The talented and dedicated cadets associated with the Institute’s music programs—e.g., such as the Regimental Band and the Glee Club—are among VMI’s most travelled representatives.
Since 1988, for example, the Band has participated in New York City’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade six times and made thirteen Mardi Gras appearances in New Orleans, and The Institute Brass Ensemble and other smaller groups have performed throughout Europe. On New Year’s Day 2008, the Band participated in the famed Tournament of Roses Parade and will repeat the trip in January 2016.
The schedule is demanding, but Colonel John Brodie ’92 (Hon.), VMI’s Music Director since 1988, doesn’t mind it. “It has been quite remarkable to use our cadets’ musical talents to show off VMI to literally millions of people who had never heard of it.”
Equally remarkable, according to Brodie, has been the VMI Family’s support. “It’s impossible to recount all of the marvelous assistance from alumni and friends. They’ve done so much from arranging transportation to meeting us at airports with buckets of chicken and hosting wonderful parties in places like Mobile, Alabama.”
They also provide generous financial support. Brodie cites Charles R. Eichhorn '48B as an example.“It was in the summer of 1988 when I met Dick Eichhorn, who was Band Company’s first commander. He was so impressed with the Band’s direction that he sponsored our first trip to North Carolina. He supported later trips, and he became a terrific friend.”
Through a bequest, Eichhorn, who died in 1994, created a scholarship to provide financial aid to cadets of Band Company. First awarded in 1997 to two cadets, in the most recent academic year, seven cadets received aid from it.
“Dick loved the Band and its cadets even more, and he cherished his special connection with them,” said Brodie. “So, it’s been wonderful to see that legacy continue as his generosity provides young men and women with the opportunity to attend VMI and represent it all over the world as cadet musicians.”