Stony Brook Athletic Band News
Dr. Justin R. Stolarik selected as Director of Athletic Bands
Stony Brook University is very pleased to announce that Dr. Justin R. Stolarik has
been appointed as the full-time Director of Athletic Bands at Stony Brook University,
after an extensive national search.
Dr. Stolarik is a dynamic professional who brings with him over fifteen years of distinguished marching band leadership. He assumes the full-time position after having served as the Interim Director of Athletic Bands at Stony Brook since September 2018. In this short time, he has written and taught new and intricate drill, designed imaginative and high quality field shows, arranged new music, laid the groundwork for new campus traditions, provided strong musical instruction, and coordinated the inaugural Spring Concert. In Spring 2019, he was awarded the Staff Member of the Year by the National Residence Hall Honorary at Stony Brook.
Dr. Stolarik previously served as Director of Athletic Bands and the Gene Braught Chair in Music as an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma. He was responsible for all elements of leading the Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band and conducted the concert band. Before that, Dr. Stolarik served as the Assistant Director of Bands at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he worked with legendary director Mike Leckrone, who recently retired after 50 years of service as Director of Bands at Wisconsin. Dr. Stolarik has also served as the Assistant Director of Bands and Conductor of the Symphony Band at Henderson State University and on the teaching staff of the Longhorn Band at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Stolarik has also been active in the wider music community writing drill, arranging music for and consulting with a wide array of high school, collegiate, and community bands. Dr. Stolarik holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education with Highest Honors from the University of Florida, and both a Master's of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts in Percussion Performance from the University of Texas at Austin.
The University is grateful to the search committee who reviewed many applications received from candidates from FBS- and FCS-level programs, as well as gifted educators and technicians of renowned drum corps and competitive high school programs. We are thankful to the students, student staff/leadership, band staff, and SBU faculty/staff who were involved in the search and selection process, and who helped us identify Dr. Stolarik as the full-time director.
Stony Brook University is excited to have the opportunity to continue to work with Dr. Stolarik. His tenacious work ethic, meticulous planning, and vision for the future will keep the band motivated to strive further, faster while while maintaining its core commitment to building community throughout Seawolves Country. Read his bio here.
SOSB Marches the NYC Pride Parade
For the third year in a row, the Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band has been asked to participate in the NYC Pride Parade. The event will be taking place on Sunday, June 24th, featuring a combination of band members past and present. We are very excited to see the Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band take part in representing SUNY in the 2018 NYC Pride Parade!
Two shows in 7 days: SOSB Performs at Sachem and Mineola
The Stony Brook Athletic Bands program performed at not one but two high school home shows on week in October.
On October 22nd, for the first time ever, the athletic band's program attended and performed at a high school band competition. Our 200 piece ensemble traveled to Mineola High School to perform at a New York State Field Band Conference competition. The band performed selections from our 2016 marching season including our Earth Wind and Fire, Homecoming Closer and Queen arrangements. Every time the band was cut off, the crowd, which was packed with high school band families from Long Island erupted in applause. Leaving the competition, some high school band members chanted “cymbal line, cymbal line.” And, for the third consecutive year, the program was invited to set up a recruitment table at the Sachem Arrows Marching Band Home show at Sachem East High School on October 16. Theresa Grimaldi (new member representative/clarinet), Chris Blount (trumpet section leader), Kylie Merrow (color guard section leader), Alex Peck (historian, trombone) and Lauren Perrotta (trumpet) who volunteered their time to tell high school students what the Spirit of Stony Brook is like. Attendees also got a taste of the marching band when the Spirit of Stony Brook Drumline took the field to perform a few of their cadences.
Dr. Chris Parks Named Director of Athletic Bands
Stony Brook, NY – August 15, 2016 - After a three-month national search, Christopher Parks, Ed.D. has been appointed as the new Director of Athletic Bands at Stony Brook University. He takes the reigns as the athletic bands program celebrates its 10 th anniversary season and following the successful leadership of John Leddy (2006-2013) and Shayna Stahl (2013-2016).
