by Mary Liz Flavin | news editor
March 17, 2022
On Saturday, March 12, Pittsburgh’s streets were lined with people dressed in green, white and gold as the St. Patrick’s Day parade took place. This 150-year-old tradition was back in full swing after the last two years were canceled due to Covid-19. As the Pittsburgh parade committee says, the parade continues on through “rain, snow or shine,” and this year was no exception with snowy conditions.
The parade featured many organizations such as Irish step dancers, military members, community organizations and bands – including Duquesne’s very own Brass Band. James Gourlay, director of bands at Duquesne, was approached by organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day parade to see if any of the groups that he conducts would be interested in taking part in the parade.
According to Gourlay, on the day of the performance many students from the Brass Band were excited, however they faced some challenges along the way, specifically the cold.
“We had a great time, a time for building up team spirit, camaraderie and sheer fun. The parade was quite long, so we all had ‘jelly legs’ at the end. Especially me! I played the tuba,” Gourlay said. “Also we were really, really cold. It was so cold that the valves on some of the brass instruments actually froze and couldn’t be moved.”
Other Duquesne students who walked in the parade agreed that although the parade conditions made it a challenge to play, they had good experiences nonetheless. Donny White, a music education student, played the flugelhorn.
“I think the band performed very well once we got warmed up,” White said. “Dr. Gourlay was counting us off from the tuba line in the back of the band. It was hard to hear him because of the volume of the crowd. At one point he counted us off and we didn’t hear, only the tubas played.”
Along their route the band played the classic Irish march, “Star of Erin” by Gerry Horabin.
Julia Lawrence, music education major, overcame a few difficulties while performing on the trumpet.
“I had bad luck with my valves freezing. Due to extremely cold temperatures, most of our instruments were flat,” Lawrence said.
Despite the challenges, Lawrence said she remembered a group of Pitt students shouted that they loved the trumpet. Lawrence said she considered it a highlight of the parade.
It wasn’t just the band that made the parade a success, first-year graduate student of music performance; Allen Fry, was responsible for organizing the banners for the trailer and candy to be given to the crowd.
“It was fun for all of us to hear the spectators cheering us on as we marched by,” Fry said. “We hope to do it again next year and grow Duquesne’s presence in the parade.
Gourlay shared the same sentiment as he guided the band through the parade, lending a hand with his tuba.
“The parade was a great opportunity to get the Duquesne name before the public and for the newly-formed brass band to be seen and heard. The students who took part will certainly have something to remember for the rest of their lives and it was great to hear alumni cheering us on,” Gourlay said.