CSUN Band Gets Tuned Up for Fall

Los Angeles Times, 08-24-1996

When a bunch of high school and college students out in a parking lot start tuning up their instruments and jamming Pink Floyd, it often prompts calls to the police.

But when the group in question is the Matador Marching Band of Cal State Northridge, passersby more often stop for a look or even tap their feet to the beat.

The celebrated band is holding the last rehearsal of its three-day camp from noon to 4 p.m. todayT in the parking area on the far north end of campus, along Devonshire Street.

Students from CSUN and local high schools are high-stepping along painted football field yard lines, sweating out the kinks in this fall's routine, an arrangement of Pink Floyd's "The Wall."

"It flows pretty much the same way as the original production did," band director Gary Pratt said, referring to the progressive-rock creation from the 1970s.

On Thursday's opening day of the camp, Pratt wore white gloves as he ordered his charges to snap off military turns and maintain erect posture.

The group, which has about 125 members, holds several summer camps to accommodate the number of percussionists, wind instrumentalists and color guards interested in joining the ranks.

Genre-bending routines and choreography have earned the band a reputation for creativity, as well as appearances on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and "The VH1 Honors," a live cable television broadcast at Universal Amphitheatre.

The percussion unit recently performed in a Gloria Estefan music video.

Past fall routines performed at football games and parades have included the classical "Carmina Burana" and the jazz-based "Suite in the Spirit of Dizzy and Miles."

Copyright, The Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles Times, 1996.