October 2021

October 2021

Letter from the Director

Dear CMB students, family members, alumni, and supporters,

Greetings from the Cavalier Marching Band! I want to thank our new Media and Communications student committee for all their efforts leading up to this first fall 2021 newsletter. They have diligently worked with student writers in the band to share stories of members past and present, and to connect you with other content we believe you’ll enjoy reading.

I am so inspired by the spirit and passion of the CMB. During our August Band Camp we welcomed back to Grounds new and returning members. The CMB learned the full pregame show, first halftime show, and many stand tunes despite challenges from the weather and the ongoing pandemic. Many friendships were rekindled in-person for the first time since the pandemic began. Once again, we witnessed music’s ability to bring people together.

Our first three halftime shows were performed in quick succession: All Together Now, In Memoriam, and Rhythm of the Night featured a breadth of music, from Aaron Copland to Enrique Iglesias. More information about the 2021 halftime shows is here.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the programmatic vision and commitment of Bill Pease, whose many years of service at UVA laid the bedrock foundation on which we aspire to build our future. I’d also like to thank my colleagues Drew Koch, Mike Idzior, and Michael Auman for their incredible work thus far this season. Together, we are inspired by how the CMB continues to evolve to meet the challenges of the moment while spreading the spirit of the University of Virginia.

~Elliott Tackitt, Director of Bands

COVID-19 and the CMB


Masked members of the CMB cheer in the stands of Scott Stadium during a home football game. Until Sept. 16, members of the band were required to wear masks in the stands. (Photo: Tom Pajewski)

Members of the CMB drumline rest in between drum cadences at a recent home football game. Due to the risk of COVID, wind players are not permitted to play their instruments in the football stands. (Photo: Tom Pajewski)

After a year away from the CMB, I had forgotten the feeling of turf in my shoes. The little pellets never failed to find their way into my sneakers, and they always seemed to linger long after I had left Carr’s Hill Field. After a year away, I had forgotten how bad my farmer’s tan could get, and I was horrified when I went to take a shower after the first night back at band camp. After a year away, I had forgotten how much my lips could ache by the end of a long rehearsal. After a year away, despite all these little discomforts, I couldn't help but feel happy. All of these little things meant that I was back.

To some, band might seem like just an extracurricular, or even a class. However, to those in the CMB, it's so much more. It's lasting friendships, countless memories, and incredible camaraderie. In the Spring of 2020, as I unknowingly packed away my instrument for the last time, I realized I wasn't just losing my chance to play an instrument. I was also losing a second family.

During the Fall of 2020, the CMB changed drastically as the pandemic surged. Instead of meeting on Carr's Hill every Tuesday and Thursday, members met over Zoom. Two members of the CMB during this virtual year, current second-year saxophones Brandol Galicia and Matthew Spalthoff, noted that this online band experience did not provide the same community as an

in-person CMB season might have done. To Brandol, "it felt very isolating in the band building alone." For Matthew, while "it was good to still play the sax," he felt that "you need to play with people to truly feel a part of the band."

While many students like Brandol and Matthew decided to participate in the CMB virtually in 2020, other students lost interest, and many chose not to return for the 2021 season. "The band's smaller [in 2021] ... by, like, 40 people," said an anonymous student. The same student noted that "student leadership is a lot smaller" this year, as fewer marchers had enough experience with the CMB to take on a leading role in the current season.

Although many students noted the ways in which the CMB struggled during COVID, Matthew also chose to note the successes of COVID-era band by recognizing the directors' efforts. “[Dr.] Koch and [Mr.] Idzior were working their [butts] off to try and make us have a good time," he explained, "They were engaging as could be over Zoom, and you could feel their energy.”

