The Beat Goes On
The Pride and Concert Choir are preparing for life-changing trips.
When 346 members of The Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band climb aboard chartered jets in November, headed for a performance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, it’ll be the first trip to New York City for at least three-fourths of the students.
In December 2023, up to 60 members of the Concert Choir will embark on a nine-day trip to Sweden and Norway, a combination of performances and sight-seeing.
Both are life-changing experiences—that come with a steep price. The cost for each Pride member is $2,500 (learn how you can help); the Concert Choir trip is about $4,500 per student. The SDSU Foundation is raising money to ensure no one misses the experience for financial reasons. Private donors will absorb $2,000 of the cost for each Pride member and $3,000 for every Concert Choir member.
“I was able to go to Spain and Italy with Dr. Laura Diddle and the choir, and those trips are highlights of my life, in addition to the tours I did with The Pride and symphonic band in my college days,” says Cari Mack, a 1985 pharmacy graduate. “No student musician should have to miss an experience like that because of finances.”
She and her husband, Hugh '86, made a gift to help underwrite the Concert Choir trip. The Macks’ son, Murphy '13/Pharm. D. '15, and daughters, Madelin '16 and Miranda '20, were in Concert Choir and The Pride. Their daughter, Marlee '18, was in Concert Choir.
“It is a part of the mission of the School of Performing Arts to organize events and activities that culminate in lifelong memories for students, enrich the educational experience, and build on the university’s longstanding tradition of excellence,” said David Reynolds, Director of the School of Performing Arts. "I am incredibly humbled by the support we receive."
“Without our donors, none of this could happen.”
Jocelyn Tillman, an electrical engineering major from Jackson, Minnesota, played only pep band in high school. She participated in the Best Robotics event hosted by SDSU from grades 6 to 12; that positive exposure to campus led her to choose to become a Jackrabbit. Her awards include the prestigious Stephen F. Briggs Scholarship.
“Being a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) major, I wanted something active and art-based to break up the routine,” said Tillman, in her second year in The Pride. She flew to Disneyworld at age 6, but “the experience of traveling to New York is going to be amazing to me.”
Michael Garofalo, an Aberdeen Roncalli graduate and third-year Pride member, says the band is “like being in a second family.” The junior political science and communications studies major said, growing up, the Macy’s Parade was always on TV as family gathered for Thanksgiving. “It’s crazy to think they’ll be watching me” this time, he said.
“It’s incredible to be afforded an opportunity like this. We’re going to rock it.”
Caden Fischer is among the Concert Choir members making the trip abroad in late December 2023. The Menno, sophomore is majoring in computer science and mathematics and completed an internship in software engineering at Raven Industries this summer.
“It’s definitely going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Fischer said. He’s looking forward to performing in the cathedrals, experiencing different cultures and perhaps catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights. He calls it, “the thrill of the unknown.”
Fischer was on stage at the SDSU Foundation’s Celebration of Philanthropy in April 2022 when the choir was surprised with the news that donors would cover two-thirds of the trip’s cost. “We are all super thankful for that.”
Thinking of the worldwide audience for the Macy’s Parade, Tillman says, “It’s very nerve-wracking, so we have to represent. We have to show we’re the best.”