Inside Inauguration: Countdown to October 16

When the conductor lifts his baton to start the music that signals the inauguration processional, what will you hear? Music that evokes Ursinus past and present.

Behind the music, there is history. The processional and recessional are important Ursinus Wind Ensemble repertoire pieces featuring melodies presented in a march-like fashion, Michael Bratt, assistant visiting professor of music, explains. “These pieces often accompany formal occasions and, as such, we thought it was a natural fit for the Inaugural entry and exit.” The pieces are by Wagner, Holst and Vaughn-Williams.

About midway through the ceremony, he will again strike up the band. The Wind Ensemble will offer the Ursinus March and Two-Step, written by Samuel Stephens. “We were looking for a piece that would be germane to Ursinus,” he says. “This march is in full (John Philip) Sousa style and accompanies the other marches that we began and ended with,” he said.

College archivist Carolyn Weigel said that information on Stephens is scant, but the library holds the original sheet music dated 1899 and published in Norristown. On the cover of the sheet music is a photo of the Ursinus Glee and Mandolin Clubs taken in 1899.  The Ursinus March was performed by the Mandolin Club in their annual home concert on May 13, 1899, in Bomberger. Stephens had performed at Ursinus and his compositions were played on campus on various occasions including a trombone solo on Dec. 15, 1898, at a Schaff Literary Anniversary.

And perhaps there is another connection to Ursinus: The Norristown census records show he was born in 1869, the same year Ursinus was founded. 

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