The Penn Band, one of the first collegiate marching bands in the country, began modestly in 1897 with just 27 volunteer musicians. Today, it is one of the largest student-run organizations on campus, boasting 123 members from 30 states and 12 countries. Only one of the students is a music major.
On Dec. 18, the band celebrates its 120th anniversary.
Sponsored by the Vice Provost’s Office for Undergraduate Life, the Penn Band is a part of the Department of Athletics. Woven into the cultural “red and blue” fabric of Penn, the band marks the highlights of the academic year from Convocation to Commencement and everything in between: Homecoming, Family Weekend, Alumni Weekend, football games, basketball games, and other events.
They practice Monday nights at the Platt Student Performing Arts House and on Wednesday nights at Franklin Field.
Throughout its 120-year history, the Penn Band has played at the opening of the New York World’s Fair, for children at local schools, at the Christmas Village and the annual lighting of the Hanukkah Menorah in Center City Philadelphia, during a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and at festivals and parades.
Photo at top: On Monday nights, the Penn Band practices at the Platt Student Performing Arts House, a central hub that supports the performing arts at the University by providing a rehearsal space, a place to relax, socialize, and generate innovative ideas for the next big show.