REVIEW: Band-O-Rama: Let’s Go BOO!


The School of Music, Theatre, and Dance here at Michigan is renown for their fantastic faculty and wonderful performing ensembles. Band-O-Rama, an annual showcase of the School’s wind ensembles gave us a mouthful of praise for these ensembles.

The night started off with the University Concert Band, led by Courtney Snyder, as they played a Sousa-esque march in ‘Michigan on Parade,’ ‘Blues for a Killed Kat,’ and Mackey’s Redline Tango.’ The University Symphony Band soon took over. Under the direction of longtime Director of Bands, Michael Haithcock, The Symphony Band played a few excerpts from works such as Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Snow Maiden,’ and Puccini’s ‘LeVilli.’ To finish it off, they played a rousing rendition of the great ‘Victor’s Valiant.’


The crowd came to a hush as the drumline entered the stage. They were standing in their traditional set when the lead snare started giving taps, signaling that the band was about to enter.

The MMB onstage at Hill Auditorium
The MMB onstage at Hill Auditorium, Courtesy of the MMB

Soon after, around 300 disciplined Michigan Marching band men and women rushed onto the stage from the aisles, in a style in which their thighs were parallel with the ground (this style is usually referred to as ‘entries’).  The aerobic exercise these people were getting could be deduced from the visible sweat pouring from their faces. It was impressive to say the least. A seemingly grueling two and a half minutes went by, as all of the members made their way onstage. After everyone was in their calculated spot, director John Pasquale gave a large motion downbeat, signaling the band to play the M Fanfare. Audience members that were aware of the tradition associated with the playing of the M Fanfare raised their right fist in a reverent salute, while the unaware soon followed suit. The culmination of the last fermata led right into a playing of The Victors, thus fully grabbing and engaging the audience for the rest of the night. Over the course of the MMB’s performance, they played songs from their recent halftime shows, such as Kesha’s ‘Timber,’ Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory,’ swing tunes such as Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman,” Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’ (yes, that one!), and the traditional ‘Little Brown Jug.’ A real treat, as always, was when the Drumline came center stage to play their cadences and specific repertoire. In addition to giving the brass a break for their embouchure’s sake, the Drumline cranked out highly impressive performances of their parade cadence and step show, showcasing their high level of talent and expertise to an eager audience. The event then closed off with the standard combination of ‘Temptation’ and ‘Hawaiian War Chant,’ “because you can’t have one without the other,”  and a beautiful rendition of the Alma Mater followed by ‘The Victors.’

PREVIEW: Band-O-Rama: Let’s Go Boo!

Band-O-Rama poster courtesy of The SMTD

Who: The University of Michigan Marching Band, Symphony, and Concert Bands

What: Band-O-Rama concert

Where: Hill Auditorium

When: Friday, October 31st, 8 p.m.

Price: $5-$18 for adults, $5 for students

Some of the best bands in the land take the stage at Hill Auditorium this friday. Come out and watch as the the school of music’s symphony and concert bands play fantastic concert music under the direction of Michael Haithcock and Courtney Snyder. Stay for Drum Major Jeff Okala and the famed Michigan Marching Band, as they perform their halftime repertoire and traditionals that any fan of the maize and blue will enjoy. The night is primed to be an event where we can all stand in pride and say, “Go BOO!’

You can go here for the Band-O-Rama facebook event. Also, be sure to check out some of the MMB’s halftime shows. If you’re  more of a fan of concert repertoire, take a look at what will surely be one of the highlights this saturday, Bilik’s Victor’s Valiant.

REVIEW: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Hayao Miyazaki is someone that never ceases to amaze me.  This maverick in the anime film industry has one of the largest filmographies out there, and all of his movies are worthy of praise. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is no exception.

Even Nausicaa agrees.  Source:

I walked into the State Theater with a sense of expectation. My first experiences with Studio Ghibli movies were when I was about nine years old. Toonami, a special weekend block on the old Cartoon Network, showed preview segments for what they called a “Month of Miyazaki.” If I remember well, the movies they showed over the course of that month were Princess Mononoke, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Princess Mononoke, arguably Miyazaki’s best film, is very much about the interaction between humans and nature. Laputa: Castle in the Sky, on the other hand, is about the human fascination with technology. It’s interesting to note that the same underlying themes exist in nearly all Miyazaki films. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind thus felt like a portmanteau of Princess Mononoke and Laputa, as it combined Miyazaki’s fascination with technology (mainly aviation) and his feelings on the role of humans within nature. It’s curious too, that Nausicaä was one of his first films.

Nausicaä starts out in distress as a large insect called an Ohm is chasing after a local swordsman, Lord Yupa. Our title heroine comes to the rescue and stuns the Ohm, thus saving Lord Yupa’s life. We soon find out that the reason the Ohm was unhappy was that there were gunshots fired in its habitat. The rest of the movie focuses on this theme of humans within nature, with the trigger-happy Tolmekian army attempting to control the Earth’s natural resources for iron ore. This enrages the Ohms, who can be thought as a metaphor for mother Earth. Mother Earth comes out on top, as she does in all Miyazaki films, and peace is restored to the land. The cathartic ending resounded favorably amongst the audience, who were expecting nothing less from Studio Ghibli.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was released in Japan in 1984 and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and based on Miyazaki’s Manga of the same name. It has received much critical acclaim and is regarded as the kickoff film for Studio Ghibli.