Oregon band tunes up for national title game

University of Oregon football players aren’t the only Ducks preparing for a chance to shine in the national spotlight.

The 216 members of the Oregon Marching Band are tuning up for their performance at the BCS National Championship Game Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.

The band will get five minutes before the national title game between Oregon and Auburn and seven minutes at half time. The band also will be playing various events, such as pep rallies and parties, in the days leading up to the game.

As with the football team, there’s pressure on the band to perform on a national stage.

“The football team is taking us to this trip,” said Eric Wiltshire, director of athletic bands. “ The football team has brought us into the national arena, but we need to live up to that.”

The Oregon band also will be competing, if only for pride, with Auburn’s band, he said. Auburn, he said, “has a great band,” which is “very traditional,” and about twice as large as Oregon’s.

“We’re not as traditional,” he said.

Oregon will be performing its show featuring music from the movie “Avatar.”

The trip will be a “trial by fire” for the 105 first-year members of the band, Wiltshire said. The veterans of last year’s grueling trip to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena have a better idea of what’s in store in Arizona this year, he said.

“There are lot of performances and there are a lot of expectations of places we have to be, and it's busy, and I think the veterans now realize this is not a vacation, but this is a working trip,” he said.

Sophomore Kevin Wade said the opportunity to play before a national audience is “awesome.”

“Last year, being a freshman at the Rose Bowl, that was a lot of pressure,” he said. “Now we’re just stepping it up to another level by going to the national championship and being in a game that everyone is going to want to watch.”

Nearly 20 million households tuned into last year’s national title game between Alabama and Texas, according to ESPN.

— Contact Web reporter Tim Christie at timc@uoregon.edu