Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Alma Mater, "A Toast To DePauw," performed by Dr. Stanley Irwin and the DePauw University Band

This past Saturday was a very busy day for me, and it was a day where I couldn't help but be drenched in school spirit. Among the things I did were to represent the Tiger Pep Band at the Organizations Fair, to represent the school in an admissions panel, play with the University Band, and socialize with a mass amount of alumni at our annual Frank Norris Pig Dinner at Phi Gamma Delta. At the Organizations Fair, I listened to both the recording of the Alma Mater, "A Toast To DePauw," and and the Fight Song, "Here's To DePauw," on endless repeat. These recordings, both made by the University Band on the Timepieces album, document the beginnings of the Tiger Pep Band.

This year, the Tiger Pep Band celebrated it's 10th year anniversary. Before the pep band existed, the University Band was required to play at football and basketball games. This requirement existed because the DePauw Marching Band was no longer present. Dr. Craig Pare', who was the new the director of bands, prestigiously took the band to games, and did so in great numbers. All of the alumni that I have met from this period, and every period after, speak very proudly of their fondness to Dr. Pare'. Eventually, Dr. Pare', along with alumnus Jason Dibbler, founded the student-run Tiger Pep Band, and it still runs to this day proudly under the direction of yours truly.

The recording of the Alma Mater stirs up feelings of spirit, pride, gratitude, and respect. And what better performers than the University Band and longtime voice professor, Dr. Stanley Irwin. The music contains a consistent, unison rhythmic pattern played by all instruments. Unlike the Fight Song, the only percussion part is for bells. The Fight Song is driven by the percussion section. The brass and woodwinds move in dense control, like a Bach chorale for organ. Dr. Irwin's bass-baritone voice sublimely fits into the texture, and his operatic vibrato gives the piece an almost tearful spirit. It makes the listener understand why DePauw alumni are so proud of their school. This is especially apparent when Dr. Irwin utters the words "Hail Old Gold throughout the land." The harmony works from the bass function up. The sustained horn notes at the ends of phrases also adds to the dominating sense of pride. The band emulates the sound of a brass choir. The bells, which double the melody, give a sense of happiness to the tune. The Alma Mater is very special to all DePauw alumni, and that emotive quality is preserved in the recording.


A Toast To DePauw
Written by Vivien N. Bard '17

To Old DePauw we toast today,
And raise our voices high
We'll honor thee and loyal be
And praise thee to the sky.

Let ev'ry son and daughter stand
United e'er for thee,
And hail Old Gold throughout the land,
Here's to you, Old DePauw.

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