A History of the Louisiana State University Bands in the Era of Frank B.

By Juli M. Rainwater

There have been three records of the history of the LSU School of Music. The first, by Dr. Charlie Roberts, documented the history of the entire School of Music from its 1893 roots until 1968.1 Next, Dr. Brenda Walker chronicled the history of the School during the tenure of Dr. Everett L. Timm, 1955-1979.2 In 1984, with the assistance of Professor Frank Wickes, senior music education major, Patricia Wafer compiled a series of notebooks containing primary documents related to the LSU bands from 1959 when Assistant Professor Thomas Tyra became the director of bands until 1984, Wafer’s last year at LSU.3 The purpose of this paper is to highlight the development of the LSU Bands since 1980, coinciding with the arrival of Professor Wickes. This will be accomplished through the historical method of research in a two-fold process: 1) Interviews with faculty, staff, alumni, and current students, and 2) examination of concert programs, historical videotapes, and dissertations. In addition, news reports from local, state, and national publications will be used. The paper will cover departmental organization, including administrative changes and their effects on the department and the development of the various organizations within the band department. In March of 1980, Director of Bands, Nickolas Rouse, resigned his appointment at Louisiana State University for health reasons. In the following months, a search ensued for his


Charlie Walton Roberts, “The History of the Louisiana State University School of Music,” Ph.D. diss., Louisiana State University, 1968.

Brenda Gale Williams, “A History of the Louisiana State University School of Music (1955-1979),” Ph.D. diss., Louisiana State University, 1983.

Patricia Wafer, “History of the LSU Bands, 1959-1984,” unpublished manuscript, 1984.


replacement, the result of which has greatly impacted the reputation of the School of Music and specifically the Department of Bands as a national leader. On March 24, 1980, Frank B. Wickes, Director of Bands at the University of Florida in Gainesville, submitted his application. Dr. Robert F. Shambaugh, Acting Dean of the School of music, offered him the position on May 23, 1980. Mr. Wickes assumed the post on July 1 the same year.4 In addition to the Director of Bands, the School of Music recognized the need for an Associate Director who would oversee the Jazz Band, assist with the marching, basketball and concert bands, teach marching band techniques, and act as the advisor for Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma band service fraternities. J. Russell Laib was selected for this position. Mr. Laib served until 1983. The next assistant director was David Morris, who held the position from 1983-1985. Linda Ruth Moorhouse, a graduate assistant from 1984-85, assumed the position in August 1985 until the present. In 1999, she was promoted to Associate Director of Bands. Moorhouse took two sabbaticals to work on a D.M.A., one from 1993-95, when she was temporarily replaced by John LaCognata, and the other in the 1998-99 school year, when Roy King served on an interim basis. Upon her return, King, who had been an undergraduate in Wickes’ second year and then a graduate assistant from 1996-98, was appointed Assistant Director of Bands. These three, Wickes, Moorhouse, and King, are the current faculty members. In addition to the band faculty, there is also a full-time band instrument repair technician, Roger Wattam, who was hired in 1979. John E. Edmonds, a member of the LSU composition faculty, also served as the band arranger until the Spring of 1986. There have been six Band Secretaries during Wickes’ tenure: Kathleen Keppel (1980-82), Jane Riedlinger (1982-84),


Frank B. Wickes, “History of the LSU Bands, 1959-1984” vol. VIII, pp. 5-10.


Rhonda Waguespack (1985-89), Judy Fernandez (1989-94), Stacci Tobin (1995-2002) and Linda Saucier, (2003 ––).

The Golden Band from Tigerland There have been many changes in the marching band since 1980. In the Fall of 1980, there were 240 members in the band, including auxiliary members. This number steadily increased to the 300-member milestone in 1996. The 2002 band had 325 members, which is now the cut-off. According to Assistant Director Roy King, “We no longer have the open admission policies of the 80’s. There has been a steady rise in the admission standards, especially with the current Chancellor.”5 This has resulted in a new phenomenon – personnel cuts are being made in the band during pre-season. While the cuts are usually in the woodwind sections, many returning members were cut the first year due to the higher standards. While some returning members are still cut, it is the freshmen now that have the hardest time making the band. During preseason, it is common to find prospective members on the practice field practicing during dinner breaks.6 Personnel cuts were made once before, in 1983, because there were not enough uniforms to fit the 295 prospective members. There were only 270 uniforms in good repair.7 From 1983 until 2002, the marching band would perform annually at a New Orleans Saints game. Over the last few years, the NFL made changes to its pre-game and half-time

