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Celebrate Pioneer Day with the USU Alumni Band

Thursday, Jul. 18, 2019

alumni band on the USU Quad

The Utah State University Alumni Band performs on the Quad Sunday, July 21, at 7 p.m., to celebrate Pioneer Day. The 7th Infantry Regimental Brass Band will perform at intermission. 

“This concert focuses on the mid-19th century and three events that occurred in close proximity,” Nicholas Morrison, music director of the USU Alumni Band and senior associate dean of the Caine College of the Arts, said. “These events are the transcontinental railroad, the American Civil War and the settlement of Utah.” 

The concert includes four works that acknowledge the long-ignored contributions of freed African American slaves (When the Stars Begin to Fall); the Irish (Danny Boy); the Chinese (Chen Yi’s Spring Festival) and the Latter Day Saints (Fantasy on Come, Come Ye Saints). 

Dennis D. Griffin, conductor and professor emeritus, joins the band to conduct Fantasy on Come, Come Ye Saints, a piece he also composed.

Griffin moved to Lehi in 2007 and has facilitated performing with the Orchestra at Temple Square and in other venues in and around Salt Lake City. During his time at USU, he taught percussion and directed the Percussion Ensembles for 36 years and the band for 10 years. 

Griffin has a complete percussion teaching studio in his home. In the Utah Day of Percussion Competition, his students have won many awards and a few have performed with the Utah Symphony in Salute to Youth concerts. He has earned a bachelor’s and master’s from USU and a doctorate from Brigham Young University.

“We are proud to present a work written for a previous anniversary of the railroad, Wedding of the Rails,” Morrison said. “This was written by John Philip Dalby, a former director of bands when we were the Utah Agricultural College.” 

The 7th Infantry Regimental Brass Band, directed by Hall Briggs, was formed in 1988 by Gen Fifield as part of the Festival of the American West. The band has performed on television, in documentaries and most recently at the Golden Spike Sesquicentennial Celebration and Festival.     

“We will play a patriotic piece called Honor to our Soldiers that was supposed to be premiered at Ford’s Theatre the night that President Lincoln was assassinated,” Briggs said. “The piece was never heard and was kept in the Library of Congress for years before it was ever performed.” 

The Alumni Band is comprised of more than 300 Caine College of the Arts (CCA) alumni who have continued to perform since graduation. Each concert consists of 45-60 musicians, all of whom donate their talents and only have a single rehearsal on the day of the performance to prepare. The personnel changes for each concert depend on musical needs and schedules of band members

The band is led by music director Nicholas Morrison, executive associate dean and professor of clarinet in the CCA. 

This season’s remaining Alumni Band concert will be held on August 4 in the Daines Concert Hall in the Chase Fine Arts Center on USU’s campus. Performances begin at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public. 

For more information, go online to  


  • - Whitney Schulte, Public Relations Specialist, Caine College of the Arts, 435-797-9203

Media Contact:

  • - Whitney Schulte, Public Relations Specialist, Caine College of the Arts, 435-797-9203

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