Over the summer of 2021, Assistant Directors Koch and Idzior were joined by Dr. Elliott Tackitt, UVA's new Director of Bands. Current third-year horn Alex Wang discussed this transition and acknowledged that Dr. Tackitt's arrival "being aligned with COVID and amplified by budget cuts... makes it a hard transition." Yet, despite the COVID-related challenges which the CMB's team of directors has faced this season, the CMB has rebounded dramatically from its all-virtual season. At the time of this newsletter's publication, the band has performed three halftime shows, Painted the Town Orange, cheered on the football team, sung in sections on the bus, and tagged one another with socks in a band-wide game of "Sock Wars."

Although the band has enjoyed a somewhat normal return to the season, some restrictions on the CMB have followed the band into 2021. At the beginning of the football season, guidelines by UVA Provost Liz McGill required the band to wear masks in the stands. These guidelines also prohibited wind players from playing their instruments in the stands, stating that "the risk, based on the assessment of [UVA] medical experts, is deemed to be too high." McGill published an updated message on Sept. 16 effectively lifting the CMB's in-stand mask mandate, but did not allow wind players to play in the stands. As of October 2, "members of the CMB are strongly encouraged to wear a mask" in the stands according to McGill's instructions, but only the drumline is permitted to perform in the stands.

The CMB has not returned to complete normalcy this season, but the band has still retained its spirit of community in the face of these challenging times. Drum Major Alexa Ramirez reiterated this sentiment, stating that "it’s nowhere near the ‘normal’ marching band season we expected, but we’re together! ... Long story short: feeling grateful to be back with everyone again.”

I feel the same way.


ANDREW PANNING is a third-year double majoring in English Creative Writing and History. He is a member of the alto saxophone section and is seeking to revive the currently-extinct tenor sax section next year.

October Events


Saturday, October 16, 2021: Home Game vs. Duke

At this year's homecoming football game, we will be performing our fourth show of the season entitled "Next Episode"! The idea for “Next Episode” came about based on the amount of time spent watching TV, Netflix, Hulu, etc. during the first few months of the pandemic. With so many people clicking “Next Episode” on the remote control, the idea was born to feature an array of TV show themes that appeal to a wide audience.

CMB alumni are encouraged to join the CMB for this halftime show! Over 20 CMB alumni will perform with the CMB during this halftime show! Read more.

Saturday, October 23, 2021: Home Game vs. Georgia Tech

During the Family Weekend Halftime Show, the Cavalier Marching Band is encouraging everyone to get on their feet and sing along! The CMB begins this show with Swedish pop group ABBA, performing their hit song, Dancing Queen, which topped charts around the globe. The CMB then performs rock sensation TOTO's Africa, which hit 1 billion streams on Spotify in 2021. The Band closes the show with Whitney Houston's Wanna Dance with Somebody.

Class of 2021 CMB alumni specifically are invited to perform with the band during this halftime show! To sign up for this event, please email idzior@virginia.edu.


OLIVIA HALE is a third-year majoring in Chemistry and Music and minoring in Statistics. She is part of the drumline. In the CMB, she's a Drill Instructor, Office Staff, and is involved with the CMB Media Committee.

Overview of Past Month


With the Fall 2021 semester getting into full swing, the CMB had a busy and exciting September. The CMB had eleven full band rehearsals in which three halftime shows were rehearsed. In total, nine pieces were performed in Scott Stadium during halftime this month. In addition to these halftime performances, the marching band continued to clean the pregame show to ensure the UVA football team had a properly hype introduction for every game.

September 3, 2021 - "Paint the Town Orange"

The CMB, along with members of the football and cheerleading teams, brought the hype for the upcoming football season to the Downtown Mall at the 2021 “Paint the Town Orange” event.

The band prepped the crowd of UVA fans for the long-awaited return of in-person football games with stand tunes and beloved pregame pieces. It was a great moment for both marchers and fans, as the football season started to become a reality.

September 4, 11, and 24, 2021 - Home Football Games

The CMB attended the three home games this month. UVA faced off against William and Mary on September 4 and the CMB took the field at Scott Stadium once again. The September 4 show, “All Together Now”, included a compilation of music from Aaron Copland. On September 11, the CMB performed a tribute to the victims and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks entitled “In Memoriam” as UVA took its second home victory of the season versus Illinois. Finally, UVA faced Wake Forest on September 24. The CMB performed “Rhythm of the Night” with selections from AC/DC, Enrique Iglesias, and Ricky Martin.

