Dean Goodstein revisits his roots by directing the All-American College Band
What is the dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities doing at the end of spring semester?
He’s going to Disneyland.
Richard E. Goodstein first came to Clemson as the assistant director of bands.
These days, he is the leader of a much larger band. As the head of one of the seven Colleges at Clemson University, Goodstein is responsible for a diverse array of disciplines, including architecture; construction science and management; languages and international health; philosophy and religion; and visual art.
For part of the summer, however, he is returning to his roots in performing arts as the music director of the Disneyland All-American College Band.
Coast to coast
From 1987 to 1997, Goodstein served as conductor and music director of the All-American College Band and Orchestra at Walt Disney World in Florida. He also participated in several band and orchestra reunions, serving as one of the alumni band’s guest directors.
This season, in honor of his 30-year relationship with the Disney program, Goodstein was invited to return as music director. He will lead a select group of college students from around the United States, who were chosen through auditions in Chicago; New York City; Anaheim, California; Tallahassee, Florida; and Fort Worth, Texas.
“I am grateful to Disney Creative Entertainment for offering me this opportunity,” Goodstein said. “I also offer sincere thanks to the leadership of Clemson University, who allowed me the flexibility to spend a few weeks working with these talented students.”
For the students, it’s an opportunity Goodstein described as “magical.”
The All-American College Band first performed in 1971 at Disneyland. The following year, the program expanded to Walt Disney World during the park’s first summer season, where it operated through 2000.
While the ensemble provides lively entertainment to Disney guests, it also gives the students an intensive, paid, professional internship in music.
In addition to working with high-profile visiting musicians, other perks include the use of the professional-grade instruments provided by the sponsor, Yamaha.
For all the magic, it’s an opportunity that also could be described as rigorous.
The 21-piece band performs five sets each day, five days a week from May 24 to Aug. 12 at the Disneyland Resort in Southern California. One daily show is a staged jazz performance, while the others are high-energy sets around the park.
Because of the grueling schedule, band members are required to be physically fit.
They, too, must adhere to the “Disney Look,” which requires men to shave daily and keep their hair short and tidy. Rules also apply to women’s hair, which must remain a natural-looking color.
One of the former members of the All-American College Band should appear familiar to Clemson football fans. Mark Spede, who played snare drums in 1983 for the group at Disney World, now serves as the director of bands at Clemson University.
“The All-American College Band is an elite group,” Goodstein said. “The musicians go on to perform in major orchestras, Broadway productions and other top ensembles around the country.” For example, Jeff Coffin plays saxophone for The Dave Mathews Band, Marcus Printup has his own New York-based band and plays in Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra along with other Disney College Band alumni, and Jeremy Miloszewicz plays lead trumpet in Broadway’s recent “Hello Dolly” revival.
One of the band’s current members already has a unique legacy. The father of Renee McGee, a trumpet player from the University of North Carolina, performed in one of Goodstein’s summer bands at Disney World. Kenneth McGee is now a trumpeter in the “Pershing’s Own,” the United States Army Band’s Army Blues.
The second-generation trumpeter is a reminder of the time that has passed since Goodstein first led the band. Goodstein recalled how his wife, Cissie, and his young daughters used to spend their summers with him in Florida. For many children, those months might have seemed like a dream come true, with chances to spend nearly every day at Disney World.
“My daughters got so spoiled,” Goodstein said. He laughed as he recalled how, when faced with day after day of sticky heat, his girls would whine: “Dad, do we have to go to Disney World today? It’s too hot today!”
These days, Goodstein’s daughters are grown, and he is leading the All-American College Band on a different coast. And yet some things stay the same.
Before the All-American College Band performs for the public at the Disneyland Resort, the first weeks are spent in long hours of private rehearsals. The band’s final dress rehearsals take the form of all-nighters, which run from midnight to 6 a.m. in the empty park.
On June 14, the band’s opening day, the magic really begins.