Blasts from the past

Published: September 2007

The Boston College bands program—with its five instrumental ensembles, dance teams, full-time director, two assistant directors, vocal coach, instructional program, and scholarships—is a thriving institution whose more than 250 participating students contribute to campus cultural life at athletic events and in dozens of performances throughout the year. It wasn’t always this way. Only the marching and pep bands have had “consistent presence” since the turn of the 20th century, according to the Sebastian Bonaituto, the University’s current (and first) full-time director of bands, who was hired in 1989. His predecessor, Peter Siragusa, was a music teacher in the Boston Public Schools who devoted nights and weekends to University band rehearsals, preparing the ensemble for its appearances at athletic and ROTC events.

Despite the program’s lower level of institutional support, the University’s bands of yore played with verve and precision, as evidenced by a 1968 performance preserved on The Boston College Eagles Band and the Eagles of Sound Dance Band, an LP record by the Fleetwood Recording Company of Revere. @BC presents three selections of the band performing staples from its athletic event repertoire: “Burst of Trumpets,” “Medley of Boston College Fight Songs” (including an introduction based on the Alma Mater, “Sons of Maroon and Gold,” “All Up for Boston,” “Sweep Down the Field,” and “For Boston”), and “This Is My Country.”

The 1960s record also features a dance band under the leadership of John Trapani ’68. He remembers organizing the group, getting Siragusa’s permission to rehearse, and the first paying gig ($60) at ROTC’s 1964 spring “Military Ball.” Trapani recruited extra talent from the Berklee College of Music, including an alto sax player named Richie Cole (who went on to play with Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, and Doc Severinsen, and became a leading light on the American jazz scene), and, calling itself the “Eagles of Sound Dance Band,” the group performed at the Quinnipiac and MIT jazz festivals and at many campus functions.

@BC presents the Eagles of Sound from the Fleetwood LP, which highlights the budding genius of Richie Cole on the alto sax and the trumpet of John Trapani, who today leads the John Trapani Big Band—that is, when he’s not at his day job as a professor of philosophy at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio.

From the 1968 record of the Boston College Marching Band:

From the 1968 record of the Eagles of Sound Dance Band:



But wait, there’s more! For your listening and dancing pleasure this football season, we present the most recent recording of the Boston College Marching Band, under the direction of David Healey, performing “Build Me Up Buttercup,” which is included in the just-released CD, Game Day.

This feature was posted on Friday, September 21, 2007 and is filed under Audio.
Writer: Daniel Soyer, Producer: Miles Benson