A round of happy birthday is in order as the University of Wisconsin Varsity Band Concert turns 40 this year.
The Varsity Band’s first spring concert was held on March 21, 1975 in Mills Hall to bring the Marching Band and Varsity band together for a end-of-the-year party.
Band Director Mike Leckrone told the Wisconsin State Journal the first ever spring concert was impromptu, with the set list being chosen the night of the show.
“We turned on the lights,” Leckrone said. “That was the production.”
Attendance continued to grow, and before long, the concert became an annual event held at the Field House. By 1987, multiple days of the concert were introduced. In 1994 the concert was stretched to three separate days and was moved to the Kohl Center in 1998.
The concert has become increasingly extravagant with each year. In 1994 a Wisconsin State Journal reviewer said the show featured confetti, a blimp, fireworks, strobes, flags and a fifth quarter “Chicken Dance.”
This year’s 40th UW Band spring concert will be held at the Kohl Center April 24-26, and tickets can be bought at badgerband.com or by calling 608-265-4120.
[Photo by Jeff Miller/UW Communications]