Where We Are Now
For the majority of the Marching Royal Dukes’ existence, fans and alumni have come to view the most recent uniform as “the look” of the MRDs. Since 1986, the uniform of the MRDs has been basically the same; white jacket with purple on the sleeves and chest, and purple pants. This uniform was introduced by Dr. Pat Rooney, who directed the band from 1982 to 2007. Since 2007, the band has been under the direction of Mr. Scott Rikkers. As the program enters its 40th year, the band is changing its look.
The title of this post is “Where WE Are Now” because as a soon-to-be alumni member of the Marching Royal Dukes, I feel a strong connection to the group’s past, present, and future. The Marching Royal Dukes today boast membership upwards of 425 and have traveled the world over, performing in venues such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (2001, 2008), Bands of America Grand National Championships (1988, 1991), the closing ceremonies of the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi Family in Monaco (1997), the inaugural parades for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (1997, 2001), New Years Celebrations in Dublin, Ireland (2002 and 2006), and the New Year’s Day Parade in London, England (2011). (“The Marching Royal Dukes”) This legacy of travel and performance can be traced to the ensemble’s early years. The band continues to excel, and through travel, exhibition performances, and outreach to young musicians via the Parade of Champions and Summer Band Camps, the Marching Royal Dukes are one of if not the biggest and most visible organizations on the James Madison University campus. Without its strong foundation in its original goals of entertainment, showmanship, and musicianship, the ensemble would not be where it is today.
James Madison University. “The Marching Royal Dukes.” James Madison University School of Music. http://www.jmu.edu/music/mrd/about.html