EPHS Band to Perform at Memorial Stadium with the U of I Marching Illini

EPHS Band to Perform at Memorial Stadium with the U of I Marching Illini

PHOTO: The EPHS Band, shown here at a home football game in 2016, will perform Sept. 2 in Champaign during halftime of the Fighting Illini season opener.  

The Elmwood Park High School Band will travel to Memorial Stadium in Champaign on Sept. 2 to perform with the University of Illinois Marching Illini.

The band will play during halftime of the Illinois season-opening football game against Ball State. The game begins at 11 a.m.

EPHS will join other high schools from around the state (and one from Indiana) in sending bands to participate in the Marching Illini's annual Illinois Band Day. So far, 19 bands have signed up to perform.

"This is the first time that we've traveled to Champaign," said Band Director Mr. Kyle Rhoades. "We performed with the Northwestern University Wildcat Marching Band at their similar event last year."

A Great Learning Opportunity

Mr. Rhoades noted that many colleges host a "Band Day" event each year, during which any high school band can perform.

"Usually there will be a couple dozen other high school bands on the field with the hosting college marching band," Mr. Rhoades said. "It's a great learning opportunity for the kids. They get a taste of how band works at the college level — and it doesn't hurt for university recruitment, either!"

The EPHS Band will stand and perform three pieces with the Marching Illini during halftime: "24K Magic," "Fireball" and "Lips are Movin'."

According to Mr. Rhoades, while many students are excited by the opportunity to play in a Big Ten stadium, their enthusiasm is tempered by the need to report to EPHS before 4 a.m. on the day of the performance.

A Big Ten Marching Band Veteran

For his part, Mr. Rhoades is no stranger to Big Ten venues. The EPHS and Elm Middle School music teacher-band director played trumpet for the Marching Illini as a U of I student from 2003 to 2006.

"It's amazing to be a part of a college marching band," Mr. Rhoades recalled. "Everyone there not only wants to be there but has competitively auditioned for their spot — both by season and each week. Everyone takes pride in what they do and performs at their best for every game."

Asked to single out a favorite memory of his time with the Marching Illini, Mr. Rhoades replied: "It's an amazing experience all around to play and march at that level with approximately 350 of those who become your closest friends. It's not about a specific experience or show for me, it's about the four years total."

Illinois Band Day Lineup

Here is the lineup as of Aug. 21 for Illinois Band Day at Memorial Stadium. Tickets to the Sept. 2 Illinois-Ball State game are available here.

► Arcola High School, IL

► Auburn High School, IL

► Coal City High School, IL

► Crete-Monee High School, IL

► Eisenhower High School, IL

► El Paso Gridley High School, IL

Elmwood Park High School, IL

► Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School, IL

► Johnsburg High School, IL

► Lexington High School, IL

► Litchfield High School, IL

► Marshall High School, IL

► Metea Valley High School, IL

► Mount Vernon Township High School, IL

► North Central High School, IN

► Pana High School, IL

► Reed-Custer High School, IL

► Rock Falls High School, IL

► Rushville Industry High School, IL

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