Drum majors Emma Duane, Alexa Ramirez, and Andy Nguyen lead the CMB onto the field for a halftime performance. (Photo: Tom Pajewski)

Members of the CMB perform in the "Rhythm of the Night" halftime show at the Sept. 24 home game versus Wake Forest. (Photo: Tom Pajewski)

September 15, 2021 - First Giving Meeting

Dr. Tackitt, Dr. Koch, Mr. Idzior, and Assistant Director of University Arts Development Lizzy Ramey hosted the first CMB giving meeting on September 15. The directors welcomed CMB parents, alumni, and other generous supporters on Zoom and gave a presentation on the multitude of ways in which the CMB can be supported. This included volunteering time to help

out with CMB activities, spreading the word about the CMB on social media, and monetary gifts to fund the band. The CMB greatly appreciates all of the support it receives from the community. Those wishing to learn more about giving to the CMB can consult the "Supporting the CMB" section of this newsletter.

October 1, 2021 - Second Giving Meeting

The band directors hosted a second giving meeting on October 1. During the meeting, they were able to inform yet another group of alumni, parents, and other supporters about the methods of supporting the CMB. It was fantastic to see another outpouring of support from those in attendance. The CMB is incredibly grateful for the interest in supporting the band shown by our amazing community.

October 2, 2021 - Community Impact Day #1

Over the summer, CMB members expressed interest in participating in community service together. We made this possible through our first Community Impact Day, held on Saturday, October 2, during which members of the CMB performed for the residents of the Martha Jefferson House senior living community. We are happy to have given back to our community members!

Members of the CMB perform for residents of the Martha Jefferson House Senior Living Community on October 2. (Photo: Andrew Koch)

KYLE HUDGINS is a second-year student at UVA from Ashland, Virginia. He is majoring in Economics with a minor in Spanish. Kyle plays piccolo in the CMB.

HOO knew?


Dr. Tackitt has two dogs named Harley Quinn and Bruce Wayne.

Our hats are called "Aussies" and we wear them each week during our game day rehearsal. There is an ongoing debate over whether this rehearsal should be called "re-HAT-sal" or "pra-HAT-ctice."

All three of the CMB directors went to school in Michigan!

Our band room is named after the first director of the CMB, Bill Pease.

The Lenny & Larry's vegan cookies we eat at Scott Stadium pack 16 grams of protein!

A pizza drives the tuba bus.

You can follow the CMB on TikTok! @uvamarchingband


ANDREW PANNING is a third-year double majoring in English Creative Writing and History. He is a member of the alto saxophone section and is seeking to revive the currently-extinct tenor sax section next year.

Stats Corner




OLIVIA HALE is a third-year majoring in Chemistry and Music and minoring in Statistics. She is part of the drumline. In the CMB, she's a Drill Instructor, Office Staff, and is involved with the CMB Media Committee.

Alumni Corner

Editors Note: Trigger Warning. Mention of sexual violence and mental illness.
Resources for survivors of sexual violence.

Our October CMB alumni feature follows Kelly Organski Graham. Graham graduated in 2013 from the College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in Biology. She played the mellophone in the CMB. Her story is one of hope, recovery, and advocacy. We are proud to have her as an alumni of the CMB.

Kelly Graham, Col. '13. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Graham)

My CMB Story:

There is so much to share about my time in the CMB and the years since. Some of my closest friends were in the CMB. I found my career through the CMB. Truthfully, I’m not sure that I would have graduated from UVA without the CMB and Dr. Pease. Its impact has been everlasting (CW: Sexual Violence).

