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UAB dominates international band competition
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Marching Blazers Band won the International Band Competition held in Limerick, Ireland, Monday, March 18, 2013.
The Marching Blazers were invited to Ireland by the mayor of Dublin to perform in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday.
The group of 120 band members left Dublin early Monday for the two-hour drive to Limerick, where they competed against 17 other international bands, including bands from Germany, Canada, Italy and the United States.
After a cold, rainy and sleeting Sunday in Dublin, the band members shed their rain ponchos and showed off their green and gold uniforms on a sunny Monday in Limerick, said Director Sue Samuels, Ph.D.
“The street was lined five-to-ten people deep on both sides throughout the duration of the one-mile parade, and the crowd was friendly and excited, clapping and cheering the band along,” Samuels said. “As we paraded the street, the local townspeople wanted to reach out and give our students waves and high-fives.”
The band played the UAB Fight Song, “Land of 1,000 Dances” and “Can You Feel It.”
“During the parade the crowd was great. That’s surprising considering they didn’t know us. A few in the crowd screamed ‘Roll Tide Roll.’ It was the biggest crowd ever and they all screamed and clapped,” comments trombone player John Dewberry.
“When we reached the grand stand, we stopped before the lord mayor of Limerick and other local dignitaries for a standstill performance, getting the crowd to clap along, before moving on to finish the parade,” Samuels said.
The Marching Blazers were awarded a crystal bowl trophy to bring home to Birmingham for being named Best International Band. Following the parade, all of the participating bands, including some Irish bands, gathered in the town square in a celebration of music and shared cultures.
“I didn’t care for all of the cultures, because it’s a very old country. But, it was cool,” comments Dewberry
The band raised more than $100,000 to make the trip; each member also paid $1,500 for the ground package. While in Ireland, they toured Dublin, saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral and visited Trinity College. They also went to the 13th century Bunratty Castle in Limerick, to Galway, the Cliffs of Moher and County Cork. The band is scheduled to return to Birmingham Thursday, March 21.
Additional reporting by Carlene Robinson.