KNOXVILLE — What would a fall Saturday in Knoxville be without the sounds of the Pride of the Southland Marching Band playing “Rocky Top” or “Fight Vols, Fight”?
To ensure the tradition of excellence lives on, UT alumnus H. Lee Martin and his wife, Carla Martin, made a lead gift to establish an endowment in honor of one of the band’s most innovative leaders, WJ Julian.
The endowed professorship, the WJ Julian Professor of Bands, was created to ensure that the university is able to attract and retain an outstanding band director by providing a competitive compensation package. The Martins made the first gift toward the professorship; alumni and supporters of the band made additional gifts to build the professorship fund to a fully endowed level. In total, commitments from 147 band alumni and friends of the band were received.
“This gift is really all about the history and legacy of Dr. Julian, the man who made the Pride of the Southland Marching Band what it is today and to ensure its future for tomorrow,” said Lee Martin, who is an alumnus of the marching band and earned his bachelor’s degree and doctorate in mechanical engineering from UT Knoxville.
“Through the sheer visibility of the Pride of the Southland Marching Band, the professor of bands plays a key role in the public’s perception of the university,” Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said. “The band has had exceptional leaders in its history, and I’m grateful to Lee and Carla Martin for their commitment to ensure that level of leadership for generations. Honoring Dr. Julian’s legacy in this way is a perfect tribute.”
Assuming direction of the band in 1960, Julian led the group to new heights. Under Julian, the band was revolutionized in style and appearance with new uniforms, which have remained a tradition to this day. Flourishing under his leadership, the band was known not only for its level of performance, but also for its innovation of the “circle-drill.” In 1972, Julian introduced a new song to the fans at Neyland Stadium, “Rocky Top,” which quickly became the school’s unofficial fight song. Countless traditions were established under Julian’s leadership, including the opening of the “T” for the football team at every pregame ceremony.
“I am deeply honored about the establishment of this professorship because it is going to be a great benefit for the future of the Pride of the Southland Marching Band,” Julian said. “The first person that will benefit from it, Dr. Gary Sousa, is an outstanding person. This prize will be wonderful thing for the future — and for future band directors — and I am most elated.”
A private reception was held Sept. 3 to recognize Julian’s accomplishments and to announce that the professorship — the first ever in the history of the UT School of Music — will be awarded to the current director, Gary Sousa.
Sousa has been the director of bands and professor of music since 1997. In this role, he conducts the wind ensemble, teaches graduate courses in conducting and repertoire, directs the masters program in wind conducting and oversees the entire band program, consisting of concert bands, athletic bands and the Pride of the Southland Marching Band. Prior to accepting this appointment, Sousa was director of bands at Sam Houston State University and associate director of bands at Baylor University. Under Sousa’s leadership, ensembles have received critical acclaim from both composers and conductors alike. He maintains an active schedule as guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States and Canada.
Gifts to UT Knoxville are part of UT’s $1 billion Campaign for Tennessee, of which the Knoxville campus goal is more than $600 million. The campaign will continue through December 2011 with particular emphasis on increasing the campus endowment to create more student scholarships, professorships, research opportunities and curriculum enhancements. Funds raised will directly impact UT Knoxville’s goal of becoming a Top 25 research university within 10 years.
Kristi Hintz (865-974-3993, email@example.com)