Dr. Parks is a dynamic professional who brings with him over two decades of distinguished experience as a musician, educator and community builder. He assumes the position after having served as the Director of Athletic Bands and Music Organizations at Boston University for 10 years. In this position he was responsible for leading the Marching Band, Pep Band, Concert Band, Summer Scarlet Band, The BU Big Band, and the BU Commencement Brass Ensemble. He also oversaw the All-Campus Orchestra, Winter Percussion Ensemble and three jazz ensembles. For each of these ensembles, Dr. Parks was responsible for overall leadership, including staffing, scheduling, budgeting, recruitment and overall artistic direction. The music program thrived under his leadership; during his tenure the music organizations grew from a membership of less than 200 to more than 550.
Over 40 applications were received from candidates from FBS- and FCS-level programs, gifted educators and technicians representing southern bands, renowned drum corp and competitive high school programs.
“I'm thrilled for our students to have the opportunity to work with someone as talented, accomplished and student-centered as Chris,” said Interim Associate Dean of Students, Jeffrey A. Barnett, who oversees the program. “His tenacious work ethic, energy and enthusiasm will keep our talented students and staff motivated to strive further and be better. His proven ability to foster relationships and build community among students and with university partners will help position the program for long term success.”
Dr. Parks went on to serve as the Associate Director of Bands at Kell High School in Cobb County Georgia after leaving Boston University and as he began his doctoral studies. There he assisted in the artistic development and administrative leadership of a strong music program with talented students. From 1995-2001, Dr. Parks served as Coordinator and Artist in Residence of the renowned Tanglewood Institute. Most recently, Dr. Parks served as the managing director of the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, a non-profit organization whose mission is to serve under-resourced students in their quest to be the first in their family to attend college.
Dr. Parks has garnered many awards and much recognition over his 20 year career. In 2013, he was awarded the National Band Association Citation of Excellence for his performance with the Kell High School Wind Symphony at the University of Georgia's JanFest. Parks is also the recipient of the Boston University Athletic Department's Campus Community Recognition Award presented to "the individual whose support over the past year has proven limitless." In addition, he was honored with the NCAA ring by Coach Jack Parker of the Boston University Hockey Team following their national championship campaign. Parks is also quite the talented musician in his own right, having performed trumpet with various national and international touring productions of Sweet Charity, The King and I, and The Sound of Music.
Dr. Parks earned his Bachelor's degree in Music from the University of Texas El Paso and Master's in Music Performance from Boston University. He holds a doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership and Communication from Northeastern University. His research and scholarly interests center on organizational learning systems, contemporary models of leadership, arts activities impact on resiliency, and retention/persistence. His doctoral dissertation focused on the impact of arts-based co-curricular activities on academic resilience for students at academic risk.
Founding Director Emeritus, John Leddy, noted that "Dr. Parks has been a friend of the band since its inception and he has long admired our program from afar. During his tenure at Boston University, I found Chris to be a terrific colleague and a leader among our America East band directors. His fine musicianship and dedication to leadership development will inspire our band members and move our program into a new and exciting era. Our students and our entire Stony Brook community are fortunate to have him aboard!"
On Thursday, September 17, 2015 the band had an experience of a lifetime - it performed the song Shut Up and Dance with WALK THE MOON! The performance was held in the Island Federal Credit Union Arena and was part of Stony Brook University's annual fall concert called Brookfest, hosted by the Undergraduate Student Government. Earlier in the day before the show, the band met the members of WALK THE MOON and practiced the performance at soundcheck. Both bands were very excited, as neither group had done anything like it before.
Since the performance was a surprise, the band spent most of the concert preparing
in Pritchard Gymnasium. However, it did get a chance to watch the first half of WALK
THE MOON's set in the arena. Once it was time, all 200+ band members left the arena,
and the next time they entered, everyone was in full uniform - shakos, plumes and
The performance was an amazing experience. Midway through Shut Up and Dance, lead singer Nick Petricca acknowledged the band as it jumped in with its drum break. After that, both bands finished the song together. Baton twirler Kaylyn Ahrenstein and four color guard members performed on stage while the band performed in the stands. Many Stony Brook students enjoyed the surprise performance saying that it was the best part of the whole concert.
