by Mary Liz Flavin | news editor
March 17, 2022
On Saturday, March 12, the streets of Pittsburgh were lined with people dressed in green, white and gold in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This 150-year-old tradition has revived after the last two years were canceled due to Covid-19. As the Pittsburgh Parade Committee says, the parade goes “rain, snow or shine,” and this year was no exception with snow conditions.
The parade featured many organizations such as Irish dancers, military, community organizations and orchestras including Duquesne’s Brass Band. James Gourlay, music director at Duquesne, was approached by St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers to see if any of the bands he leads would be interested in participating in the parade.
According to Gourlay, on the day of the show, many marching band students were excited, but faced challenges along the way, including the cold.
“We had a great time, a time to build team spirit, camaraderie and pure fun. The parade was quite long, so we all got “jelly legs” at the end. Especially me! I was playing tuba,” Gourlay said. “Plus, we were really, really cold. It was so cold that some brass valves froze and couldn’t be moved.
Other Duquesne students who participated in the parade agreed that while the parade conditions made it difficult to play, they still had good experiences. Donny White, a music education student, played flugelhorn.
“I think the group performed really well once we warmed up,” White said. “Dr. Gourlay was counting us from the snorkel line at the back of the group. It was hard to hear him because of the volume of the crowd. At one point he counted us out and we didn’t hear, only tubas played.
Along their route, the band played the classic Irish march, “Star of Erin” by Gerry Horabin.
Julia Lawrence, a major in music education, overcame some difficulties playing the trumpet.
“I had bad luck with my frozen valves. Due to the extremely cold temperatures, most of our instruments were flat,” Lawrence said.
Despite the challenges, Lawrence said she remembered a group of Pitt students shouting that they liked the trumpet. Lawrence said she considered it a highlight of the show.
It wasn’t just the band that made the parade a success, freshman graduate student in music performance; Allen Fry, was responsible for organizing banners for the trailer and candy to be given out to the crowd.
“It was fun for all of us to hear the spectators cheering us on as we marched,” Fry said. “We hope to do it again next year and increase Duquesne’s presence in the parade.
Gourlay shared the same sentiment as he led the orchestra through the parade, lending a hand with his tuba.
“The parade was a great opportunity to bring Duquesne’s name to the public and to see and hear the newly formed marching band. The students who participated will definitely have something to remember for the rest of their lives and it was great to hear the alumni cheering us on,” Gourlay said.