Marching Mizzou to travel abroad for parade and competition

The band participated in similar trips in 2012 and 2016, where they played at the Dublin St. Patrick’s Festival Parade and the Limerick International Band Championship.
Marching Mizzou announced that they will be going to Ireland to perform in March of 2020. Courtesy of Facebook via @MarchingMizzou

The MU School of Music announced that Marching Mizzou will be traveling to Ireland in March 2020 to play in the Dublin St. Patrick’s Festival Parade and to participate in the Limerick International Band Championship.

Amy Knopps, director of Marching Mizzou and the School of Music associate director of bands and director of athletic bands, revealed the news Monday at 3 p.m. in the Whitmore Recital Hall of the Fine Arts Building.

Marching Mizzou members were invited to the announcement on Thursday, March 14 through email, at which point speculation about the nature of the announcement began, Scotty O’Dell, sophomore statistics major and clarinet player, said.

“We were thinking earlier that there’s only three possibilities — a facility, scholarship money or a trip,” O’Dell said. “Me personally, I was hoping for a trip, especially with the postseason ban rolling around.”

After receiving the invitation to play in the parade from Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring, the announcement was slated for Monday since it was close to St. Patrick’s Day itself and gave students a chance to discuss the trip with their families over spring break, Knopps said.

“If they do transition home, they have the opportunity to talk about this financial commitment from their families, because this is something that is paid for directly by the student,” Knopps said. “It’s not subsidized by the school.”

Marching Mizzou has made trips to perform at the parade and competition twice before in 2012 and 2016, winning the title of “International Band Champions” in 2012 and “Overall Parade Champion” in 2016 at the International Band Championship.

“To be invited back is an honor and it’s also on the heels of what [Marching Mizzou has] done in the past,” Knopps said. “We were looked favorably upon by the selection committee if you’re someone who had a great experience in the past. They did well, and we were great ambassadors of the United States and the university.”

While many of the details of the trip have already been organized, such as hotel reservations and much of the itinerary, in the coming year Marching Mizzou will need to finalize certain logistical details, most notably in purchasing air travel.

Also, Marching Mizzou will practice for the competition over the year.

“We have to prepare when we get back all together in August officially and start off the 134th season,” Knopps said. “We’ve got to have that continually in our minds, and that is our end goal for March.”

During the announcement, Knopps went through the itinerary for the trip, which includes a mix of performances and sightseeing activities.

“They get to go play over there,” Julia Gaines, director of the School of Music, said. “They get to learn about the culture, and learning about the tradition and the history behind the parade is fantastic. A study abroad experience is very important for students, and we just do it differently in the School of Music.”

Gaines, who also spoke in the announcement, said that this difference lies partially in the number of those participating in the trip.

“For us, we want to go play, and the traditional study abroad that has 10 to 15 people does not afford you the opportunity to play,” Gaines said. “So, in the School of Music, we organize trips, national trips and international trips, for students to go have that experience, but it’s not necessarily through study abroad.”

Overall, studying abroad is a valuable experience for students, Gaines said.

“It just gets us out of our own comfort zone,” Gaines said. “You get a chance to realize it’s a really big world out there, and it’s really cool being around these different traditions.”

O’Dell thinks that the Ireland trip may also boost Marching Mizzou’s numbers.

“If you ever look at the demographics in Marching Mizzou, you’ll see it’s very bottom heavy, like freshmen and sophomores, not very top heavy with juniors and seniors,” O’Dell said. “I think this should be a little bit more interesting. We’ll probably have a lot more people coming back because they heard the news.”

In seeing the student reaction to the 2016 trip, Knopps is hopeful for the success of the upcoming trip.

“We have some students who are seniors now who went on that 2016 trip,” Knopps said. “So, they have fond memories, and I love when they say to the students that are younger that we had an amazing time, that we were really well taken care of and it was a life-defining trip for us.”

Edited by Emily Wolf | ewolf@themaneater.com

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