One of the most exciting programs of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma, begun nearly seventy years ago, is the National Intercollegiate Band. This ensemble continues to make a significant contribution to the advancement of the collegiate band. Open to all qualified musicians, whether or not they are members of the Fraternity or Sorority, the NIB brings members face-to-baton with some of the most dynamically stimulating composers and respected conductors in America. Dr. F. Lee Bowling, Kappa Kappa Psi National President (Alpha Iota) from 1941-1947, is regarded as the Founder of the National Intercollegiate Band.
The NIB was Bowling’s cherished idea and through the years he worked to develop a plan that firmly established the organization as a national service project for the Fraternity and Sorority. Bowling had placed his belief in such an organization on the results of the intercollegiate band which had been held since 1933 by the colleges and universities of the Rocky Mountain area. Each college sent representatives to a chosen place where much time and effort was given to the preparation of a concert. These concerts were sponsored by the chapters of Kappa Kappa Psi. The success of this movement gained headway to some extent before the war and district intercollegiate band concerts were held in the states of Oklahoma and Ohio. He presented such a plan to the Tenth National Convention at Corvallis, Oregon, in August, 1941. It received the endorsement of the convention and a promise was made to have the first National Intercollegiate Band at the next National Convention.
However, due to the Declaration of War and subsequent changes in the nation, the national conventions scheduled for 1943 and 1945 were not held. In fact, ninety percent of all fraternity chapters became inactive and only five chapters were able to remain active throughout this period. After the close of the war Bowling revived his plans and started to build an intercollegiate band which would perform as part of the 14th Biennial Convention in 1947 at Oklahoma A and M College (now Oklahoma State University) in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
The first NIB featured 125 select student musicians from more than 16 colleges. The program from this concert featured eleven musical selections and ten different conductors — including Bowling, Charles Wiley, Hugh E. McMillen, J. Lee Burke, William A. Scroggs, and Dr. Bohumil Makovsky. The concert opened with John Philip Sousa’s famous march, Semper Fidelis, always faithful. In the words of Dr. Bowling:
“The 1947 National Intercollegiate Band had been in the planning stages for many years. Actually, the prototype of this national venture had been well established. This was the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Band which rendered the first concert by an intercollegiate band in Macky Auditorium at the University of Colorado in February, 1933. The Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Band gave five concerts in Colorado in 1933 and represented six colleges — the University of Colorado, University of Denver, Colorado College, University of Northern Colorado, Colorado State University, and Colorado School of Mines. These Intercollegiate Bands continued as a great musical experience during the spring terms, the last concert being given during Music Week each year in the Denver Auditorium with a KOA broadcast. The University of Utah was also represented at the Music Week concert in 1933. The University of Wyoming became a regular participant in 1934. The first concert following the interruption caused by World War II was at the University of Northern Colorado. During the post-war years District Intercollegiate Bands have played an important role at a few district confabs.”
Dr. Bowling’s patient, competent, and concerned guidance also secured for the Sorority the necessary action taken by Kappa Kappa Psi to include Tau Beta Sigma in its national programs of service to bands. The National Convention of 1947 was the first convention that established mutual cooperation and shared concerns between the Fraternity and the Sorority. The Kappa Kappa Psi delegates voted to accept Tau Beta Sigma as a sister organization, and extended in perpetuity to the new Sorority the courtesy of sharing in all of its publications and in the NIB program. In 1949, Dr. William Revelli served as guest conductor for the Second National Intercollegiate Band with the final concert being presented at the Red Rocks Amphitheater near Denver before an audience of over 10,000 people. Revelli would again serve as conductor of the NIB in 1971 — the only conductor in the history of the NIB to serve twice.
At the 1997 National Convention, Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the National Intercollegiate Band. The 1997 National Intercollegiate Band was conducted by Professor John L. Whitwell, Director of Bands at Michigan State University. Renowned composer John Zdechlik conducted the premiere performance of the 1997 commissioned work, entitled Rondo Jubiloso. Alan Bonner, National Executive Director of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma and former Commander and Conductor of the United States Air Force Band, served as guest conductor. Colonel Bonner conducted John Philip Sousa’s Semper Fidelis, which was the first selection on the program of the first National Intercollegiate Band in 1947.
The 1999 National Intercollegiate Band Concert was conducted by Dr. David A. Waybright from the University of Florida. The concert featured the world premier of two exciting pieces: Unusual Behavior in Ceremonies Involving Drums by Daniel Bukvich, the 1999 Commisioned Composer, and From This Wilderness. . ., a KKY commissioned work, by Roland Barrett. The later was conducted by the Kappa Kappa Psi National President and Director of Bands at Iowa State University Dr. Michael Golemo. Other selections included The Thunderer, John Philip Sousa; Symphony on Themes of John Philip Sousa, Mvt. II, Ira Hearshen; Pineapple Poll Suite from the Ballet, Mackerras-Duthoit, arranged by Arthur Sullivan; Blue Shades, Frank Ticheli; and Chester Overture for Band, William Schuman.