Nearly 250 Amsterdam Marching Rams, both past and present, to perform at alumni show

The Amsterdam Marching Rams march the width of Lindbergh Avenue during Saturday's homecoming parade on Oct. 2, 2021

The Amsterdam Marching Rams march the width of Lindbergh Avenue during Saturday's homecoming parade on Oct. 2, 2021

AMSTERDAM Last Friday night, under a familiar cascade of purple and gold, booming brass and crashing percussion, the Amsterdam Marching Rams played their first show of the year during halftime of the Amsterdam football game at Lynch Literacy Academy.

The disco-themed performance was the marching band’s senior show, one that Marching Rams director Ann Wilary said the band, the Majorettes and the color guard spent weeks preparing for.

And, as soon as they got done with that show, they were on to something far more ambitious.

On Saturday, the 125-member Marching Rams will be joined by more than 100 former members for an alumni show during Amsterdam’s homecoming parade and football game.

It’s a performance that’s held once every four years, and brings generations of former Marching Rams together.

“We do it so that if you’re a current Marching Ram, you’ll have an alumni show once when you’re in high school,” Wilary said.

Putting the alumni show together is no easy task.

Instead of a normal performance with 125 members, the alumni show typically adds another 100-plus to the mix. As of Thursday, Wilary said 120 alumni — ranging from 2022 graduates to former Majorettes who are in their 70s — have registered online to be a part of the performance.

“It’s another whole group of us,” she said. “It’s a lot of work putting it together, but for our current students, I think it’s a really cool experience for them. As I keep telling them about it, and they actually start to understand what’s going to happen, it’s a cool experience.

“And, for me, as an alumna of the group myself, it’s nice to see people who are my age, and then also some of my former students, come back.”

The alumni will both join the Marching Rams for the parade down Lindbergh Avenue, and for the halftime show.

Some will simply march in formation, stand alongside the band or hold the Marching Rams banner, while others will pick up their old instrument, flag or pom poms and get in on the performance.

It won’t be easy to get it all organized. 

While the current Marching Rams will be able to get plenty of rehearsal in, they won’t be joined by the alumni until bright and early on the morning of the show.

“We’ll all get on the field together at about 9 in the morning for a couple hours,” Wilary said. “We’ll put the show together as a full group the morning of the actual event, and then we all walk up to Grant [Avenue] together and they’ll do the parade with us at 12:30.”

That means only a couple hours to get nearly 250 people who vary in age from their early teens to their 70s on the same page — musically and as a marching unit.

“It’s a little stressful, because you have to have everything ready for that day,” Wilary said. “Everything needs to move like clockwork on that day. We’re scheduled down to the minute, especially since it’s an early game, a 1:30 [p.m.] kickoff. So we’re like, ‘OK, we’ll see everyone at 7 a.m., we’ll have coffee and doughnuts ready for the alumni.’ We’ll be working bright and early that day.”

As for the music itself, the halftime show will consist of the current band playing a medley of “I Can See For Miles” by The Who and “Happy Together” by The Turtles, before the alumni musicians join in for Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.”

“It’s a familiar pop tune that a lot of people know,” Wilary said, “but it’s going to sound incredible with double the brass and percussion on the field.”

That music is new, but for the Marching Rams, some traditions never change. The band’s opening fanfare, and the closing performance of “Lullaby of Birdland” featuring the Majorettes in a Radio City Rockettes-inspired kick line, are signatures that date back to the 1950s.

“Everybody can do our commands together, and ‘Lullaby’ has been a staple as long as there’s been the Marching Rams,” Wilary said. “The ‘Rockettes of the Gridiron’ are just the fabric of who we are. The same thing with the fanfare opening number. It’s nice to see the things we do that are updated and fresh, and then have that blend for people to experience those foundational traditions.”

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