5 6 7

Roy King, Interview by author, June 30, 2003. Ibid. “Band makes cuts, cites too few uniforms,” The Daily Reveille, September 7, 1983, p. 8.


formats, allowing the band less time to perform their pre-game and halftime show. At the same time, the only practice time in the Superdome available to the Tiger Band was early Sunday morning at 8:30 am. This was after a late LSU football game the previous night. The Superdome officials were also requiring the band to perform with a giant motorized helmet on the field. In addition, the directors felt that the students needed Sundays open to study due to higher academic requirements for the retention of scholarships. This, combined with a shift to a twelve-game regular football season, resulted in the decision to discontinue the annual trip to New Orleans.8 At the request of Moorhouse, current Chancellor, Mark Emmert conducted an informal polling of the band to determine the number of merit scholars, valedictorians, salutorians, and students with 4.0 grade point averages. The results showed that the band students are on the higher end of students attending LSU. At least ten members had a perfect 4.0 g.p.a., 2 students in recent years have been president of the Honors College, and two recent graduates received the University Medal of Honor, awarded to the top graduates each year. Forty of the 2002 members had been valedictorians or salutorians at their respective high schools and twenty-twenty five were National Merit Scholars. Far above the university average, approximately 12% of the band falls into the above categories. The University has been very protective of the students’ study time. Governor David Treen’s office contacted Mr. Wickes in 1980 asking that the band perform at a political rally for then Presidential Candidate Ronald Reagan. Because this was to take place during class time,


Frank B. Wickes, Interview with author, July1, 2002.


Mr. Wickes had to decline the offer. Instead, the Southern University Band traveled to the LSU campus and played.9 In 1984, the band made its second performance at an inaugural parade. This parade for Governor Edwin Edwards was preceded by the second and final appearance of the band in a Mardi Gras parade. There have been many out-of-state performances of the Golden Band from Tigerland. In 1983, the band performed in the Orange Bowl. The band made a stopover at Disneyland on the way home, where they paraded through the Magic Kingdom. The band has also performed in the Liberty Bowl in 1985, the Gator Bowl in 1987, the Hall of Fame Bowl in 1989, the Independence Bowl in 1995 and 1997, the Peach Bowl in 1996 the Sugar Bowl in 2002, and the Cotton Bowl in 2003. In 1987, Everybody’s All-American, starring Dennis Quaid and Jessica Lange, was filmed on the LSU campus. The Golden Band from Tigerland was asked to perform in the movie. Moorhouse recalls the first night of filming because it was one of the rare times snow has fallen on Baton Rouge. Filming had to be cancelled. During the filming of the football game, the band members were required to wear a black patch over the “s” on their uniforms. Thus, the school in the movie became “Louisiana University.” In order to film the scenes with the old-style football uniforms during half-time, the Ole-Miss band was “paid not to play.” Moorhouse’s favorite part of the filming was the scene where the band marched down the steps of the Louisiana State Capital. To use the LSU school songs in the movie, Warner Brothers bought the rights to all of them. Now, whenever one of the songs is performed, Warner Brothers gets paid.10
9 10

“Wickes Declined Invitation to Rally,” The Daily Reveille, September 24, 1980. Linda R. Moorhouse, interview with author, July 1, 2003.


In a poll of Southeastern Conference band directors conducted by the Northwest Arkansas Times, LSU was the unanimous pick as the top band in the SEC. Of the twelve band directors polled, two abstained, one because he was new to the conference. Directors were not allowed to vote for their own band. There was a three-way tie for second place between Arkansas, Auburn, and Georgia.11 The Tiger Band has twice been named the outstanding marching band in the country. The first instance was in 1970, under the direction of Dr. William F. Swor. In a national contest of college bands, which appeared on T.V. that year, sponsored by the Chevrolet Division of General Motors, the LSU Tiger Band was selected as the “All-American College T.V. Band” In December 2001, the John Philip Sousa Foundation selected the LSU Tiger Band as a band of “particular excellence over a period of years.” This resulted in the awarding to LSU of the Sousa Foundation’s coveted Sudler Trophy. The Sudler award has been referred to as the “Heisman Trophy” for college bands, and is recognized as the highest award a college marching band can receive. On September 14, 2002, the trophy was officially presented to the band in conjunction with the annual LSU band alumni game. The Tiger Band is only the second band in the Southeastern Conference to receive the award, previously given to the University of Georgia. The University of Alabama will be receiving it this year.12

Tigerama Concerts


Maylon T. Rice, “SEC Band Directors rate Marching Razorbacks high,” Northwest Arkansas Times, October 17, 1997.

