2023 Year-End Summary
Another year in the books for this musical institution from Westwood.
And what an incredible year it was; a year chock full of highlights…
The year began with the annual rehearsal on August 20th, which was very well attended and featured longtime UCLA band arranger Roc McNaughton, who conducted the Alumni Band in one of his many arrangements, along with a visit from the UCLA Gymnastics team and one of their new assistant coaches, Kyle Grable. The Bruin Gymnasts had the honor of conducting the final song of the rehearsal, “Sons of Westwood”, which was great fun along with the food provided afterward.
Football season started two weeks later, with the Alumni Band and everyone else in Bruin Nation enduring 105-degree heat at the Rose Bowl for the opener vs Bowling Green on September 3rd. Everybody at the game ended up surviving the scorching weather and feeling glad that the Bruins won.
The next home game was a significant highlight and an historical event in the UCLA annals;
A Historically Black College/University (HBCU) football team and its marching band – the Alabama State Hornets and the Mighty Marching Hornets from Montgomery, AL – becoming the first HBCU team and band to play UCLA and perform at the Rose Bowl. The game went the Bruins’ way by the score of 45-7, but it was those Mighty Marching Hornets, along with their accompanying dancing groups the Sensational Stingettes and the Honey-Beez, that were ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR in wowing the Bruin faithful and getting a standing ovation after their halftime performance; even the way they marched in and out of the Rose Bowl was flat-out awesome!
It certainly made for a most memorable occasion, and a real treat for the Alumni Band and the rest of the Bruin Nation to see!
After BARELY getting by South Alabama the next week, UCLA hit the Friday Night Lights with a date with 15th Ranked Washington on September 30th, the Bruins looking quite impressive in defeating the Huskies.
Visions of a Pac-12 championship started to dance in the Alumni Band and the rest of the Bruin Nation’s heads after UCLA’s exciting 42-32 triumph over defending conference champion – who would go on to repeat as Pac-12 Champs and make back-to-back trips to the Rose Bowl Game – Utah on October 8th, the visions continuing at the Homecoming game vs Stanford on October 29th.
While the Alumni Band continued to entertain and thrill the fans during their “Port-A-Sons” and their regular pre-game concerts at their tent at Lot H and at the Rose Bowl’s Court of Champions,
The Bruin footballers unfortunately suffered an inexplicable breakdown against underdog Arizona on November 12th,
And a HEARTBREAKING Crosstown Rivalry loss to USC on November 19th, the Alumni Band once again sounding great during their pre-game concerts while a last-minute interception by the Trojans sealed UCLA’s fate and most unfortunately turned the Victory Bell red, shattering their Pac-12 hopes once and for all.
A week later, on the day after Thanksgiving on November 25th, while the football team and the Bruin Marching Band were in Berkeley playing against (and defeating) Cal,
The Alumni Band got the opportunity to play at the UCLA Women’s Basketball game at Pauley Pavilion vs Jackson State. Not only did the band sound great as the Bruins won 72-60, they were much appreciated by coach Cori Close and her team, with two of her players (Kiki Rice and Gabriela Jaquez) conducting “Sons” after the game.
The Alumni Band then proceeded to help usher in a new era for UCLA Gymnastics as on December 15th they played at the “Meet the Bruins” event at Pauley, which happened to be Janelle McDonald’s unofficial debut as UCLA’s new head coach.
A great time was had by the band and the Bruin gymnasts alike, McDonald and her new coaching staff exuding an enthusiasm that hadn’t been seen at the meets in a long time.