MSU Years

Leonard Falcone reintroduced open-air concert performances to the college in 1930. These events proved very popular, and by 1934 the band was performing before audiences as large as 3,000. The band made 54 public appearances in 1930-1931. While accompanying the Spartan Football team to Georgetown University in Washington, DC, the band had the opportunity to perform on the White House lawn for President Herbert Hoover on October 31, 1930.

In 1935, Leonard's brother Nicholas was forced to take medical leave for one month from his position as director of the University of Michigan Band. Leonard agreed to take over his brother's responsibilities for the month. The treatment, however, became prolonged, and for one year Leonard maintained full duties as band director for both institutions.

With the ever-increasing popularity of the MSC band's open-air concerts, a donation from the graduating class of 1937 of $2,500 made it possible to construct the Band Shell in 1938. In 1941, MSC hosted the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association's State Festival in which the band performed its first concert in a newly constructed auditorium during the event, which attracted crowds of 5,000.

During World War II, Leonard opted to enlist in the army to avoid being drafted mid term. But by October 1943, he had returned full time to the college and resumed his duties as director and professor. It was during this period that the Concert Band started to recruit female players due to the depleted numbers of male members. This remained unchanged after the war, as women became active members in the music community. Since women could not be members of the marching band, the Concert Band and the Marching Band became separate units in 1946.

On Sunday, December 19, 1948, Leonard married Betty Beryl Cromer, a high school teacher who met Leonard while she was a graduate student performing in the Concert Band. They had two daughters: Mary Beryl, born August 6, 1950, and Cecilia, born May 25, 1952. On January 17, 1953, Leonard celebrated his 25th anniversary as director of MSU Bands during a large banquet held in his honor.

The Concert Band began a series of successful tours in 1951, most notably the "Cap and Gown" series, which began in 1954. Falcone was eager to bring the same high regard of the Concert Band to the Marching Band. This attention soon came with MSC's 1953 entrance into the Big Ten competition and the football team's bid in the 1954 Rose Bowl. The Michigan State University Marching Band performed at the Rose Bowl in 1954 and 1956, televised across the nation.

In 1960, the Band Shell was demolished to make way for Ernst Bessey Hall and the adjacent parking ramp. Although reassurances were made that a new open-air venue would be constructed for the Concert Band performances, the plans never came to fruition, and subsequently the attendance for the outdoor concerts diminished as the seasonal performances moved from site to site with no fixed location.

In 1964, the MSU Marching Band represented the state during Michigan Week Activities at the New York World's Fair. In 1965, the Band once more represented the state during Lyndon B. Johnson's inaugural parade and also made a third trip to the Rose Bowl.


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