Band Trip to England
It was the summer of 1972…..the year the Albion Purple Eagles traveled to London, England to compete in the Anglo-International Festival of Music and came back with TWO FIRST PLACE trophies – one for Symphonic Band Demonstration and one for Field Drill Performance! It was the first time a band had ever captured BOTH awards! They also earned a second place plaque for symphonic band music.
There were 122 traveling to London on that trip – 107 band members, twirlers, and color guard – 15 chaperones! The Band Director was Moses Sherman. Drum Majors were Ron Billingslea (class of ’72), David Zwifka (class of ’73), and Anne Woolston (class of ’73). Color Guard Captains were Jeff Wadhams (class of ’74) and Barb Chappius (class of ’72). Twirling Captain was Eileen Williams (class of ’72). The trip was financed through the Band Boosters and the band members, themselves, from rummage sales, concerts, auctions, paper drives, and other projects.
Aside from being the first band to ever capture first place in both awards, there were other records made by our amazing Purple Eagles: They were the youngest band to ever participate in the festival and they were the first American band to ever perform at Syon Park, home of the Duke of Northumberland – they performed a field drill on the green and a concert in the Conservatory Gardens.
When they returned to Albion, the group was greeted by over 300 people and an 8 foot square cake with the names of all the band members inscribed on it in purple frosting!!! It was a trip that the group and the community will never forget!
Following are some memories and newspaper clippings that some who were on the trip shared for this post:
- The trip started with a 2 hour delay at Niagara Falls Airport and an unexpected stop in Amsterdam, Holland before arriving in London!
- The group stayed at the University of Warwick during their week long visit.
- Sightseeing excursions during their trip: Oxford and Stratford, coffee with the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Warwick Castle, London (changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace), Syon Park near Windsor Castle
- MAJOR DRAMA — the instruments were lost for two days!!! The arrived at Coventry only a few minutes before a scheduled concert! After playing without a warm-up, the band was given a rousing ovation by the crowd!!! (Chaperone, Tom Roberts located the instruments and flew from Amsterdam with 40 tons of bananas while searching for them)
- They presented both concert and marching exhibitions at Warwick Castle on the esplanade below the ramparts of the Caesar Tower and Eltrelfreda Mounds.
- Sitting in the Newark airport because our plane had engine problems like for half the night.
- Susie Nesbitt, now Miller (class of ’76), getting lost on Piccadilly street.
- Looking at the peacocks in front of Warwick castle.
- Watching a robber being chased by police with their bobby sticks on roof tops of buildings outside of the Mr Frogge restaurant.
- Marching with all our pride on the castle grounds.
Do you have memories to share? Leave a comment here or on our FB page for others to read!
Mrs. Lee Woolston with (l-r):
kneeling – Jim Shelp ’76, David Karns ’73, David Zwifka ’73
standing – Barb Chappius ’72, Sue Burdett ’75, Carol Chappius ’76, Anne Woolston ’73
(l-r): Sue Culhane ’74, Tom Patterson ’75, unidentified, unidentified, Kevin Unterborn ’73
Chrissy Bistoff ’77
Susan Vagg ’77
Leslie Canham ’76
Posted by Kim Wright Pritt
Memories and clippings courtesy of Sue Tower Barlog, Deb Parker Traunstein, and Leslie Canham Allen