December 15, 2016
Guin Robinson and Tim Parker December 15, 2016 | Shannon Thomason

The UAB Marching Blazers are preparing for the return of football in fall 2017 by fundraising for a new look. Typically, band uniforms get replaced every 5-7 years. The Marching Blazers’ uniforms are almost 15 years old. New uniforms have been designed, and a prototype recently arrived in the band office. The Marching Blazers Fund for Excellence has raised nearly $50,000 toward its $70,000 goal. Support the Marching Blazers with an online donation

A performance at the Vatican will be the culmination of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marching Blazers’ fall 2016 marching season. The Marching Blazers will travel to Italy on Dec. 27 to march in the Rome New Year’s Day Parade, organized by the Community of Saint Egidio.

Each year on Jan. 1, tens of thousands gather in St. Peter’s Square, filling the streets with pageantry and music to celebrate and receive the Pope’s New Year’s Day blessing. A focal point of Rome’s holiday season and the World Day of Peace, the Rome New Year’s Parade celebrates life, cultural diversity and international goodwill.

The Marching Blazers will perform two selections for the parade, the “Back to the Future” theme from its 2016 “Hollywood” show and part of a marching band version of the “New World Symphony” by Antonin Dvorak.

Three faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Music, Assistant Director of Bands Cara Morantz, Ed.D., Director of Choral Activities Brian Kittredge, DMA, and Chair of the Department of Music Patrick Evans, D.M., as well as band staff members, will accompany the 65 students to Italy, where they will visit Milan, Pisa, Florence and Rome.

In Milan, they will visit Scala Museum, explore the city center and spend the night. They will take a walking tour and spend a night in Pisa. On Dec. 30, the group will travel to Florence for a guided walking tour including stops at the Piazza Del Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria. The group also will visit Accademia Museum to see the famous Michelangelo statue “David.”

In Rome, the group will tour the city center, take a walking tour of Vatican museums including St Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Square before participating in the parade. The Rome New Year’s Parade is a European-style parade that proceeds along the grand Via della Conciliazione and culminates in St. Peter’s Square. In keeping with the Italian tradition, enthusiastic spectators fall into step alongside bands, showing their appreciation with whistles and waves.

Each year, more than 100,000 people from all over the world travel to St. Peter’s Square before the Pope’s annual New Year’s address and blessing. Participants include military, civic and school marching bands and auxiliary units. The Marching Blazers were invited last year by the Community of San Egidio.

After the parade and the next day, the group will tour Rome, including the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, and take an ancient Rome tour, including the Colosseum, Capitoline Hill, Citadel of ancient Rome, the Tarpeian Rock and Trastevere.

Follow the UAB Marching Blazers on Twitter at @MarchingBlazers and on the UAB Department of Music’s Facebook page.