A New England college band is in its final rehearsals for a major performance at Friday’s Inauguration Day celebrations in Washington, D.C.
The Norwich University Regimental Band, from Northfield, Vermont, was selected to take part in the inaugural parade.
“We’ve worked very hard,” said saxophonist Katie Maloney of Holden, Massachusetts, a Norwich junior. “It’s a lot of fun. I like to play the marches. It has a nice beat, a nice tempo—it’s a really good time.”
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The military school’s band, which was formed in 1820, has been in the national spotlight before.
The group performed for President Obama in 2013 in that year’s inaugural parade. And before that, the Norwich Cadets marched at inaugurals celebrating Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, and both Bushes.
In 1985, the band was invited to perform for President Reagan, the school said, but the parade ended up being canceled because of dangerously cold temperatures.
“We’ve heard stories from upperclassmen about how cool it is to go down, so we’re excited to kind of have our chance at it,” said Norwich junior Nick Anderson, a percussionist from Merrimack, New Hampshire.
Lt. Col. Todd Edwards, the conductor of the Norwich University Regimental Band, said the school applied for a slot in the spectacle long before Election Day.
Edwards called the parade appearance a proud moment for the school, whether the commander in chief is a Democrat or Republican.
“It’s a great honor for us,” Edwards told NBC Boston. “We want to march and we want to perform for the president of the United States whoever they might be.”
“It’s purely nonpolitical at this point,” added James Wagner, a Norwich sophomore who plays trumpet in the band. “This is an extremely proud moment for the band. I think it’s really going to be a good time going to Washington D.C. representing Vermont and representing our school.”
The students will share a piece of New England with the audience in D.C. They will perform the soaring “National Emblem March” when passing in front of the reviewing stage, Edwards said.
That song was written in 1906 by E.E. Bagley, who was born in Craftsbury, Vermont.
Joseph Dami, a euphonium player in the band, said some of the musicians have a few jitters about the big trip, but the senior predicted they will rise above those nerves to deliver a strong performance.
“I’m a little nervous,” the native of Whitefield, New Hampshire admitted. “I think that’s to be expected, though. I think it keeps me on my game!”