CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Members of the Marching Illini joined hundreds of marching band performers for the National Championship’s virtual halftime show Monday night.
Marching Illini Director Barry Houser, who also serves as the chair of the Athletic Band Committee for the College Band Directors National Association, was one of the leaders who organized the performance.
“A small group of us got together just seeing what we could do to really highlight our collegiate musicians, many who have not not had the opportunity to perform at all,” he said.
That led to this virtual performance, with nearly 1,500 students from 200 band programs across 45 states and Puerto Rico. They performed Beyonce’s End of Time.
20 members of the Marching Illini took part in the performance. Houser acknowledged it was hard to narrow down the group.
“I just think the world of all my students, and the fact that we had to pick just a couple of them to do this – we were fortunate we were able to get 20 in the mix,” Houser said.
Five instrumentalists were part of the performance, in addition to members of the auxiliary units making up the guard, the Illinettes dance team, twirlers and drum majors.
“I really looked at things predominantly from the side of our seniors who did not get that last time to march in Memorial Stadium,” he said. “So many opportunities taken away. They’ve had a great attitude and perspective about everything. But let’s be honest, they’ve really missed out on a lot of things.”
Houser said the halftime show was a chance to bring people together.
“Music is something that we’re witnessing tonight that’s going to bring people together, and I think that’s an amazing thing that we get to celebrate,” he said. “So in many ways, yes, it’s a five-minute performance tonight of college students, but I think it represents much more than that. It represents unity, represents, again, something positive taking place in our world in a very challenging time.”