The performance blew up on social media and even WALK THE MOON posted about it on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. The Wall Street Journal also produced a video project with WALK THE MOON in which the performance was featured alongside other marching bands and pep bands covering the song.
PHOTO | VIDEO
Founding Director, John Leddy, establishes $25,000 Endowed Scholarship to support first generation college band members
John J. Leddy, Founding Director and Director Emeritus of Athletic Bands, and his
wife Diane launched a new effort to bring critical support to first-generation and
low-income college students with a generous gift of $25,000 to the Stony Brook University
Athletic Bands program. The monetary award will go toward establishing the John J.
and Margaret D. Leddy Sr. Marching Band Endowed Scholarship and will provide critical
financial assistance to a first-generation college students in the The Spirit of Stony
Brook Marching Band.
Mr. Leddy, who served as founding director of The Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band until 2013, remarked that his donation was both inspired and made possible by his late parent for whom the award is named. “The donation was made in my parents’ name and funded by their estate,” Mr. Leddy explained. “It was a dream of my parents for me to go to school. They had little education, but they decided that I was going to have a college education. And they deserved a legacy—I hope the influence they provided to me will go forward and continue.”
And continue forward it certainly will, thanks to Mr. Leddy’s gift. A first-generation college student himself, Mr. Leddy feels he has a real and meaningful connection with first-generation students, many of whom he met many during his seven years of teaching at Stony Brook University and 40 years in public education. “Meeting so many first-generation students really tied it up for me,” said Mr. Leddy. “It resonated with me because that was my experience and it brought me closer to my parents’ story—which is my story.” Working in public education for 40 years was also a source of inspiration for Mr. Leddy, who feels genuinely lucky to have had the joyous experience of teaching and directing at Stony Brook University.
Most inspiring to Mr. Leddy, however, was watching how excited and elated the families of first-generation college students were on Commencement Day. He hadn’t noticed it at first, Mr. Leddy said, but when he did, he came to love and deeply understand the unbridled enthusiasm because it applied so meaningfully to his own experience. “I saw this other reaction and it connected to me and I thought—this is a big deal,” Mr. Leddy remarked. “I’m touched by those families who demonstrate how meaningful a college education is for them.”
When asked about Mr. Leddy’s generous gift to the program, current Director of Athletic Bands Shayna Stahl—a former student and colleague of Mr. Leddy—echoed these sentiments and remarked, “It’s an unbelievable gift he’s giving to the program and to students.” She added, “The scholarship is going to open a lot of doors for first-generation college students and allow them to commit to a community that will provide them with a firm basis of support.”
Generous as he may be, Mr. Leddy doesn’t ask to be considered a leader. He asks, rather, that others join him in supporting public education and first-generation students to whom financial assistance has increasingly become crucial. “I’m not trying to be a leader," Mr. Leddy explained, “but I hope to encourage other people to contribute to this or another cause, because our students need the support.” Director Stahl hopes his gift will animate others to donate, too. “His donation demonstrates his commitment,” she remarked, “and I hope others will follow his lead.”
Assistant Dean of Students Jeff Barnett, who worked closely with Mr. Leddy, attributes
the large monetary gift to Leddy’s leadership. “For 7 years, John gave everything
he had to this program and to this university. Stony Brook inspired him, as he inspired
us. Now, even in retirement, Leddy continues to give and inspire. He is leading by
example, just as he always has. John Leddy is one of the most remarkable teachers
I have ever encountered and the athletic band program and university is eternally
grateful for all the gifts he has granted, including this extraordinary donation.”
To make a gift to the John J. and Margaret D. Leddy Sr. Marching Band Endowed Scholarship, click here.