New UA Marching Band Director Ready to Rock
Chad Shoopman, a UA alumnus who is the new Pride of Arizona director, will lead the band during the Arizona Wildcats' football season opener against Brigham Young University on Saturday night in Glendale, Arizona.

University Relations – Communications
Aug. 31, 2016


Chad Shoopman, director of the Pride of Arizona Marching Band and Pep Band, selected the music of Earth, Wind & Fire to lead the band's new season. Shoopman was a Pride of Arizona member during his years at the UA.
Chad Shoopman, director of the Pride of Arizona Marching Band and Pep Band, selected the music of Earth, Wind & Fire to lead the band's new season. Shoopman was a Pride of Arizona member during his years at the UA.

After having performed with the Pride of Arizona Marching Band and Pep Band during his undergraduate and graduate years, University of Arizona alumnus Chad Shoopman will make his directorial debut at this weekend's football season opener.

The Arizona Wildcats, seeking a fifth successive winning season under head coach Rich Rodriguez, will line up against Brigham Young University at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Glendale, Arizona. The Cactus Kickoff game at University of Phoenix Stadium will be televised by Fox Sports 1.

To lead the band's repertoire this season, Shoopman has chosen the music of Earth, Wind & Fire, the R&B and soul band whose rise to fame came during the 1970s. During Saturday's game, the Pride of Arizona will perform some of Earth, Wind & Fire's most popular songs, including "In the Stone" and "Fantasy."

"You will see some nice visual and musical surprises. I want this to be a rock-concert experience," said Shoopman, the UA's newly appointed associate director of bands and director of athletic bands and associate professor in the Fred Fox School of Music.

"Musically, we are trying to reach as many people as possible. Earth, Wind and Fire's style of music is horn-driven, and it is music that — even if you are not a musician or a fan of marching bands — you might find yourself tapping your toe to and saying, 'That's pretty awesome,'" he said.

Shoopman has replaced longtime director Jay Rees who, in 2014, announced that he would return to his alma mater, the University of Miami. Rees directed the Pride of Arizona for more than 20 years, garnering a reputation for elevating music education and both the band's image and stature. During the search for a successor, UA alumna Allison Howard served as the interim director.

Prior to the UA, Shoopman was a distinguished adjunct faculty member at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where he taught film music history, trumpet and conducting. He also has worked for the Walt Disney World Co., conducting and performing on multimillion-dollar studio projects for Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Disney Cruise Lines.

He worked as a conductor, performer, arranger and choreographer for live shows seen by millions of guests throughout Walt Disney World, including FutureCorps, the Tomorrowland Countdown, the Main Street Philharmonic and Disney's Candlelight Processional.

Shoopman has been lauded for innovative show designs and arrangements that appeal to a wide range of audiences while maintaining artistic integrity in the ever-growing American brass band movement.

"The entertainment experience of the fan extends beyond just the game," he said. "It's the whole experience, with the pregame show and the halftime show."

After Saturday's game, the Pride of Arizona will prepare for its performance at the Sept. 10 home opener versus Grambling State University. Grambling's acclaimed Tiger Marching Band will make a special appearance during halftime.

At the UA, Shoopman also will serve as Wind Symphony conductor and will teach leadership and marching band techniques courses. In his work with the Pride of Arizona, he already has made a number of changes and adjustments, mostly related to the band's look, sound and marching style. 

"They have been the best. They are greater than the sum of their parts. They have shown that," Shoopman said of the band's members, who will number about 240 this season.

Shoopman, a Pride of Arizona member from 1991 to 1994, also has introduced the acronym PRIDE to the band: performance, respect, integrity, discipline and excellence.

"Everything we do relates back to those five elements," he said, adding that band members who demonstrate such elements will be given a wristband as a reminder of their commitment and dedication. "It gives us a central focus we can fall back on."

Shoopman earned a Bachelor of Music degree in music education from the UA in 1996, later earning a Master of Music degree in conducting performance in 1999. He studied conducting with UA conductor Gregg Hanson, a music professor, and later continued studying choral and orchestral conducting at Rollins College.

In 2010, Shoopman was appointed music director and conductor of the Brass Band of Central Florida. Under his baton, the band won a national championship, recorded three albums and earned the ranking of 13th-best brass band in the world — the highest placement any band outside of Britain has ever achieved.

Shoopman said he chose to "return home" to his alma mater and native Tucson — where his parents and sister live — in order to help a younger generation of musicians and cultivate a love and appreciation of the arts.

"I think everybody wants to have an impact on the world in a positive way. What would be the greatest thing is having a student come back and say, 'Remember that day in rehearsal? That changed my life,'" Shoopman said. "That a person keeps you in their heart and soul and takes you into their lives — the idea that you could have such a positive impact on people — that's always been something I want." 

And that reach extends to Arizona Wildcat fans.

"I want people to have an experience that moves them emotionally, to elevate people beyond their day-to-day worries and struggles," he said. "Music is food for the soul, and to be able to have that type of interaction, especially with live music where there is an energy exchange, can be very, very powerful and life-changing."

The Wildcats will take the field on Saturday, Sept. 3, in Glendale, Arizona. Watch the team's promotional video here:

Extra info


UA vs. BYU football season opener


University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona


7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3; televised by Fox Sports 1

This season, the UA football team will hold the Arizona Stadium Remembrance Event, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, during its Sept. 17 home game against Hawaii. The game begins at 7:45 p.m.

Later in the fall, the basketball team will make a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial while in Hawaii for a game against Michigan State on Nov. 11 as part of the Armed Forces Classic. During the trip, the team will have the opportunity to learn more about the attack on Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona's place in history.

To learn more about the USS Arizona and how the campus community is commemorating the anniversary of the attack: