The Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band, shown performing before a 2016 South Dakota State University football game, will hold a concert Thursday at the Coolidge Sylvan Theatre on campus before leaving for Washington, D.C., where it will perform twice during the Memorial Day weekend.
Washington, D.C., is a location familiar to Kevin Kessler and The Pride of Dakotas Marching Band. Kessler, the director of athletic bands at South Dakota State University, and The Pride will be making their third trip together the nation’s capitol. Kessler was part of The Pride’s performances in the 1997 inauguration parade and in the Fourth of July parade in 2000. The Pride also performed in the 1981 inauguration parade.
Following a 7:30 p.m. concert Thursday at the Coolidge Sylvan Theatre, The Pride will board buses May 26 to travel to D.C. The Pride will perform May 28 at the World War II Memorial as part of the National Memorial Day Concert Series and then participate in the National Memorial Day Parade May 29. The Pride has plans to visit several memorials and the U.S. Capitol during the trip.
“Even though we’re going to D.C. again, this was a unique opportunity,” said Kessler, noting The Pride of the Dakotas alumni chapter will be serving free ice cream at Thursday’s concert. “Washington, D.C., is always a great place to take students.
“For our students, it’s a performance opportunity on a large scale on a large stage,” he continued. “More importantly, it gives them a chance to go to some place historically significant like Washington, D.C., and hopefully it means more to them than just the performance. It also speaks to the university’s land-grant mission. In terms of outreach, this is a chance for us to represent the state and the university on a national level. It’s part of our tradition … we think big and pursue these big performance opportunities.”
Landon Bushong, a fifth-year member of The Pride from Tulare, is looking forward to playing “America the Beautiful” at the World War II Memorial.
“I think it will be very cool to play there, especially on Memorial Day. It’s very humbling that we will be able to have this experience,” said Bushong, who is majoring in agricultural systems technology. “The most exciting thing is, even though I have been to D.C. before, I have yet to take it all in. This is a great thing for The Pride to do.
Kessler said The Pride played approximately half of its routine in fall 2016. One of the new pieces will be “Independence Hymn,” which was arranged by former Director of Athletic Bands Jim Coull when The Pride went to D.C. in 2000.
To prepare for the trip, The Pride returns to campus for rehearsals Wednesday and Thursday. The Thursday night concert will feature songs that will be played in D.C.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to have a run-through since we don’t have a chance to practice from when we leave Friday morning until about 30 minutes before we perform that Sunday,” Kessler said.
About South Dakota State University
Founded in 1881, South Dakota State University is the state’s Morrill Act land-grant institution as well as its largest, most comprehensive school of higher education. SDSU confers degrees from six different colleges representing nearly 200 majors, minors and specializations. The institution also offers 35 master’s degree programs, 15 Ph.D. and two professional programs.
The work of the university is carried out on a residential campus in Brookings, at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City, and through Extension offices and Agricultural Experiment Station research sites across the state.