song.
“In high school, band’s really more about pride in the band. Here, it’s about pride in CU,” she says.
Fernández, meanwhile, has one big goal for his final year at the helm. “Win or lose, rain or shine, we’re there … we’re the heartbeat of the stadium.”
Don’t miss the Golden Buffalo Marching Band’s first performance at the Pearl Street Stampede, Friday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m., and every Buffs home game at Folsom Field.