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KNOXVILLE — From the high-stepping drum major to the awe-inspiring echo of Rocky Top’s opening strains through Neyland Stadium and the traditional run through the “T” — the University of Tennessee’s Pride of the Southland Band is part of many of the university’s most exciting traditions.

On Sept. 7, alumni of the band along with the UT National Alumni Association will host a fundraising gala to support that tradition. The second annual gala will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the historic Tennessee Theatre on Gay Street in Knoxville. The gala is open to the public. Tickets are on sale now and cost $65 for the general public and $25 for students.

All of the money raised will be used for band member scholarships. “UT is losing students to other college band programs such as MTSU, Tennessee Tech and Vanderbilt because of our inability to offer scholarships,” said William Burkhart, president of the band alumni board. “These students need to be a part of the Pride and its tradition of excellence.”

In 2005, the gala raised more than $50,000.

WBIR anchor Bill Williams will emcee the gala and former UT Chancellor Bill Snyder will begin the evening’s entertainment with a performance on the Tennessee Theatre’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ. A video including historic band performances will be shown on the theater’s movie screen and the Pride of the Southland Band will perform. A cocktail buffet and cash bar will be provided.

Attendees also can participate in a live auction with auctioneer Bear Stephens and purchase rare opportunities to interact with the band.

“Fans will be able to bid on directing a version Rocky Top during a home football game, spending a day with the band during a home game and having the pep band attend a local tailgate,” said Burkhart.

The Band Alumni Association was formed in 2003 to assist the band with fundraising and development. “We felt it was time for former members of the band to give back to the organization that gave so much to them as students,” said Burkhart.

Gala tickets are available at all Tickets Unlimited outlets and by phone (865-656-4444). They also can be purchased at the Tennessee Theatre Clinch Ave. box office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. or online at

The gala is sponsored by St. Mary’s Health Systems, WBIR-TV, B-97.5 FM and the Knoxville News Sentinel. For more information on the band gala, contact Fuller Lyon in the UT Band office at 974-5031 or

Fuller Lyon, UT Band Office (865-974-5031),
Beth Gladden, UT media relations (865-974-9008),