The Baton Rouge Advocate, Sept.6, 2002


In 1981, the first annual Tigerama Band Concert was held. This performance, held in the LSU Union Theatre, featured performances by the LSU Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, and the Tiger Marching Band. The popular concert has continued through 2002, although the Jazz Band no longer performs in the event. Due to the increased demand and unavailability of tickets, in 2001, it has been expanded to two nights.

LSU Wind Ensemble Prior to 1980, the only concert organization was the Symphonic Band, which met only in the spring of each year. In 1975, a group of students approached Director Bill Swor about a year-round concert group. This resulted in an informal performing group that met in the evenings in the Fall, once a week. The group only lasted until 1977. In 1980, the School of Music faculty discussed aligning the LSU School of Music with the philosophies of prominent music schools, catering more to music majors. Wickes shared in this philosophy and in his first year, moved the marching band rehearsals from noon to late in the afternoons. During the time slot vacated by the marching band, Wickes inserted the LSU Wind Ensemble a new select group of the LSU Band program. During the Wickes years, the organization has received national recognition as a highlyrespected performing ensemble and has been selected to appear at numerous state, regional and national conventions. These include Louisiana Music Educators Association (LMEA), National Band Association (NBA), American Bandmasters Association (ABA), College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), and the Music Educators National Conference (MENC).


The first performance of the Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Frank Wickes, was a concert held in the LSU Union Theatre on November 13, 1980. On the program were works by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Del Borgo, R. Strauss, Grainger, and Ives.13 In the spring of 1981, the Jazz Band traveled with the Wind Ensemble as the two made a “Tour of Louisiana.” The tour included stops in five Louisiana cities and featured James West, LSU Professor of Trumpet, in Alexander Arutunian-Duker’s Concerto for Trumpet. Plans were made for a second tour after the Wind Ensemble was invited to perform at the CBDNA Southern Division Convention in Nashville, Tennessee on January 22, 1982. The band made a stop at Decatur High School in Decatur, Alabama for a rehearsal and concert. There were consistent performances of the Wind Ensemble in the LSU Union Theatre each fall and spring. They also performed every year during the early 80s at the LSU Festival of Contemporary Music. In 1983, the Wind Ensemble was a feature band at the CBDNA National Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia. This concert contained Richard Strauss’, Suite in B Flat for 13 Wind Instruments, Op. 4; Igor Stravinsky’s, Symphonie of Wind Instruments; Percy Grainger’s, Colonial Song; and Sinfonietta composed by Ingolf Dahl.14 On January 21-23, 1988, Wickes presided at a rare joint conference of the Southern Division of CBDNA and NBA, held in New Orleans. He was at this time, the President of the Southern Division of CBDNA. In addition to his role, LSU music education professor Cornelia Yarborough presided over a clinic entitled, “Special Topics in Band Research.” Assistant Director Moorhouse was serving at the same time as the Louisiana State Chair of the NBA. She
13 14

Patricia Wafer, “History of the LSU Bands,” vol. VIII, 1984. CBDNA National Convention, concert program, Atlanta, GA, 1983.


presided over the concert performance of the Lafayette (Louisiana) High School Symphonic Band under the direction of Patrick Finkbeiner.15 The Ruby Diamond Auditorium at Florida State University was the setting of the next major concert performance for the LSU Wind Ensemble. Under the name, “LSU Wind Symphony,” the ensemble participated in the 55th National Convention of the American Bandmasters Association on March 1, 1989. Along with Wickes and Moorhouse, guest conductors included Peter Dombourian, Edward J. Downing, Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert Mitchell, U.S. Army (ret.), and John L. Whitwell. The “Wind Symphony” performed four years later for the 59th National ABA Convention held in New Orleans. On March 3, 1993, the band was under the direction of Wickes, Moorhouse, Dr. John R. Locke, Dr. William Revelli, Dr. Julian E. White, Dr. Harry Begian, and Larry Gookin. The Symphonic Band also performed an outdoor concert for the participants as they were getting onboard a steamboat for a tour of the city. Biloxi, Mississippi’s Broadwater Beach Resort was the venue of the 1996 Southern Division Convention of the CBDNA. The LSU Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Wickes and Moorhouse, performed John Harbison’s Music for 18 Winds, Nicholas Maw’s American Games, and David Maslanka’s Symphony No. 4. The program for this concert contains an interesting “where are they now” list of former LSU Wind Ensemble Members from 1980-1996.

