Pitt Band History Donald E. Hower
Donald E. Hower

Director: 1972-1985

During the summer of 1972, Donald E. Hower was hired as Director of Bands from his previous position as a trombone instructor at Ohio State. Under his direction, the fall term that year began with a newly reorganized concert band, the introduction of women into the band, and an attempt to rebuild interest after a tumultuous transition following the departure of Robert L. Arthur.

In 1975, Joe Campus was hired as the music arranger and Assistant Director. He developed a "new sound" for the Pitt Band. Mr. Vince Biancucci was hired as the Assistant Director and composer of the Band's drills and formations.

New uniforms were purchased in 1975 that closely patterned the existing uniforms, keeping the tradition of crossbelts, spats and pompons. The white shirt and tie were replaced for a "closed collar" style jacket with a brighter navy blue uniform.

A majorette corps under the direction of Larry Cervi, combined with the revamped style of shows and new uniforms, completed the "new look" of the Pitt Band. The majorettes were called "The Golden Girls", because of their gold sequined uniforms.

The 1975 season was a busy one that climaxed in a plane trip to El Paso, Texas to perform in the Sun Bowl where Pitt defeated Kansas. Because of extensive TV coverage during the 1975 season, more interest in the band developed, allowing the 96-member unit to expand to a 140-piece ensemble entering 1976. Practices during this time were over 8 hours a week plus Saturday mornings. Rewards for this hard work included trips to Chicago for the Notre Dame game and to College Park, MD to play Navy. The biggest game of the year in 1976 for both the football team and the Band was the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, LA, where Pitt defeated Georgia and became national champions. The Band members performed with Chuck Mangione and Clarinetist Pete Fountain during halftime.

The Band continued to expand its membership the following year, 1977, carrying over 180 members including alternates, with 160 marching on game day. The year was highlighted with the Jacksonville, FL Gator Bowl performance, where the Band did its Star Wars show for a national TV audience. In 1978 two service fraternities were formed, they were Iota Beta Kappa and Mu Kappa Upsilon.  In 1980, the Band would make a repeat trip to the Gator Bowl, participating in the Main Street U.S.A. parade at Disneyland.

In the summer of 1982, the decision was made to move pre-season Band Camp from Camp Kon-O-Kwee to Pitt's Johnstown Campus. Although this ended a long 36-year tradition, the Band now had access to creature comforts such as hot water and indoor restroom facilities, which were unavailable at the rustic Camp Kon-O-Kwee. The most famous moment of that year was the Band's Blues Brothers show, which was very well received. The Band entered the field from the stands dressed in dark sunglasses and their Blues Brothers costumes, and had a great time performing for the somewhat startled audience! The Cotton Bowl, in Dallas, TX was the year's final performance. CBS requested an encore performance of the Blues Brothers show, and the Band was happy to oblige for the national TV audience.

Donald Hower resigned his post as Director of Bands in 1985. He retired in 2014 as Director of Bands at Washington State University.