The Bandleader

By Emily Gold / November / December 1999
November 5th, 2007
After seventy years, Warren Leonard '30 is back on the bandstand. In October, Leonard, who was conductor of the Brown Band during his senior year, marched onto the football field at halftime during the Homecoming game against Cornell and led the band in a rousing rendition of "Brown Bear."

"I think the kids enjoy me leading the band," says Leonard, who also played the piccolo in the stands during several numbers. "One, because I'm different. One, because I'm old. And one, because the intensity with which I conduct the band is something they're not quite used to." Leonard's performance kicked off a year-long celebration of the band's seventy-fifth anniversary, says band director Matthew McGarrell. The second conductor in the history of the band, Leonard is, as far as McGarrell knows, the only surviving conductor from its early days. "He communicates the spirit of the pieces beautifully," says McGarrell, who expects Leonard to be one of several conductors at an anniversary concert to be held on May 28. The band is also compiling a new CD that includes a 1930 recording made by Leonard and his fellow musicians.

After a long career as a math teacher and school director in New York State, Leonard and Marion Boettiger Leonard '31, his wife of sixty-eight years, moved to Rochester, Vermont, where he still works as a substitute teacher and plays in the community band. Ever since his sixtieth reunion in 1990, Leonard has conducted "We Are Ever True to Brown" and other favorites as part of Commencement weekend's Hour with the President. "It's something I like to do," he says with a shrug. His wife corrects him: "Come on now, you love doing it."

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November / December 1999