Marching band gets new leader

By Danielle Stoppelmann, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 23, 2013

John Pasquale, assistant director of bands and associate director of marching and athletic bands, was named Wednesday as the next director of Michigan Marching and Athletics Bands, the Band announced on its Facebook page Wednesday.

Pasquale will replace Scott Boerma, who resigned from the position on Jan. 8. to accept a position as director of bands at Western Michigan University, his alma mater. Pasquale will also assume the position of associate director of bands and Donald R. Shepherd chair in conducting.

In the Facebook statement, Director of Bands Michael Haithcock said Pasquale was a qualified candidate for the position and looks forward to Pasquale's accomplishments in the new position.

“During the past five years, John has proven himself to be a person with the necessary musical and leadership skills for this important appointment, and I am delighted that the University of Michigan will continue to benefit from his ongoing service to our campus and musical community,” Haithcock said.

As a tuba player for Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, Pasquale said he never imagined being a director for such a respected marching band.

“I was trying to figure out my career,” Pasquale said. “My family was pushing me to do business, but I’ve always had my heart and my soul push me towards the study of music and being a teacher. That’s just who I am, and I’m proud of it.”

Pasquale, who has been the University’s assistant director of bands for five years, studied music education as an undergraduate student at Texas Christian University. He received a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in conducting from the University of Oklahoma.

Pasquale said he didn’t expect a promotion, which was first privately discussed about two weeks ago after the Outback Bowl.

“I was shocked, I was in awe, and I was exhilarated,” Pasquale said. “(It is) such an exciting piece of information; I’ll tell you — I was just thrilled.”

Pasquale added that because he is close friends with Boerma, the change in leadership should be a “seamless” transition. He does not intend on making any real changes to the way the band performs, which he said is already quite respectable.

“The performance standards are so high and the tradition and legacy are so great,” Pasquale said. “I just hope that I can maintain those while trying to incorporate a couple things that will keep us current and modern.”

Pasquale said he will consider input from band members, donors and the Athletic Department as he takes his new post.

“In the past five years I have relied heavily on the feedback and guidance of our students … for their creative ideas and creative outlets,” Pasquale said. “The students here are smarter than any I’ve encountered anywhere. The talent level on this campus — the work ethic, drive, and professionalism — sets all kinds of standards. There is no better place on earth, I truly believe that. I am so excited to be able to stay at a place I love.”

LSA sophomore Jacob Swanson, a trumpet player, said the marching band members in attendance at a meeting Wednesday burst into applause after Haithcock announced the new band director. Swanson added that Pasquale was “the perfect choice” for the position.

“The fact that he was the assistant director of bands makes it a really natural and smooth transition because he had Dr. Boerma to help him along with the transition,” Swanson said. “He knows the tradition of the marching band, and I think he has a lot of great ideas in store for making it innovative and bringing new qualities to the band to add on to its already great legacy.”

LSA freshman Matt Cloutier, also a trumpet player, said he wasn’t surprised to hear Pasquale was named director.

“He is incredible leader and really does a good job with connecting with the kids,” Cloutier said.

Engineering sophomore Elayne Thomas, a piccolo player, said Pasquale will bring “a new outlook” to the band. She added that his previous experience gives him insight into “how the band runs and what motivates us.”

“I knew that he would definitely make a great band director and he would instantly adjust to the position,” Thomas said. “I think he has more attention to the details of music — more than Dr. Boerma did — so I think that will overall increase our sound out on the field and when we’re sitting.”

Pasquale will assume the new position June 1.

Follow Danielle on Twitter at @dstoppelmann.