At a meeting with then Chancellor William “Bud” Davis in the early 90’s, Mr. Wickes and Chancellor Davis discussed the upcoming 100th anniversary of the LSU Bands in 1993. The
15 16

CBDNA/NBA Southern Division Conference, program, New Orleans, LA, 1988. College Band Directors National Association Southern Division Convention, Concert Program, Biloxi, MS, 1996.


meeting resulted in three goals: 1) the commissioning of the LSU Rhapsody featuring the schools songs of LSU, 2) the annual Tigerama concert going statewide on tour, and 3) a performance at a major East Coast venue by the Wind Ensemble.17 Among the most famous alumni of the LSU band programs is noted composer and conductor William “Bill” Conti, Director/Conductor of the Academy Awards Orchestra. His most famous works are, “Eye of the Tiger” and “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky and also “For Your Eyes Only.” In 1983, Conti was named to the LSU Hall of Distinction.18 Professor Wickes requested $7500 to hire Bill Conti to compose the LSU Rhapsody. Mr. Conti was already committed to numerous projects, so he had to decline. However, he introduced Mr. Wickes to two composers who worked for Disney, Bruce Healey and Ken Whitcomb. Bruce Healey was the composer of the music for “Karate Kid II” and has composed for the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards programs. Ken Whitcomb was the principal arranger for the West Point Army Band before going to Disney. The LSU Rhapsody is a special musical tribute to LSU that intertwines “six of LSU’s most famous songs into one work of rich harmonies and spirited melodies.”19 The six songs, in order, are Touchdown for LSU; Darling of LSU; Hey, Fightin’ Tigers; LSU Alma Mater; Fight for LSU; and Tiger Rag. The third goal of the meeting between Chancellor Davis, a performance at a major East Coast venue, was satisfied when the Wind Ensemble performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. on February 9, 1994. According to the February Stagebill, the concert was

17 18 19

Frank B. Wickes, Interview with author, June 30, 2003. The Daily Reveille, October 4, 1983, p.3. Kennedy Center Program, p. 20.


given “celebrating the Golden Centennial of the LSU Bands and honoring the Louisiana Congressional Delegation.” Works by Sousa, J. S. Bach, Pryor, Grainger, and Colgrass were performed. The highlight of the evening was the LSU Rhapsody. Staff Sergeant Harry Watters was the featured trombone soloist. Watters is a member of the Army Ceremonial Band in Washington, D.C. and was concurrently pursuing a D.M.A at LSU. The most recent major performance of the LSU Wind Ensemble was for the CBDNA 1999 Biennial National Conference. This concert was held at the University of Texas at Austin on February 27, 1999. In addition to works by Nicholas Maw, Percy Grainger, and Michael Daugherty, there were two world premiers. The concert began with University of Texas composition professor David Grantham’s Southern Harmony. This was followed by LSU composition professor Stephen David Beck’s The Wild Rumpus.20 Frederick Fennell was the featured guest conductor in an October 28, 1999 concert of the LSU Wind Ensemble at the Union Theatre. During this concert, the ensemble played works by Creston, J.S. Bach, Jacob, Sullivan, Bernstein, Chance, Walton, Javaloyes, Sousa, and K. King. In keeping with the tradition of Fennell, there were two intermissions.21

Symphonic Bands In the spring of 1981, a second concert ensemble was initiated and took the name, “Symphonic Band.” This ensemble meets two days a week each spring during the marching band time slot. In 1991, due to increased enrollment, a second wind ensemble was begun. This band, known as the Symphonic Winds, became a regular class in the spring of 1993. The
20 21

College Band Director’s National Association 1999 Biennial Conference, concert program, Austin, TX, 1999. Louisiana State University, LSU Wind Ensemble concert program, Baton Rouge, LA, 1999.


Symphonic Winds, under the direction of Professor Moorhouse, has rapidly risen to a high caliber ensemble. In 2002, they went on a successful tour of Florida, a rare occurrence for a university second ensemble.

Starlight Band When Wickes arrived in 1980, there was a summer band program offered for credit called “The Starlight Band.” The summer 1980 ensemble had nineteen members and performed in the Greek Outdoor Theatre adjacent to the band building. Of the three concerts presented that summer, Wickes made his LSU debut in the third. After only examining the difference in printed programs, it becomes obvious a new era was about to begin. The July 29, 1980 concert featured LSU faculty member Larry Campbell as euphonium soloist. The Starlight Band enrollment increased to twenty-four members the following year. However, due to a decrease in summer school enrollment, the 1981 summer band was the last.

