Dr. Bruce Moss holds his baton and faces the audience while the band plays on stage
Dr. Bruce Moss gestures to the audience as he conducts the final BGSU Bands centennial year celebration concert, and his last concert as BGSU director of band activities. (BGSU photo/Keira Ellenberger)

Culminating a centennial celebration of BGSU Bands: A harmonious legacy

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Gala concert marks the end of a year of commemorative events, the retirement of Dr. Bruce Moss and highlights the Banding Together Centennial Campaign

On Sunday, April 7, Bowling Green State University Bands culminated their centennial year celebration with a gala concert that invited both a look back at the ensembles' musical legacy and a glimpse of excellence to come as the ensembles enter their second century.  

During Sunday's gala event, more than 300 musicians — both current students and alumni — took the stage, performing in the Wind Symphony and Alumni Band, under the direction of Dr. Bruce Moss, professor and director of band activities. The concert was preceded by performances by the Symphonic and University Bands directed by Dr. Kenneth Thompson and assistant teaching professor Jon Waters on Saturday. Both concerts celebrated a century of melodies that have shaped generations of musicians. 

A final bow

The gala concert featured favorites from the canon as well as a newly commissioned work for worldwide distribution. The event marked the world premiere of "All the Earth and Air" by Tyler Grant. The piece was commissioned for Moss by the BGSU Band Alumni Society in recognition of his 30 years of dedicated leadership as BGSU Director of Bands.

“All the Earth and Air” was performed by a band of 80 alumni members. The piece, Moss said, was intentionally written so it could be played by a good high school ensemble. Many of the alumni band members are also band directors and they sought a piece they can perform with their own ensembles.  

Grant, who was on hand for the world premiere of "All the Earth and Air," said though he personally has no ties to BGSU, the music world itself is inextricably tied to the University because of Moss' career at BGSU and the weight his reputation carries in the field.  

Man in a tuxedo smiles on stage
Dr. Bruce Moss, professor and director of band activities, acknowledges the audience during Sunday's concert, his last at BGSU. (BGSU photo/Keira Ellenberger)

It was also revealed that Sunday's gala was the final concert for Moss, who is retiring after leading the band division through decades of success, including leading the Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band to performances at the College Band Directors National Association Conference, and — on multiple occasions — at the Ohio Music Education Association Professional Development Conference. In 2017, Moss received the Outstanding Educator Award from the Ohio Music Education Association and was presented a Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association numerous times.  

Moss addressed the large audience, thanking his own teachers and sharing memories of his decades in music at BGSU.  

"Bands at BGSU have a rich and storied tradition of excellence," he said. "I am honored to have held the title of Director of Bands for the past 30 years and to have been a part of guiding countless students through the band program. It is the power of music itself and my desire to share my love for it with students that has been most important to me over the years. When students can experience that joy in musical performance, it’s magical." 

Moss assisted the Band Alumni Society in coordinating the alumni participation as well as the entire alumni portion of the program. Over 130 alumni members returned, the largest alumni concert band during Moss’s tenure. The group consisted of members from both his era and that of his predecessor, Mark Kelly, who started his tenure at BGSU in 1966. 

Hundreds of band musicians fill a stage
More than 130 alumni members of BGSU bands returned for Dr. Bruce Moss' final concert and the culminating event of the bands' centennial year. (BGSU photo/Keira Ellenberger)

Another world premiere written expressly for BGSU bands debuted on Saturday, as the Symphonic Band performed "Forever Falcons: A Centennial Fanfare," written by alumnus Benjamin Taylor '11. 

Also during Sunday's performance, alumnus David Babich ’07, Chief Musician in the U.S. Navy Band in Washington, performed the saxophone solo in Premier Solo de Concours by Gabriel Pares. Babich, who obtained his bachelor of music in education and performance from BGSU, is also the assistant coordinator of the International Saxophone Symposium, hosted by the U.S. Navy Band.  

Sunday's concert culminated with a massed band that packed the rafters of Kobacker Hall as a contingent from the Falcon Marching Band and other student musicians joined in for the alma mater and other BGSU pep repertoire.  

BGSU Bands have woven a melodious tapestry across a century. The journey began in 1923, when student Leo Lake and faculty member Earl Claire Powell established the very first marching band at what was then known as Bowling Green State Normal College. With approximately 20 members, this ensemble, simply called “the College Band,” embarked on a musical odyssey that would resonate through time. Fast forward 100 years and the Falcon Marching Band alone boasts more than 300 members, making it the largest student organization at BGSU.  

Banding Together Centennial Campaign 

As the final notes of the centenary concert fade, BGSU Bands also invites fans and supporters to keep the music going through Banding Together, the BGSU Bands Centennial Campaign.   

This campaign aims to support BGSU Bands in their immediate needs and elevate their musical excellence across all venues. The project areas include: 

  • Falcon Marching Band Field Project Fund to provide an enhanced turf field and new teaching tower west of Perry Field House. This will provide a quality practice environment for the Falcon Marching Band and a venue for other BGSU activities. 
  • Falcon Marching Band Fund to support the purchase and maintenance of instruments, especially sousaphones, trombones, mellophones and a new sound system. 
  • BGSU Bands Endowment Fund to provide support in perpetuity for a range of BGSU Band program initiatives, including special projects, music commissions, guest artists, recruitment and band travel. 

“To all the students, alumni, faculty, staff and supporters, past and present, who have been a part of this journey, thank you for your passion, talent and commitment,” said Dr. William Mathis, dean of the College of Musical Arts. “Your contributions have shaped BGSU Bands into what it is today, and your legacy will continue to inspire future generations. Here’s to the next 100 years of excellence, innovation and harmony!” 

Musicians play during a concert
BGSU Wind Ensemble members perform during the final event of the BGSU Bands' 100th anniversary year. (BGSU photo/Keira Ellenberger)

Impact on students and community

The BGSU Bands are more than musical ensembles; they are a force of inspiration and transformation. Within these ranks, students hone their craft, learn discipline, and forge lifelong friendships. At any given time, rehearsal rooms in the Moore Musical Arts Center echo with dedication, as these student musicians evolve into seasoned artists and impactful music education professionals.  

The BGSU Bands also extend their embrace beyond campus. Their performances at local events, parades and community gatherings weave a sonic thread that binds the BGSU learning community, as the bands contribute to the cultural life of the University and the broader community.  

The University has never been without music on campus, from the first existence of a department (1914-1961), to a School of Music (1961-1975) and, finally, the College of Musical Arts in 1975. 

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349

Updated: 04/15/2024 11:02AM