When I was accepted to UVA as a lifelong flutist, I took it as an opportunity to try a new instrument. At Orientation I went to the UVA Bands fair at Old Cabell, met Dr. Koch, and said, “I play flute, but I want to play a brass instrument. What do I need to do?” Koch handed me a mellophone, and said, “Welcome to the Horn section.” Mildly terrifying, 100% exciting. I spent the rest of the summer taking private lessons and could only manage a C scale by band camp.

My first year in band was incredible. I continued learning mellophone and instantly bonded with my section (#wahornwa!). They immediately became family at the University. Little did I know that family would become my saving grace.

Kelly and her section mates at a home football game. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Graham)

At the start of the spring semester of my first year, I was sexually assaulted at a fraternity party. I retreated to my dorm and only attended classes to take exams. My section members kept me afloat. My CMB family attended my classes and would come back to my dorm to relay material so that I wouldn’t fail. Their love and support were unparalleled.

In my third year, I continued to suffer from PTSD. I had frequent panic attacks, and I was barely making it through my coursework. With the fall semester about to begin, I asked to speak privately with Dr. Pease. I told him I couldn’t continue with the CMB, no matter how much I loved it. In tears, I told Pease what had happened and how I wasn’t coping well. He listened without judgment. He shared my tears. Without hesitation, he offered support, and reminded me how much members of the CMB support each other. He pledged to do everything he could to help, including offering me a position in the front office. He said, “This way, you’ll have a place that you can come for at least a few hours every week, without judgment, where you know that you are safe, believed, and loved. I don’t want you to feel like you have to give up something that brings you so much joy.”

Pease’s offer was a catalyst for me in my journey of healing as a survivor. I joined a sexual violence prevention organization on Grounds and became an advocate for survivors of sexual and domestic violence, something I continue to do to this day. I joined leadership within the CMB and was awarded DI of the Year my fourth year. My front office position led to a development internship with what is now the College Foundation. Through that internship, I helped support the CMB’s Marching into the Future campaign and was introduced to the world of higher education advancement, which has been my career focus for the past eight years.

Through the CMB I made lifelong friends. I also found my path, my voice, my confidence, and my passion. I am forever indebted. This is part of the reason why I joined the Cavalier Marching Band Alumni Association Board of Directors last year, and I am looking forward to helping the organization continue to connect alumni, students, parents, and friends while facilitating increased support for the CMB.

Finally, I am thrilled to have returned to Charlottesville just a couple of months ago to serve as Associate Director of Development for University Priorities. In my position, I have the privilege to support the presidential priorities of the Honor the Future campaign. As a scholarship recipient myself, I am passionate about access and affordability in higher education, and much of my role focuses on just that—increasing need-based scholarship support so that all students are afforded equitable opportunity to attend UVA. Daily, I am blown away by the people around me—students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank Hunter Smith for her remarkable generosity to the CMB and for her impact on my life. Her leadership and philanthropy inspire me in my role as a young advancement professional. Without Mrs.

Smith’s kindness and support of the CMB, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I am grateful beyond words. And it is such a joy to be here today—not just surviving but thriving.


GABRIELA NICULESCU is a First Year majoring in Physics and minoring in Materials Science and Engineering. She plays the clarinet and is a member of the CMB Media and Communications Team. Go Hoos!

High School Corner


What does a typical schedule for a CMB member look like?

During our marching season, we rehearse drill and music from 6:00-8:15 PM every Tuesday and Thursday. On home game weeks, we have an additional rehearsal on Fridays from 6:30-8:45 PM. The color guard and drumline sections have one additional rehearsal per home football game. The full band also rehearses the day of every home football game, typically five hours before kickoff (Don't worry, we aren't rehearsing the whole time. That number includes a meal, changing into uniforms, and transportation to the stadium).

The CMB also performs at a number of events that aren't the typical football game. During this season alone, the band has performed at the Farmington Country Club, marched in the Paint the Town Orange parade in Downtown Charlottesville, and played at a Wahoo Welcome event for first-year UVA students. These events are announced to the band membership far in advance, so don't worry about cramming these into your schedule!

Is it difficult to balance schoolwork and band?

