The Marching Royal Dukes
“And now, presenting ‘Virginia's Finest,’ The James Madison University Marching Royal Dukes!”
This familiar announcement begins each exciting halftime as one of America's premier collegiate marching bands takes the field with its spectacular musical renditions and fast-paced drill maneuvers. The 365-member MRD’s, from humble beginnings in 1972 (the first year of JMU football) quickly moved to the fast track of college bands in America.
Among their many awards and performances, the MRD’s have performed at NFL games in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Washington. In 1983 they were the featured halftime show for the NFC title game between Washington and Dallas. They have been performers for Walt Disney Productions and several times have been the premier band for the Richmond Christmas Parade. In 1988 and 1991, they were the featured exhibition at the Bands of America Grand National Championships.
In 1994 the John Philip Sousa Foundation named the Dukes recipients of the Sudler Trophy, the Heisman Trophy of college marching bands. In 1997 and 2001, they were featured in the inaugural parades for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. In 2002 they performed at the inauguration ceremony for Virginia Governor Mark Warner.
The band has established a strong tradition as ambassadors of the university and community. They took their first European tour in 1997, where they performed for the closing ceremonies of the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi Family in Monaco. In December 2000 the Dukes performed at a New Year's celebration in Athens before an audience of more than 500,000; in 2001 they performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City; and in December of 2003 they were the featured band for the New Year’s celebration in Dublin, Ireland. They will return to Dublin for their second New Year’s performance in 2006. This past year, the Marching Royal Dukes traveled with the JMU Football team to perform at the NCAA Division 1-AA National Championship game in Chattanooga, TN, where the Dukes took home their first national title in school history.
The MRD’s also have become well known for their outstanding recordings. The band’s first recording came in 1978, and in 1983 they began producing a new recording each year. In 1988, they produced their first compact disc, and their 2-CD set compiled in 2001 includes favorite selections from 1988-2001. All recordings can be obtained through the JMU Bookstore.
The band is supported by the Yamaha Corporation and Zildjian Cymbals and has been used in the international advertising campaigns for both firms.
And now, presenting “Virginia’s Finest,” the James Madison University Marching Royal Dukes!
JMU PEP BAND
As one of the most visible athletic bands at JMU, the Basketball Pep Band has twice been selected by Eastern Basketball Magazine as the “Best Pep Band in the East.” With a membership selected from among the active members of the Marching Royal Dukes, this exciting group performs at all home Men’s and Women’s basketball games and has become a crowd favorite at these events. In addition, a select band will travel with the teams to the CAA Tournaments in March.