Shoes shuffled in the dark; Taylor Gilbert didn’t quite know what to expect.
He knew only that the LSU Tiger Band was on stage next, and he wanted to be a part of it some day.
That day would arrive, because here he now stood, trumpet in hand, standing outside the new Tiger Band Hall, sharing section leader duties with fellow trumpeter Robert Wallace.
But things were different that night that now seems so long ago. Gilbert was a student at St. Amant High School, and he was attending one of the band’s annual Tigerama concerts.
That’s when the spotlight is pointed at the band during football season. The band will stage this year’s Tigerama on Tuesday, Oct. 23, in Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The VIP reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the concert at 7 p.m.
Fans will get an up-close look at the Golden Band from Tigerland, along with the Golden Girls and Colorguard, as well as the LSU Cheerleaders. And opening the program are the LSU Wind Ensemble and LSU Symphonic Winds.
And it was near the end of the combined Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Winds performance when the room went dark and Gilbert heard the shuffling of shoes.
“I remember the lights came on, and there was the Tiger Band standing everywhere,” he said.
Well, the brass players minus the tubas.
“And they started playing ‘God of Our Fathers’ with the concert groups,” Gilbert said.
“It’s really amazing to hear ‘God of Our Fathers’ with the Tiger Band brass standing 360 degrees around you,” Wallace added. “It’s my favorite part of Tigerama.”
“Mine, too,” Gilbert agreed.
Gilbert is a junior majoring in music education. This is his third year to be a Tiger Band member. Wallace is a senior majoring in biochemistry. This is his fourth year in the band.
And this is the first year both have taken a hand in making Tigerama work.
This year, all proceeds from the concert will benefit the band, so director Roy King thought it would be appropriate for band members to have responsibility for promoting the event.
“He thought more people would be open to buying tables if band members were selling them,” Wallace said.
So, leaders of the band’s different instrumental sections were given a challenge. They were to rally their troops to sell tables for the event.
“The section selling the most will get a prize, which is the chance to mingle with the VIP crowd before the concert,” Collin Barry said.
He’s the band’s drum major, a senior music education major from Austin, Texas.
“They’ll get to hang out, eat the food and meet everyone,” Barry said.
And in the end, Tigerama has become something different — something more. It’s theirs.
“We think of it differently,” Devin Chamberlin said.
She’s leader of the mellophone section and a third-year member of the band. She’s also a junior from Tampa, Fla.
“We feel an ownership,” she continued. “I’d never done anything like this before. I would call people, and they would ask me to call back at 8:30. I had a class at 8:30, so I would have to run out of class and call. They would ask for my name, then tell me that the person wasn’t in. I learned a lot about what people in advertising have to go through.”
But all wasn’t bad.
“We put it out on Facebook and Twitter,” Gilbert said. “We’d get emails with suggestions of people to call.”
Those daily emails led to more table seats being sold, which generated more funds for the band. Outside forces didn’t make this happen; band members did.
“It really changes the way we look at it,” Gilbert said.
Yet some things will always remain the same. Audience members will anticipate the band’s march into the Assembly Center and cheer when it opens its part of the program with those first four notes of “Tiger Rag” that begin the “Pregame” song.
And the crowd will continue to cheer when the band runs through its fight songs, as well as the lineup of numbers it’s performed at halftime in Tiger Stadium up to this point. Of course, the Golden Girls, Colorguard and cheerleaders will get their share of applause, too.
But there are other groups that will get deserved praise, as well. Sure the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Winds aren’t as well known as the Tiger Band, but they are part of the LSU Band Department. They annually combine forces to perform a few crowd favorites, including a song called “LSU Rhapsody.”
“That’s my favorite part of the program,” Barry said. “I’m in the Symphonic Winds, and I love the part where the horns are playing the Alma Mater in that song. I also love when the Tiger Band sings the Alma Mater at the end.”
“I love playing the ‘LSU Rhapsody,’ too,” Chamberlin said.
She’s a member of the Wind Ensemble, as well as the Tiger Band. But she and Barry are officially members of the concert groups when it’s time to play “God of Our Fathers.”
Gilbert was quiet for a moment. Yes, he was in high school when he first witnessed “God of Our Fathers” at Tigerama.
Now he’s one of the musicians playing that song in an event he helped put together.
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