If you did the work, you earned the diploma, but graduation without the pomp just doesn’t feel like quite the circumstance. Thankfully, the pageantry and fanfare of the University of Connecticut graduation ceremonies are back after a two-year hiatus, courtesy of the UConn Herald Trumpeters.
The trumpeters don’t just bring the fanfare; they play it.
“Fanfare is a very bombastic announcement of what is happening,” says Associate Director of Athletic Bands and Interim Director of Wind Ensemble Ricardo Brown, who instructs the UConn Herald Trumpeters along with Professor of Trumpet Louis Hanzlik.
The trumpeters play at almost every UConn graduation ceremony, standing with flagged trumpets to announce the entrance of the graduates. They play three distinct fanfares. Each announces a different group: faculty, students and presiding dignitaries each get their own as they enter the hall.
The UConn Herald Trumpeters are always comprised of students from the musical performance and musical education programs. The group has three soprano trumpets (this is the typical voice of the instrument) played this year by Michael Reed, Nathan Suarez, and Rebecca Setzler; two baritone trumpets played by Anthony Alatsas and John Blackstone Gardner; and one snare drum, played by Charles Marenghi.
Performing at an event as large as graduation makes the Herald Trumpeters one of the most visible–and audible–parts of the music department. They get to show off the excellency of UConn music. There is no conductor with them. The snare drum gives the signal, and the trumpeters play the fanfare. They nail it every time.
The group has played the fanfares at the University’s graduation ceremonies for decades, until the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. Skipping two years might not seem like a lot, but it’s a long time in an undergraduate’s life. None of the current players were in the group before the pandemic, and those two years could have been enough to break the tradition.
“This is a responsibility, to continue to exist. All these bands could have easily not come back. Some didn’t,” at other schools, Brown says. But each of these students stepped up to fill the blue robes of the Herald Trumpeters who came before them. “And we are incredibly grateful.”