“It’s been…a busy week. Thank you to all the Buckeye supporters.”
The band’s announcer hesitated in his introduction, but it was met with the applause and cheering from supporters who came out to see the Ohio State Marching Band perform with the Columbus Symphony at Picnic with the Pops Friday night.
The concert, held at Columbus Commons Bicentennial Pavilion, was the marching band’s first performance since Thursday’s announcement that head director Jonathan Waters had been terminated. The announcement came in light of a 23-page investigation report that found the band’s culture was “an environment conducive to sexual harassment,” according to a released statement from President Michael Drake Thursday.
Waters’ name still appeared next to Columbus Symphony conductor Albert-George Schram at the top of the program. The director’s podium, however, served as a revolving door for the conductors after the band marched and was situated on stage.
University Bands director Russel Mikkelson, Schram and other guest conductors passed the baton to each other throughout the band’s set list, which included the themes to “The Magnificent Seven” and “Superman,” Puccini’s ballad “Nessun Dorma” and OSU signatures “Hang On Sloopy,” “Across the Field,” “Le Regiment de Sambre et Meuse” and “Carmen Ohio,” among other tunes.
The band then blended with the symphony on six selections, closing the concert with John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
The audience, which included friends and family of various band members, fans of the OSU marching band, band alumni and Columbus Symphony Orchestra supporters, filled the lawn from side-to-side.
Susan Runyan, an OSU alumna from Pickerington attended Friday’s Picnic with the Pops and said she and her husband, John, are “totally behind the marching band.”
“(The marching band’s performance Friday) shows what a class act they are and they knew they had made this commitment, and they still fully represent this university,” Susan Runyan, who was a former member of the marching band, said.
“I was in (the band) about seven years after women started being in the band, and I always felt special as a woman member of the band. I felt like I had 200 big brothers.”
Others who attended the concert wanted to show their support for the marching band but maintained mixed feelings about the recent scandal.
The findings of the investigation, which are posted on an OSU website, detailed various instances of abuse between band students and directors. Examples include an annual band practice in Ohio Stadium that Waters attended where students were expected to march in only their underwear, new band members being given sexually explicit nicknames and a case where a female student was told to imitate a sexual act on laps of band members.
“My roommate loves being in the band, and it’s a good tradition for the school, but (the findings of the investigation) could have a negative impact on the university,” said Derrick Cupps, a Spring 2014 OSU graduate with a degree in communication who was at the concert to support his roommate in the marching band.
Caitlin Baer, an OSU student studying biology who attended the concert, said she felt Waters didn’t have a chance to prove himself.
“It’s really hard to stop old traditions, and I feel like (Waters) did a lot of really good things for (OSU),” Baer said. “And I can tell you, I know for sure, that half the stuff that was in that report is not as bad as what the fraternities and sororities do on campus.”
The marching band is set to play with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Saturday night as well.
Baer said she thinks these performances are stressful for the marching band in light of the national attention.
“I’m glad that it’s still happening, though. I mean, we are ‘the best damn band in the land.’”