Jazz Band Since its inception, the Jazz Band had been part of the band program. Either the Assistant directory or a graduate assistant was in charge of the group. In the mid-80s, the jazz program transferred out of the LSU Bands umbrella to the School of Music. At this time, Dr. William F. Grimes, was hired as Director of Jazz Studies.

Bengal Brass Basketball Band


Dr. Charlie Roberts, author of one of the dissertations chronicling the history of the LSU School of Music, was the volunteer director of the LSU Basketball Band when Professor Wickes arrived in 1980. This band was composed of both current students and alumni. At the time, the band was appropriately known as “The Court Jesters.” The informal ensemble is reputed to have played Three Blind Mice when the referees made calls against LSU. Accordingly, the athletic director asked Wickes to assume control of the group. Wickes did so and changed the name. When Assistant Director Moorhouse was hired, one of her responsibilities was the direction of the Basketball Band. She immediately changed the instrumentation to only brass and percussion in order to add “power” to the ensemble and she changed the name to Bengal Brass.22 The athletic department financially supports the Bengal Brass, providing transportation, meals, housing, and uniforms while they are traveling with the basketball teams. In 1994 and 1995, Reebok was the official sponsor of the LSU Basketball team. As a perk, the members of the Bengal Brass were all given athletic shoes, which were affectionately known as “Freeboks.” The NCAA only allows 30 people to travel with the band, so participation is limited and by audition only. The band travels to many of the games for both the men’s and women’s teams, including all post-season tournaments. There have been instances where two bands were needed at a time due to post-season success of both basketball teams. Therefore, the enrollment in the band is limited to 60 members.

Summer Music Camps


Linda R. Moorhouse, interview with author, July 1, 2003.


The first annual LSU Summer Music Camp was held July 5-10, 1981. This comprehensive camp for high school students and directors offered instruction in concert band, orchestra, chorus, conducting, drill design, marching percussion, dance, drum major, flags, rifles, and batons. A concert was held the final afternoon of the event. This format continued through 1985. In 1986, Wickes and Moorhouse decided to specialize in fewer areas and offer separate camps. The LSU Honors Chamber Winds Camp, which has continued through 2003, requires participants to audition via cassette tape or CD. The membership is limited to three woodwind quintets, a clarinet choir, a saxophone quartet, three brass quintets, a low brass ensemble, a percussion ensemble, and a flute quartet. The emphasis is on small ensemble work, but when the personnel are assembled together, they form a Camp Wind Ensemble. As in the previous format, the groups then perform a concert the last day of the camp. Participants in the LSU Honors Chamber Winds Camp come from all over the United States. Moorhouse said this is a very powerful recruiting tool, as 98 percent of the participants have a background in honor band participation, such as membership in all-state bands in their respective states. At the end of the week, a few select students are offered music scholarships to LSU. In addition to the LSU Honors Chamber Winds Camp, the Golden Girls Dance Camp was started in 1986. This camp was held every summer until 1992. The LSU Tigerland Auxiliary and Leadership Camp for flags, rifles, and drum majors, evolved from the Summer Music Camps of the 80s. They are now one of the largest programs in the South.23


Linda R. Moorhouse, Interview with author, July 1, 2003.


Conclusions 1980 was a major landmark in the history of the LSU Band Program. The addition of Frank Wickes to the LSU faculty aligned the philosophies of the School of Music to the band program. Prior to Wickes’ arrival, concert performances were secondary to the marching band in the fall semester. Wickes reigned in the various performing groups and raised each to the highest standards. He is quick to give credit to his staff, especially for the awarding of the Sudler Trophy. After nearly twenty-five years at LSU, the current leadership has elevated the entire band program to become one of the finest in the nation. In 2002, the department enrolled the first D.M.A. student in Wind Conducting, Monty Musgrave. “Mr. Wickes is an incredible pedagogue, outstanding conductor, and sets incredibly high expectations for his band and students,” said Musgrave. “He has a vision of what instrumental musicians can and should be. His methods are tried and true. He has a great sense of history. While he understands the importance of the entertainment aspect of the marching band, he has a vision of making the concert bands artistic mediums. He is the [darn] best teacher I have ever seen in my life.”24 What makes the phenomenon of LSU’s emergence as a band powerhouse so noteworthy is the lack of funds for publicity. “That’s why colleagues call us the best kept secret in the country.”25

24 25

Monty Musgrave, Interview with author, July 1, 2003. Linda R. Moorhouse, interview with author, July 1, 2003.


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