The University of Pennsylvania Band

The University of Pennsylvania Band (commonly known as the Penn Band, or its vaudeville-esque performance moniker The Huge, the Enormous, the Well-Endowed, Undefeated, Ivy-League Champion, University of Pennsylvania Oxymoronic Fighting Quaker Marching Band) is among the most active collegiate band programs in the country. [Images of America: The University of Pennsylvania Band (2006) (Arcadia Publishing)] The organization is a part of the Department of Athletics at the University of Pennsylvania. Like most of the other 50 performing arts groups on the Penn Campus, the Penn Band has no affiliation with any academic department and is sponsored by the Vice Provost’s Office for Undergraduate Life. The organization, typically ranging between 80 and 100 members every year, is among the largest and most active student-run organizations on campus, performing upwards of 60 times during the academic year. Like most of the Ivy League Bands, the Penn Band is a scramble band.


Founded in 1897, the Penn Band stands among the oldest college bands in the country, and one of the nation's first traveling bands (1901). According to popular legend, the band began after a single trumpet player named Felix A. Dupont played to the jeers of residents in the student quadrangle (“Shut up, frosh!”).

Its history is marked with a remarkable record of performance and achievement. In its first year of existence, the Band performed twice for President William McKinley, as well as at the opening of Houston Hall, the country’s first student union. In subsequent years, the organization became an integral part of Penn sporting events, including contests at historic Franklin Field and the Palestra, and campus traditions such as ‘Hey Day,’ ‘Rowbottoms,’, and Commencement ceremonies. Appearances during the 20th century include countless NCAA tournament games (including The NCAA Final Four), the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (the first collegiate marching band to ever march in the parade), the 1964 World’s Fair, and the Miss America Pageant Parade (on more than one occasion). During its history, the organization has performed with notable musicians, including John Phillip Sousa, Edwin Goldman, members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the U.S. Marine Band (“The President's Own”), “Doc” Severinsen of the Johnny Carson Show, and the prominent composer Vaclav Nelhybel. The band’s performances also include national broadcasts and numerous recordings, beginning in the late 1920’s with the RCA-Victor Company.

The first one hundred years of the organization's history was recently featured in a book from Arcadia Publishing - Images of America:The University of Pennsylvania Band (2006).

The Penn Band Today

Today, the Penn Band is a bastion of music and mirth on the Penn Campus, performing at campus events and traditions, all Football games, and most Men’s and Women’s Basketball games. The group also tours along the East Coast; in the past decade, the group has toured Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, as well as San Diego, California. The group’s appearances include eight NCAA tournament games on national television in the past ten years, ESPN Game Day Live, MSNBC Hardball, and the Fox and Friends Morning Show. Earlier in 2007, the band had the opportunity to perform with rock legend and drummer Simon Kirke on the Penn campus.

The University of Pennsylvania Band March

In 1901, the renowned bandmaster Roland F. Seitz (1867-1946) of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania wrote the famous University of Pennsylvania Band March. The march is generally regarded as one of the finest compositions ever written for a student band, and ultimately was adapted by many other organizations throughout the country.

The Franklin Field March

Edwin Franko Goldman, who was generally regarded only second to John Phillip Sousa in the early 20th century, composed the Franklin Field March for the University of Pennsylvania Band. On November 5th, 1932, Goldman’s Franklin Field March was performed for the first time at the annual University of Pittsburgh-University of Pennsylvania football game.


Oxymoron is the Penn Band's e-mail listserv. Members post everything from links to stories to basketball scores. Some members post fan fiction stories about other members of the band.

In addition, there are several Oxy-related terms that refer to past bandos:

*To Pull a Creedon: To post something to the list serve that has already been posted. (Named for Dan Creedon, class of 2004)

*To Pull a Bellis: To reply to every post on Oxy, without replying to yourself, making every thread as long as possible. (Named for Chris Bellis, Class of 2006).

*To Pull a Neiderbach: trying to forward something from oxymoron to somebody else, but forwarding it to oxymoron instead. (Named for Josiah Neiderbach, College Class of 2006, Master of City Planning Class of 2008)

*To Pull a Fenton: to reply to all to a post on Social. Then, do it again, and again...and (you see where this is going?). Just check what you're replying to before you hit send. (Named for Will Fenton, GSE Class of 2005)

Famous Alumni

Greer Cheeseman- started toast tradition


*Script Penn - At Homecoming, the Band and Band Alumni form a script PENN on the field during the halftime show

*Toast-throwing - At every Penn football game (including away games), during the singing of "Drink a Highball" after the third quarter, fans throw a piece of toast onto the field while the band plays the lyrics 'here's a toast to dear old Penn.'

*Hang Jeff Davis - The Band sings Hang Jeff Davis every time the football team scores

*Alumni Day and Commencement - The Band leads the parade of alumni and graduates during these springtime festivities.

*Band Football League (BFL)- After every field rehearsal for football season the band plays a touch football game on Franklin Field. Also, every year the Sunday after homecoming the Geezers take on the undergrads. The winner of this game wins the R. Greer Cheeseman BFL Trophy. The undergrads won the trophy for the first time ever on Sunday, October 21, 2007. The Geezers have never won it.


*Penn Songs
**Hail, Pennsylvania! (The Alma Mater)
**The Red and Blue
**The Battle Cry of Penn ("Hang Jeff Davis")
**Cheer Pennsylvania!
**Drink a Highball
**Fight On Pennsylvania!
**Men of Pennsylvania
**The University of Pennsylvania Band March
**Franklin Field March

Discography (known)

**The University of Pennsylvania Band (RCA Victor) (1926)
**The Songs of the University of Pennsylvania (1954)
**The Songs of the University of Pennsylvania (1958?)
**The University of Pennsylvania Symphonic Band (1963)
**Cheer Pennsylvania! (1983)
**Penn Band: World Tour (1986)
**Live at Smoke's (1989)
**A Toast to Dear Old Penn (1993)
**Five Score and Several Years to Go (1997)
**The Band That Rocks the Cradle (2001)
**The Band Before Time (2007)

External links

* []

Other Scramble Bands

*Brown University Band
*Columbia University Marching Band
*Dartmouth College Marching Band
*Harvard University Band
*Michigan Technological University Huskies Pep Band
*Princeton University Band
*Rice University's Marching Owl Band
*Stanford University Marching Band
*Virginia Pep Band
*Yale Precision Marching Band
* The Humboldt State University Marching Lumberjacks
* The UC Davis Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh!
* The Villanova University Band
* William and Mary Pep Band
* The Williams College Mucho Macho Marching Moo Cow Band


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