This year’s graduation will be different in many ways. It will be the first graduation ceremony since the pandemic. The number of guests is limited to two per student; however, a live stream will be available to those left off the guest list.
The music setup, too, will be different. While the Mercyhurst Athletic Band generally plays at the ceremony, they are not able to do so this year with social distancing guidelines. They will play a recording of the band instead.
Co-director Brian Gresh said he does not know whether the organizers will prefer audio or audio-visual of the band at graduation.
However, band director and co-directors Shawn Preston and Gresh still wish to keep as many original elements as possible, including the adult instrumentalists brought in from the community.
Gresh said they decided not to bring any local musicians onto campus and instead will recruit faculty and staff who play instruments instead.
So far, two faculty members showed interest to play along with the band. Former band director Robert Reid volunteered to play Tuba, and Ms. Tina Fryling from the Criminal Justice Department will play Trombone.
In many ways, a student-faculty collaboration brings the sense of normalcy that the hybrid or virtual class setting did not, allowing students to work with their professors and vice versa.
The recording will play for the Procession and Recession through the entire ceremony. This year, students received a block of time during the day based on which program they will graduate from, starting the morning of 16 May.
The band will play Procession of the Noble as students enter and Redezski March as they exit. Gresh said these pieces are “ceremonial in nature” and have become a tradition at Mercyhurst graduation ceremonies.
The Mercyhurst Athletic Band found a way to work around limitations on social gathering and distancing to still “play” at graduation. If any faculty or staff play instruments and would like to contribute to graduation this Spring, the band would happily accept them.
The Mercyhurst Athletic Band plays at most home sporting events, with a traveling pep band for both hockey and basketball. In light of the pandemic, band participation ceased, and spectators have just been allowed back into Mercyhurst games.
Graduation will be the first event the band prepares for in more than a year, even though they never stopped practicing the music.
Student band members are eager to play at games and support student-athletes again, hopefully, to happen in the Fall.