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Native Virginian William Pease To Lead U.Va.’s New Marching Band Email this article to a friend

August 20, 2003 -- The University of Virginia has selected William E. Pease, a Virginia Beach native and associate director of bands at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, as its new band director.

“This is a great moment for music at the University of Virginia,” said Craig Littlepage, director of athletics and search committee member. “Bill Pease will be a wonderful director of bands based on the work he has done at Western Michigan.”

William PeaseElizabeth Hudson, chairwoman of the McIntire Department of Music and head of the search committee, said Pease’s success at Western Michigan, coupled with his musical versatility, made him stand out from the more than 30 excellent applicants.

“Creating a band program from the ground up is both a huge task and a unique opportunity,” Hudson said. “His ability to work with a diversity of musical styles will give him a chance to create something new and innovative. The committee was unanimously impressed with what he can bring to U.Va.”

The University’s music program was altered dramatically in April when long-time benefactors Carl and Hunter Smith pledged $22 million toward a $47 million performing arts center and $1.5 million to support a student marching and concert band. Creating the band, which is a joint venture between the music and athletics departments, was immediately put on a fast track.

Pease has a Herculean task in front of him, but he won’t be doing it alone. He plans to build on a successful model of involving students in leadership roles in W.M.U.’s Bronco Marching Band. A staff of 60 students helps Pease run the 350-piece band, he said.

Long before he assumes his official duties Nov. 25, he will begin drumming up interest and excitement about the band on a 10-day visit to Charlottesville in September. At that time, Pease will start to recruit his student staff and band members. He hopes to have a band of 50 to100 students ready to perform at men’s and women’s basketball games in January. A band of about 200 members will debut at the opening of the 2004 football season.

Pease said his U.Va. student staff will be involved in all areas of decision making, including setting up band guidelines and procedures, designing uniforms, writing music, helping develop drills and generating ideas for shows.

Student leadership and a team effort will be key to accomplishing Pease’s vision of entertaining fans with a band that is musically sound and an integral part of the game-day atmosphere.
Plans include developing a pre-game tradition — an opening act that will help generate crowd enthusiasm and create a home-field advantage.

Half-time programs will change for each game and will include a variety of musical styles – classical, rock, swing, jazz and rap. With a diverse audience, made up of students, fans and alumni of all ages, the band will need to play music that fans recognize and enjoy, Pease said.

Another focus will be to bring guest artists, including renowned Virginia musical acts, to play with the band and to highlight faculty musicians, composers and ensembles.

Pease also considers community service a large part of the band’s responsibility. That won’t be an issue at U.Va., with its strong student ethic of giving back, he said.

Pease is not unaware of the controversy surrounding U.Va.’s Pep Band, which for years performed at athletic events. The new band will now serve as the official representative of the University at athletic events, but Pease hopes to work with the student-run Pep Band in an unofficial capacity. He said he was impressed with the student musicians when he met with them during his interview and would welcome them as members of the band.

“Anyone who puts that much time into what they do without pay cares a lot about the University,” he said.

Pease is eager to begin working with all U.Va. students, whom he considers among the highest academic achievers in the country.

“This means a lot to me. I’m a Virginian, and this is the state’s premier school. It can’t get better than this,” said Pease, who still sports Virginia plates on his car.

Pease’s strong ties to Virginia extend to his public school days in Virginia Beach, where he graduated from Princess Anne High School. He went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in music education in 1987 at West Chester University in West Chester, Pa. He returned to Virginia Beach, where he taught in public schools for nine years, which included leading the Kempsville High School Band to receive numerous honors in national and international competitions. In 1998, he received a master of music degree in wind conducting at James Madison University in Harrisonburg and became director of athletic bands at Western Michigan University. He anticipates receiving a doctorate from Michigan State University, East Lansing, in the near future.

Pease also is excited about the new $47 million performing arts center, which will serve as the home for the marching and concert band. Located at the corner of Massie Road and Emmet Street, the 100,000-square-foot facility will include space for a wide range of public and student performance spaces, a concert hall of at least 1,200 seats, a black box theater, rehearsal rooms, support offices and instrument storage facilities. The center will provide needed space for a range of performances, from soloists to large groups playing classical music and jazz.

Barton Myers Associates Inc. of Los Angeles, a leader in the design of performance space and acoustics, was selected from more than 39 competing architects to design the new space.

Contact: Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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