The USC Trojan Marching Band traveled to London on Monday to play in three concerts this week at Canary Wharf, Potters Field and Trafalgar Square, as part of the band’s pre-Olympics tour. The band will return home May 21.
Every other year since 1988, band director Arthur Bartner has led the ensemble on an international trip. Bartner said he chose London for the 2012 excursion because of excitement in Great Britain’s capital with the Summer Olympics, which begin July 27, and the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, which recognizes her 60th year of reign.
“We’re going to offer our kids a wonderful experience and different culture,” Bartner said.
The band’s biennial trips are always associated with an event and are often related to pre-Olympics celebrations. Whether playing in a torch relay or taking a pre-Olympics tour, the Spirit of Troy has been associated with the 1984, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2002 Olympic Games.
“This is one of the unique things that we’re able to do in the Trojan Marching Band,” Bartner said. “It enhances our band program as a worldwide organization. We’ve been to Australia, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Paris . . . and this gives us a worldwide reputation.”
Chris Roman, a junior in the band who did not go to London, said the trip provides the band with an opportunity to display spirit off-campus and to maintain its reputation.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for us to show our school spirit off-campus because we are a spirit organization, but we are not just spirited at basketball games or football games,” Roman said. “It also helps solidify our reputation as one of the biggest and best college bands out there.”
Bartner said the Spirit of Troy will showcase a marching band style that differs from that of a traditional British band.
“The concerts are the most fun because the British band tradition is very different than ours,” Bartner said. “It’s very stoic. For a lot of [Londoners], this will be the first time they see our marching band culture.”
Brett Padelford, director of public relations for the USC Trojan Marching Band, said the trip is an opportunity for the band to serve as representatives for the university abroad.
“I like to say we’re the international ambassadors for the university,” Padelford said. “Football is huge in America, but they don’t really understand American football overseas, so we are the overseas ambassadors.”
Padelford said the trip is unique and is fitting, given USC’s international presence in athletics. USC is the only university to have an athlete win a gold medal in every summer Olympic games since 1912.
[Correction: A previous version of this story misattributed a quote to Brett Padelford, director of public relations for the USC Trojan Marching Band. The article has been amended.]