School of Mines band taking a Roman holiday

CSM also performing at the National Western Stock Show


This week, the Colorado School of Mines’ marching band is taking its act out of the country for only the second time in its 108-year history.

The destination? Rome, where a mix of around 80 current band members and alumni will march through the city in front of an expected crowd of half-a-million people as part of the Italian capital’s annual New Year’s Day parade.

The parade will begin at the Castel Sant’Angelo, a large historic building in central Rome, and continue about half a mile to St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City, where Pope Francis will come out to bless the new year. It was, in part, the unique chance to witness that blessing at the start of not just a new year but a new decade that led the band to choose to participate in the parade, which it has been invited to march in for the past three years.

“It takes on kind of a new essence because it’s the end of the decade,” said, Bob Klimek, the band’s director. “In a sense the Pope is coming out to bless the next decade and the end of this one and it’s kind of a reflective time.”

The visit to Rome comes on the heels of the band’s first ever overseas performance in Dublin, Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade three years ago. Participating in such events is important, Klimek said, because it gives the band’s performers what Klimek describes as a signature experience that defines the band’s members as more than engineering students.

“When we did Ireland the interesting thing was the students found out there is really a difference between watching a parade and being in it with people responding to you,” Klimek said. “The experience is really about being able to activate the crowd and fill them with a little bit of song and movement.”

However, the trip will also provide enrichment beyond the parade itself as the students will also spend time visiting cities around Italy during the trip, including Pisa, Siena and Florence. The latter will likely be a particular highlight for many of the engineering-focused students as the students will be visiting that city’s Leonardo Da Vinci museum, where they will view models of Da Vinci’s inventions.

“I’m really looking forward to being able to go there and see all of these famous things that I’ve read about and learned so much about,” said Jack Icke, a senior in the band’s drum line. “I’m really into history and architectural styles and Italy and Rome are the pinnacle of those things.”

The trip to Italy will serve as the kickoff to a busy month for the band, which is officially called the History Arts Social Sciences Colorado School of Mines Marching Band.

Just a couple of weeks after the return from Rome, the band is going to the National Western Stock Show in Denver to perform during “An Evening of Dancing Horses,” an event that combines dressage with band music. Those shows will take place at 7 p.m. on Jan. 22 and 23 at the National Western Events Center. A portion of the ticket sale proceeds will go to the school.

“I think performances like these serve as a really nice reminder to the community that Mines is more than just computational robotics and that we actually do create beautiful things and are internationally recognized for our band music our choir music our theater performances,” Icke said.


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