Marching Band for Graduates: The UConn Herald Trumpeters Return

If you did the work, you got the degree, but graduating without the pump just doesn’t feel like the circumstance. Thankfully, the pageantry and fanfare of University of Connecticut graduation ceremonies are back after a two-year hiatus, thanks to the UConn Herald Trumpeters.

Trumpeters don’t just bring the fanfare; they play it.

“The marching band is a very explosive announcement of what’s going on,” says associate director of sports groups and acting wind ensemble director Ricardo Brown, who teaches trumpeters at the UConn Herald with trumpet teacher Louis Hanzlik.

Trumpeters play at nearly every UConn graduation ceremony, standing with flagged trumpets to announce the graduates’ entry. They play three distinct marching bands. Each announces a different group: professors, students and presiding dignitaries each receive their own upon entering the room.

The UConn Herald Trumpeters are always made up of students from the Music Performance and Music Education programs. The group has three soprano trumpets (this is the typical voice of the instrument) played this year by Michael Reed, Nathan Suarez and Rebecca Setzler; two baritone trumpets played by Anthony Alatsas and John Blackstone Gardner; and a snare drum, played by Charles Marenghi.

Performing at an event as important as graduation makes the Herald Trumpeters one of the most visible and audible parts of the music department. They can show the excellence of UConn music. There is no driver with them. The snare drum gives the signal and the trumpeters play the fanfare. They nail it every time.

The band played marching bands at University graduation ceremonies for decades, right up to the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. Skipping two years might not seem like a lot, but it’s a long time in the life of an undergraduate student. None of the current players were in the squad before the pandemic, and those two years might have been enough to break the tradition.

“It is a responsibility to continue to exist. All of these groups could easily have not returned. Some didn’t,” at other schools, Brown says. But each of these students rose to fill the blue robes of the Herald Trumpeters who came before them. “And we are incredibly grateful.”

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