The Band of the Fighting Irish has a long tradition of providing music and pageantry for Notre Dame football games. It was on hand for the first game against the University of Michigan in 1887 and has been on hand for every home game and numerous away games, pep rallies and bowl games ever since.
The 380+ members of the marching band come from all across America and overseas and represent every academic major on campus. Made up of Notre Dame’s finest, band members are recognized each year as distinguished graduates in their respective fields of study.
Dating back to 1845, the Notre Dame Band is the oldest college band in continuous existence in the United States. The band was the recipient of the 2011–2012 Sudler Trophy, considered the Heisman Trophy for college bands, and was declared a "Landmark of American Music" by the Indiana Music Educators Association.
Notre Dame has a rich tradition of concert performance. Annually, over 200 student musicians participate in the three concert bands at Notre Dame. Throughout the year the groups perform several concerts and provide music for the annual commencement exercises.
The concert bands perform in the beautiful Leighton Concert Hall at the Marie P. DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. This state-of-the-art facility is recognized as one of the finest performing arts centers in the nation and the Leighton Concert Hall’s acoustics are among the best in the world.
The concert bands tour both domestically and internationally. Recent international tours have included performances in the Sydney Opera House, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, the Beijing Concert Hall, and the Teatro Amazonas in Brazil. Domestically, the band has completed concert tours through California and throughout the midwest, and performed in some of the finest concert halls in the United States including Severance Hall in Cleveland and New York City’s Carnegie Hall.
The University of Notre Dame has three jazz ensembles: two full jazz bands and the New Orleans Brass Band. Each year the groups perform at several concerts on campus and also on a spring concert tour. The jazz bands help host Notre Dame’s Collegiate Jazz Festival (CJF), the oldest annual college jazz event in the United States, which features excellent jazz groups from universities across the United States and world-class professional judges, in recent years including John Clayton, Jeff Clayton, Terell Stafford, Marvin Stamm, Jon Faddis, Nnenna Freelon, Peter Erskine, Jim McNeely, Jamey Aebersold, and James Carter.
Both jazz bands perform a wide variety of music, ranging from Duke Ellington and Count Basie standards to the original charts from bands such as Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis, Clayton-Hamilton, and Gordon Goodwin, as well as contemporary music of interest. The brass band plays new arrangements in the style of such groups as the Youngblood Brass Band and the Rebirth Brass Band.