UMass Amherst Marching Band Awarded 1998 Louis C. Sudler Trophy, Top Award in the Nation

AMHERST, Mass. - The UMass Amherst Minuteman Marching Band has been selected to receive the 1998 Louis C. Sudler Trophy, the nation’s top marching band award.

The national trophy, presented annually by the John Philip Sousa Foundation, is voted on each year by college band directors from across the country. The award honors "the close historical relationship and outstanding contribution of Intercollegiate Marching Bands to the American way of life," and is given to a college marching band with a "superior program," according to the foundation. It is named after Chicago real estate magnate Louis C. Sudler, a patron of the arts who helped reestablish the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during the late ’60s and ’70s and who later founded the John Philip Sousa Foundation to help support marching bands nationwide.

UMass band director George Parks announced the award Sun., Dec. 21 at Grinnell Arena on campus. Parks chose Grinnell for the announcement to highlight renovations recently made to the band’s new home there. In attendance were band members, alumni, and administrators.

Parks praised the band for its hard work and commitment during the past year. He pointed out that its 300 members represent more than 140 cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as well as 18 states from Florida to California.

"This is a great honor for the University, the band members, and every alumnus who has ever participated in the Minuteman band," Parks said. "Just to be on the list with those other great marching band traditions is the highest honor we could ever receive."

Parks celebrated his 20th anniversary with the band this year. During the past two decades he has won the Massachusetts Conductor of the Year Award, the UMass Distinguished Teaching award, and the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Service. He has also established an annual Band Leadership Training Seminar and Drum Major Academy, which attracts more than 3,000 students from almost every state in the country each summer.

Parks said the award will be prresented to the Minuteman Marching Band next fall at the UMass homecoming football game.