Band loyalty keeps Notre Dame director from Olympic moment

by Notre Dame News

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)- After spending 18 months preparing a musical composition for the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Olympic Games, Kenneth Dye knows the right place to be when the finished product is played— in South Bend preparing his band for the Notre Dame football game.p. Dye is the director of the Notre Dame band. When he learned the opening ceremonies, which are Friday, would conflict with Saturday’s Notre Dame home game, he decided not to abandon his responsibilities.p. “It was my choice to stay in town,” Dye said. “I’m trying to show my commitment to the band. By being here I’m setting an example. (The university) wanted me to go, but they don’t know what’s involved in trying to prepare a marching band.”p. Preparing the music for the opening ceremonies involved quite a bit. Dye first received a request to arrange and compose a short band number for the opening ceremonies in Sydney, Australia. His final product, however, is a 10-minute opening band show and an hour-and-a-half-long parade composition that incorporates 42 works and will be performed by 2,000 musicians.p. Dye was assistant band director for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, a position that helped him secure his Sydney involvement. Paul Johnson, chairman of Notre Dames music department, was involved in Dyes hiring at the school in 1998. He says that the reasons the university liked Dye as a director were probably the same reasons he was asked to create music for the Olympics.p. “I think what impressed me the most was his previous professional success in arranging,” Johnson said.p. According to Johnson, Dye also has a knack for working with large events and possesses the ability to manage large numbers of people. And he’s doing it between continents, which is a feat in itself. Dr. Luther Snavely Jr., the university’s previous director of bands and Dye’s former boss, agrees.p. “That’s a very large, unwieldy group,” said Snavely, referring to the 2,000 high-school age band members who will be performing Dyes works in Sydney. “It’s difficult to make music unless the arrangements are really tailored for such a thing.”p. Dye and Snavely first met in 1988, when Dye was still teaching in Houston at Rice University, for which he held the position of director of bands for 17 years. At that time, Snavely asked Dye if he would consider arranging some music for the Notre Dame band.p. “The reason that we used his arrangements is that he has the great ability to write music that is interesting but not so complex and difficult that it can’t be learned quickly,” Snavely said.p. Dye said meeting the needs of the opening ceremonies was difficult. For example, his 90-minute Parade of Athletes piece, which will be played as the athletes enter the stadium, had to take into account the physical limitations of the performers, who are pulled from every continent except Antarctica.p. “That was part of my job, to vary the technical demands so that they aren’t all playing at the same time,” Dye said.p. He noted that the parade piece will be the longest continuous marching band performance that’s ever been performed by a marching band or written for a marching band. And it’s the largest band, which is not a compilation of bands, ever assembled for one event.p. Given the commitment he’s devoted to this project, Dye said he is disappointed that he won’t be present for the live event. And he’s a little anxious about the performance, which he plans to videotape.p. “I’ll probably be too nervous (to watch it),” he said. “My mother is going to be here; maybe she’ll watch it with us.”p.

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