History and Biography of the Upper Arlington Band Program

The Upper Arlington Band program began in 1929 when the 36 members of the first band played for the dedication of the new athletic field on October 19, 1929 at what is now Jones Middle School. Since then, the band has performed for professional football games in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, at:

1998 Walt Disney World’s Magic Music Days Festival
2002 Orange Bowl, Miami, FL
2004 BCS Title Game held at the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, LA
2006 Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, FL
2008 Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, LA
2010 Outback Bowl, Tampa, FL
2012 Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, LA
2013 Liberty Bowl, Memphis, TN
2015 Russell Athletic Bowl, Orlando, FL
2017 Fiesta Bowl parade, Arizona
2023 Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Parade, Orlando, FL

The band program basis its success on the experience of the students involved in the program and maintains a non-competitive philosophy.

In 2006, the band hosted a band night that featured six high school bands. Band night showcased marching bands in performances in a fun and festive atmosphere to promote good will and camaraderie amongst band members.

The Golden Bear Marching Band also performed at The Ohio State University’s world famous “Skull Session” in 2006. Held in St. John Arena, the skull session is a pep rally where the Ohio State University Marching Band performs and the university football team meets before walking over to the stadium. The game was OSU’s Homecoming game against the University of Minnesota. The halftime show featured Upper Arlington High School alumnus Jack Nicklaus who “dotted the i” in Script Ohio.

The band program has hosted several guest visits by performing groups and artists including: Maynard Ferguson and the Big Bop Nouveau Band, Bill Watrous, Fred Hamilton, Terry Waldo, and Ndugu Chancellor. Collegiate groups who have performed for UA Band students include: Virginia Commonwealth University Jazz Ensemble, Ohio State University Trombone Choir with Joe Duchi, Capital University Faculty Brass Quintet, Capital Jazz Group, Capital University Faculty Woodwind Quintet, University of Toledo Marching Band, The Ohio State University Jazz Ensemble, Ohio University Jazz Ensemble, Ohio University Jazz Percussion Quartet, Dayton Jazz Ensemble from the University of Dayton, Dayton Saxophone Quartet, Pendulum Percussion Duo with Susan Powell and Joe Krygier, Ohio State Percussion Quartet, the Capital University Jazz Fusion Group, and the Kent State Faculty Brass Quintet.

Performing bands at Upper Arlington High School have worked with special guest clinicians and/or performed with several performers and groups including: Andy Geiger, R.D. Mathey, Barry Koptez, Rick Blatti, Terry Waldo, Russ Mikkelson, Ted McDaniel, Jim Rupp, the Worthington Civic Band, Gabriel Alegria, and Shelly Berg. At national bowl games, the band has performed with Jagged Edge, Lil’ Bow Wow, Jessica Simpson, and Limp Bizkit.

Students in the band program are active in several area groups, including All State Band, OSU Honor Band, All State Orchestra, South-Central Regional Orchestra, Youth Brass Bands, Capital Youth Band, CSO Cadet and Youth Orchestras, Columbus Youth Jazz Ensemble, and the OSU Percussion Group, Capital Honor Bands, and Capital Reading Bands.

Graduates of the UA Band program continue to perform through their college years and beyond. Alumni currently perform in bands from Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, Penn State, Indiana, Cincinnati, Dayton, Bowling Green, Wooster, Miami, and several others. At the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, two brothers and former members of the Golden Bear Marching Band marched their last college game in different uniforms at the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona. One brother marched for Ohio State and the other marched for Notre Dame.

Students begin study on band instruments in the fifth grade. Skill development and performance opportunities are extended during the middle school years. The high school offers six performing bands that focus on a variety of skill development and/or styles. The High School Symphonic Band consistently receives Superior ratings at adjudicated events. The Jazz Band participates in several events including invitational jazz festivals throughout the state every year. The pep band performs at several basketball games.

The Upper Arlington High School Band program is proudly supported by the parents of students in the organization. The band parents organize and support many activities and tend to hundreds of details that allow students in the program to receive the best possible experience.

Band Directors
1929-1936 – Henrietta Davis
1937-1942 – Stephen Jones
1943-1945 – R. V. Chevey
1945-1949 – Jess Freeman
1949-1951 – Gordon Harris
1951-1954 – Robert HightShoe
1954-1980 – Bob “Ginny” Ginther
1980-1999 – John “JB” Blevins
1992-1999 – Paul Albright
1999-2015 – Mike Manser
2015-2018 – George Edge
2018-present – Todd Fessler

UAHS Band Program