Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Oregon marching band hasn’t performed on a football field since the Rose Bowl in January 2020. Now, they have permission from Lane County Public Health to do pregame and halftime shows at Autzen stadium Friday night when the Ducks play the California Golden Bears.

Imagine being in a marching band and meeting on Zoom. That’s how it was last year. Eric Wiltshire is band director and Associate Professor of music at UO. He said they’ve been practicing in person again this term and playing in the stands during Ducks games.

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“They’re just excited to be back at it. Their work ethic is incredible right now,” Wiltshire said. “Every rehearsal they’re excited for whatever it is we’re able to do.”

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Fans stand for the national anthem before the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game in 2020.

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2020, file photo, fans stand for the national anthem before the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game between Oregon and Wisconsin in Pasadena, California. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Mark J. Terrill / AP

Wiltshire described the marching band as a soundtrack for Ducks sports. He said it completes the collegiate experience.

“So, if you’re watching the football game, even on TV, you should hear the band in the background and know what’s happening in the game even if you’re not paying close attention because we’re right there,” Wiltshire said. “So you know when it’s a first down. You know when there was a big play. You know what was happening.”

To comply with pandemic protocol, the band will run out onto the field at Autzen Stadium from the east tunnel. That’s something they haven’t done for nearly 10 years.

“I think the students are going to have a blast with it,” Wiltshire said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to generate some good excitement and it’s not something we’ve done like I said since 2012.”

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