"I think of band as a place to use my brain and body differently than I do in school or in research... I think band was exactly what I needed in my schedule!"

          -Gabriela Niculescu, First-Year, Physics major and Materials Science minor

"I think band is fairly easy to balance in with classwork ... Making use of free time during the day to get work done is really important so that you don't end up with a ton of work after rehearsals. Getting home around 9:00 PM with a mountain of work to do is not fun."

          -Kyle Hudgins, Second-Year, Economics major

"I think doing both [band and schoolwork] makes me better at both. When I'm at band, I'm thinking of what I can do in the moment to make the most progress in that rehearsal; when I'm studying, I'm thinking of how efficiently I can get my work done. Overall I think I waste less time!"

          -Olivia Hale, Third-Year, Chemistry and Music double major, Statistics minor

"The only times I have had trouble balancing schoolwork and band are times when I don't dedicate myself to what I'm doing in the moment. If I come to a CMB rehearsal thinking, 'I should be studying instead of rehearsing,' I'm less likely to be focused on rehearsal. The same goes for studying and thinking 'I should be rehearsing instead.' Remember that there's a time and place for everything and you will do great!"

          -Andrew Panning, Third-Year, History and English double major

What might come as a surprise to someone entering the CMB as a first-year?

The CMB is unique in that it performs a new, memorized show each home game week. All music and drill memorization for a new show typically occurs after we perform the previous show at a football game, meaning we can have anywhere from 1-4 weeks to prepare for the next performance. It all depends on the football schedule, as bye-weeks and away game weeks allow for extra rehearsal time. Even though this short turnaround time might seem overwhelming, don't let this deter you from joining the CMB! We have LOTS of fun at rehearsals, and every member will tell you that the hard work pays off.

Another fact about the CMB is that we have fun outside of band rehearsals! During band camp, every section competes to win Section Olympics through challenges like scavenger hunts and karaoke contests. In the early fall, we pit band member against band member in an assassin-style game of Sock Wars. These games and other fun events are often sponsored by the UVA band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi, and band sorority, Tau Beta Sigma.

Where can I find more information about the CMB as a high school student?

We encourage you to follow, like, or add us on our social media pages by using this LinkTree.

We also suggest that you check out our high school-specific content on Snapchat (@uvamarchingband), which includes weekly section takeovers and opportunities to ask questions to students!

If you ever have any specific questions about the CMB, feel free to email bands@virginia.edu so a band director can get in touch with you.


ABBY KUPSTAS is a first-year majoring in Youth & Social Innovation. She is a member of the CMB's saxophone section and is involved in the CMB Media Committee. She also runs the Instagram account for the saxophone section (@uvasaxophones) and hopes you drop a follow!

Student Successes


Photo courtesy of Joshua Franklin

Joshua Franklin, Fourth-year Aerospace Engineering major and Architecture minor

This summer Joshua Franklin, fourth year snare drum player on the drumline, held an engineering internship working in hypersonics at Lockheed Martin GNC. If you have not yet heard of it, Lockheed Martin GNC is an aerospace engineering company that builds planes for the Navy and Air Force. Some of their most famous works include the SR-71 Blackbird, the F-22, F-23, and the Orion. Josh’s tasks included work in hardware, software, and avionics. More specifically he did guidance and navigation control on the AGM-183a hypersonic project. Josh most enjoyed hanging out with other interns and having Fridays off work. Of the experience he says, “Definitely a big move going out of state for an internship, but an amazing opportunity to meet doctors, astronauts, pilots, and new friends”.


