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PSU Blue Band

  • SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS/COURTESY JIM LAWRENCE  The 310-member Blue Band is known nationally and is now in its 111th year.
    SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS/COURTESY JIM LAWRENCE The 310-member Blue Band is known nationally and is now in its 111th year.
Published November 26. 2010 05:00PM

The PSU Marching Blue Band numbers 310 members, including 260 instrumentalists, 34 silks, 14 Touch of Blue (majorettes), a feature twirler, and a drum major. Members come from virtually all curricula and colleges represented at the University Park campus of the Pennsylvania State University.

The Penn State Blue Band traces its history to the 1899 formation of a six-member drum and bugle corps initiated by student George H. Deike. A donation from Penn State College Board of Trustees member Andrew Carnegie made possible the formation of a brass band in the summer of 1901. By 1913, the organization was known as the College Band and the first permanent director of bands, Wilfred O. "Tommy" Thompson, was appointed in 1914.

In 1923, a few new blue uniforms were purchased towards replacement of the brown military style uniforms in use. Blue uniforms were issued on the basis of ability and rank. Photos from 1924 show a select group of blue-uniformed members in a block "S" formation surrounded by a large number of brown uniformed band members. This select group became known as the "Blue Band" and represented Penn State as its official traveling band.

During succeeding eras in which Hummel Fishburn (1939-1947), James W. Dunlop (1947-1975), and Ned C. Deihl (1975-1996) served as directors, the name Penn State Blue Band was kept even though all members were uniformed in blue. The current Director of the Marching Blue Band is Dr. O. Richard Bundy.

In 2004, the Blue Band moved into a new permanent home, the first ever for the organization. The Blue Band Building is located on Services Road near the intersection with the University Drive Extension in the northeast area of the University Park campus.

In 2005, the Blue Band was awarded the prestigious Sudler Trophy, a national recognition administered by the John Philip Sousa Foundation.

The Blue Band became the first college marching band to perform at a major fashion show when 100 students marched down the catwalk of the 2005 Marc Jacobs event during Fashion Week in New York City, October 2005. Members of the Blue Band appeared in photo spreads published in Vogue and W magazines during Fall 2005, including a photo by world-renowned artist Annie Leibovitz.

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