Manchester’s first band formed in 1927

Manchester’s marching band in 1965

When Manchester’s new marching band stepped onto the stadium field this fall it represented an idea whose time had come – again.

An earlier iteration of the band organized in 1927, according to records in the University Archives, and by 1929 the 39 band members were “enthusiastically received” when they played at football and basketball games.

As it turns out, Professor Andrew Cordier ’22, famous for helping to draft the United Nations charter, had fundraising skills, too. He led the efforts to get new uniforms for the musicians by 1930, no small feat in the outset of the Great Depression.

“Of all of the musical organizations, it is probably the band which is able to lend the most color to a college campus,” according to a description in the 1931 Aurora. “And our band, with its peppy music, and its members garbed in their trim uniforms, has certainly played an important part in the campus life this year.”

In 1932, Manchester expanded to two bands – one for concerts and one for marching.

The marching band wore black and gold uniforms and included the alma mater, “By the Kenapocomoco” in its repertoire, performed at home football games. They performed in a radio concert on Fort Wayne’s WOWO in 1932 and made a road trip to Ball State in 1938, the same year the band admitted women.

Through the years, the band performed a spring twilight concert beside the fountain, played at basketball games and in Manchester’s Homecoming Parade, and led the procession of students from campus to the town’s depot for the annual train ride to Camp Mack.

By 1964, the group had dwindled to only 35 students, according to a story that fall in Oak Leaves. Faculty dropped marching band from the curriculum for lack of interest.

Some 56 years later, everything old is new again. The band is back in town.