- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Washington Commanders are getting the band back together. 

The team announced Thursday it will have a marching band next season, inviting musicians to submit auditions to be part of the group by May 23. As part of the announcement, the Commanders also said they plan on introducing a “revamped arrangement of the team’s original fight song” — known as “Hail to the Redskins.”  

For the past two seasons, when the Burgundy and Gold went by the Washington Football Team, the NFL franchise had been using a drumline on gamedays and played a Go-Go-inspired remix of “AHHHH DC!!” after touchdowns instead of the original fight song. 

Team president Jason Wright had said that the team planned on reintroducing the marching band at some point. The team’s initial decision to put it on hold was met with criticism from diehard fans as Washington had used a marching band since 1937.

In a conversation with The Washington Times in February, Wright said the team was working on a revised fight song and would solicit feedback from fans. 

“We’re going to pull the fight song forward because it’s an essential part of the tradition and experience of this (team),” Wright said shortly after Washington unveiled its new Commanders moniker. “This name was chosen because it had a nice fit with the fight song. ‘Hail Victory.’ ‘The Warpath.’ ‘Fight for Old D.C.’ So in partnership with our fans, let’s write that new fight song together and play it here.

“It’s a nice connection between the old and the new.” 

Last week, the team unveiled a new slogan “Hail to the Commanders” and the hashtag “#HTTC” — riffs on “Hail to the Redskins” and “#HTTR.” The team had been using “Take Command” as its slogan since switching to the Commanders, but rolled out the change at the team’s draft party at FedEx Field. Before that, the Commanders ran a social media poll asking fans which slogan they preferred, writing “Our 2022 emoji hashflag is up to you.” 

The Commanders said in a press release Thursday that the marching band will be made up of 60 percussionists and woodwind and brass players. Maestro Jeffrey Sean Dokken, who conducts the symphony orchestra of Northern Virginia, will serve as the band’s music director. Brittney Lynn, who works as an elementary school music teacher in Maryland, has been hired as the band’s director.

Any musician interested in auditioning for the band is asked to submit a “two-minute prepared musical piece of their choosing, a recording of required audition sheet music provided via the application link, and a recording of 2-octave F major and B-flat major scales by May 23rd.” The team says the musicians chosen will be considered part-time employees who will be paid for rehearsals and performances. 

“We are very excited to bring back the marching band with a new sound as we enter the inaugural season of the Washington Commanders,” Joey Colby-Begovich, the Commanders’ vice president of guest experience, said in a statement. “We have continually emphasized the return of traditions that have lived with the Franchise for decades and this is something we have prioritized in the rebrand process with the hiring of Maestro Jeffrey Sean Dokken, the team’s first-ever Music Director, and Brittney Lynn, the Band Director, who will work together to oversee efforts for enhancing the fan experience on gameday through creating and combining new and old music traditions.”

The Commanders ranked second-to-last in attendance last season. The team averaged 52,751 fans per game.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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