Photo courtesy of Carlos Rodriguez

Carlos Rodriguez, Fourth-year Cognitive Science major with Neuroscience concentration and Biology minor

Carlos Rodriguez is a fourth year tuba player who received the Harrison Grant to conduct research on aniridia this summer. Aniridia is a neurodevelopmental disease that causes cerebral and other whole body malformations. Specifically, Carlos’s lab was studying the aspects of the disease that affect children through loss of the iris in their eyes. They tracked the progression of the disease by monitoring neuron subtypes survival patterns in order to understand how neurons change with the disease. The goal of this is to determine which neurons are most at risk since neurons cannot be restored once they are lost. Once this is determined, they can work towards identifying potential therapeutic effects and their targets. Carlos worked on three different projects in his lab. The first focused on drug treatment to test drug delivery systems in effort to restore healthy eyes. The second worked on visualization in vivo with a new imaging system that uses visible light to scan the back of eyes at a higher resolution. The third project consisted of morphological analyses where he viewed retinal substructures using retina staining to determine if sublayers of the retina had been disrupted, and if so, how. Carlos says he most enjoyed “being able to take ownership of [his] own project”.


Photo courtesy of Avrie Sauer

Avrie Sauer, Fourth-year Biology major with Conservation Specialization and Anthropology minor

This summer, fourth-year trumpet player Avrie Sauer worked as the communications intern for the Right Whale Festival. The Right Whale Festival is partnered with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and NOAA Fisheries to hold an annual festival in November to celebrate the migration of North Atlantic right whales through their waters. North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered with less than 400 whales remaining. They face many threats, primarily vessel strikes, entanglement by fishing gear, and climate change. The festival works to promote conservation efforts and raise awareness of how everyone can contribute to their protection.

Avrie aided in these efforts by posting on the Right Whale Festival’s social media accounts and contributing to other such projects. She began her internship by conducting research on right whales, collecting information, photos, and videos to add to the festival’s website. She then began drafting posts for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote the festival, educate about right whales, and thank exhibitors and sponsors for their efforts. Avrie was also able to attend two of the monthly festival planning meetings during the duration of her internship. Of the experience, Avrie said her favorite part was knowing her work was going towards something she cared about. She encourages everyone, “Come to the Right Whale Festival November 6th-7th at Amelia Island, FL to help save the whales." See you there!


AVRIE SAUER is a fourth year biology major specializing in conservation with a minor in anthropology. She is a proud member of the trumpet section, Tau Beta Sigma, and the Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Supporting the CMB

For over 200 years, UVA has prepared students to lead through knowledge. One of the largest and most visible ensembles on grounds is the Cavalier Marching Band. Since 2004, the CMB has worn UVA Orange and Blue, embodying the spirit of the University’s founding vision of discovery, innovation, and development of the full potential of our talented students.

300 strong, the CMB boasts membership from 25 states and nearly every academic program at UVA!

We constantly work to improve the student experience for our marchers. Our supporters are families, alumni, and advocates who believe the Cavalier Marching Band makes a lasting impact in the lives of its members. Please consider making a gift today to support the mission of the Cavalier Marching Band

We currently have a vast community of supporters already giving back to the CMB, with our Sept. 15 and Oct. 1 benefactor meetings being attended by over 90 participants! Giving back to the CMB allows you to join an already large community of supporters.

Ways to Give

Online: Click here to make a secure donation to the CMB today! By Mail: Please make checks payable to

UVA - Cavalier Marching Band And send to:

University of Virginia P.O. Box 37963 Boone, Iowa 50037

By Phone: Call University Advancement Services at 434-924-7018 By Text: Coming soon!

Amplify Your Support

Set-up monthly payments: Set-up automatic monthly payments to support the CMB! Go to this page, select ‘recurring gift’ and follow the instructions.

Corporate Matching Gifts: Many companies encourage their employees to make charitable contributions by matching their philanthropic support. The impact of corporate matching support can be transformative. For more information, visit this website or call University Advancement Services at 434-924-7018.

Gifts of Securities, Stocks, or Bonds: You can support the CMB through these alternative giving methods. Learn more by clicking here.

Planned Giving: Planned gifts include life-income opportunities, estate gifts, and other financial planning arrangements that can be beneficial to the donor and to the University. Learn more online at UVA’s Gift Planning Website.


Please contact the band office at bands@virginia.edu. Thank you for your continued support!