Alumni Profiles

Barry Spanier '80

Olympic Music Man When the 2000 Summer Olympic Games kick off next month in Sydney, Australia, Barry Spanier ’80 will be there. Not as a fan, but as artistic director of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Band.

Spanier, director of New York University’s Center for Music Performance and a seasoned veteran of musical extravaganzas, will not only be taking on the biggest assignment of his career, but he’ll be carrying on what may evolve into something of an Olympic music tradition in the Trojan Family. Fellow USC Thornton School of Music alumnus Mark Watters ’77 had the same gig four years ago.
Alumni and friends who want to cheer, as it were, Spanier’s Olympic turn should be sure to tune in for the opening ceremony on September 15 and for the closing ceremony on October 1.
He’ll certainly have his conducting hands full as director of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Band. The “2000” in the name is not only as in the year of the event – it’s in the number of musicians comprising the band.
What Spanier must devise is how to bring all 2,000 onto the athletic field, put them through formations and get them in position for the entrance of the athletes.
“Our primary mission is to play behind the parade of athletes during the opening ceremonies,” he says. “But before athletes enter the stadium the band will perform its own show on the field.” In all, the band will play for 100 continuous minutes during a thre

Barry Spanier will need his baton in hand when he conducts the 2,000-strong Olympic Band at the Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

e-hour opening ceremony.

IT'S TRULY AN OLYMPIAN TASK, but Spanier’s track record makes him an odds-on favorite to succeed when he goes for his gold. The native Southern Californian majored in music education with advanced studies in conducting and musical direction at USC. By the time he graduated he was music director for the Los Angeles Lakers band and associate conductor of the USC Trojan Band.
When he entered NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 1990 to pursue a master’s degree, he had already served as venue band coordinator for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and been director of bands and head of music production for World Expo ’88, held in Brisbane, Australia. In 1992, he was production supervisor for the Democratic National Convention in New York.
Spanier’s vast experience is now all in the service of the Olympic spirit. “Just like an athlete, we have only one shot at it,” he says. “And just like the athletes, the satisfaction that band members will receive from this is something that cannot be duplicated. It is something that will remain with them all their lives.”



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