Shortly after the University of Southern California was founded in 1880, a group of musicians first came together to form what would become the Trojan Marching Band (TMB). Now the largest spirit organization on campus, the band has developed into one of the most exciting and innovative collegiate marching bands in the country. Featuring over 300 passionate students from nearly every major at USC, the TMB is a prominent and visible representative of the university with over 350 engagements per year. It has truly earned its nickname, “The Spirit of Troy,” for its commitment to ‘SC and its tireless support of Trojan athletics.
Over the course of a single football season, The Spirit of Troy entertains hundreds of thousands of fans in stadiums across the country and millions more on national television. In fact, the band has not missed a Trojan football game, at home or on the road, since 1987. A portion of the TMB follows the Trojans to every game with the entire band traveling north each year to play one of the Bay Area schools and biennially to the Midwest for the Notre Dame contest. At home in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the band entertains the Trojan faithful with performances before, during and after the game. The traditional pregame features the Trojan fight songs and the band’s distinctive rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Each halftime, the TMB presents a new and exciting field show that is a powerful blend of popular music, precision drills, and crowd-pleasing dance routines. Then, after the game, the band performs its customary set of “rock charts” for the lucky fans who stay past the final whistle.
Come New Year’s Day, the Trojan Marching Band can often be found at its second home in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl has hosted The Spirit of Troy 33 times, by far the most of any collegiate band. Other bowl games the band has attended include the Orange, Las Vegas, Sun, Cotton, Aloha, and Fiesta Bowls. The Spirit of Troy’s commitment to USC Athletics is not limited to football, though. From volleyball to soccer, baseball to crew, the band is there to root the Trojans on to victory. During the spring, The Spirit of Troy becomes the USC Basketball Band and attends all of the men’s and women’s home games. When the Trojans or Women of Troy advance to the postseason, the band travels to the “Big Dance” as well, including an appearance at the 2007 East Regional in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Because of its frequent exposure on the small and silver screens, the TMB has become known as “Hollywood’s Band.” The Spirit of Troy can be seen in such films as The Naked Gun and the Academy Award-winning Forrest Gump.
Indeed, the Academy Awards telecast itself has featured the band three times: in 1976, 2000, and 2009. At the 81st Annual Academy Awards, the drumline – in top hats and tuxes – accompanied Beyoncé Knowles and Hugh Jackman in a Baz Luhrmann-produced salute to the Hollywood musical. Earlier that year, the band appeared at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, collaborating with British alternative rock group Radiohead on one of the most acclaimed performances of the night. This was The Spirit of Troy’s second performance at the Grammy Awards.
Among the TMB’s other television appearances were guest spots on Glee, American Idol, Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother, Last Comic Standing, and The ESPY Awards. In 2007, the band broke into the world of major print media with an appearance in the prestigious Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. The TMB was one of two college marching bands chosen for this first-of-its-kind pictorial, which featured thirteen pages of supermodels posed with band members. The issue reached over 60 million readers in the United States alone.
During its summer vacations, the band stays busy traveling the world as goodwill ambassadors for the university. The Spirit of Troy performed at the 50th Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France; at a private reception in 2002 for First Lady Laura Bush in Prague; on the Great Wall of China in 2004; in front of the Roman Colosseum in 2006 and on Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema Beach in 2008. The band has also had the privilege of performing at four World Expositions in the last twenty years, including Australia 1988, Spain 1992, Portugal 1998, and most recently Japan 2005, where the band was the featured entertainer at the EXPO’s United States Day.
Dr. Arthur C. Bartner earned his B.A., M.A., and Ed.D. in music education from the University of Michigan, under the guidance of famed director William D. Revelli. His love for music started long before in Maplewood, New Jersey, where he learned to play the trumpet. In 1970, after seven years of building some of the most highly acclaimed high school band programs in Michigan, Dr. Bartner accepted an invitation from the University of Southern California to direct the Trojan Marching Band.
Dr. Bartner introduced the band’s distinctive “drive-it” style of marching and revolutionized its sound by incorporating modern hits into its repertoire. Now, after 44 years, the Trojan Marching Band is one of the most innovative and in-demand college bands in the country. Under his direction, the band became known as “The Spirit of Troy,” for its support of USC Athletics, attending over 85 USC sports events each year. With over 350 engagements annually, his band is the university’s goodwill ambassador to the community, nation, and world. Dr. Bartner has taken the TMB to every major continent and 17 countries.
Dr. Bartner’s program has also come to earn the nickname “Hollywood’s Band.” In over four decades, the band has appeared in well over 100 movies and television shows. The TMB also garnered two platinum albums for its work with the rock group Fleetwood Mac. The band has appeared on the Academy Awards three times, performed with Radiohead at the 2009 Grammy Awards, and guest-starred on the season finale of American Idol in 2008.
In 2011 the band performed at its 300th consecutive USC Football game, a streak that started in 1987. In 2012 Dr. Bartner was inducted into USC Athletics’ Hall of Fame.