Bennett conducts final concert

Norwich University hosts the 30th Annual Military Schools Band Festival

LTC BennettOn Sunday, February 26, Norwich University hosted the 30th Annual Military Schools Band Festival. The event brought high school and college students to the Northfield campus from Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Indiana, and Virginia.

The last time the University hosted the festival was 10 years ago. This year, the event was a special one, because it marked LTC Jim Bennett's final concert as the Director of Music at Norwich. For 23 years, Bennett has led the oldest collegiate band in the country here. He will retire from his position on May 15, after a career spanning 40 years of teaching music .

Television and newspaper reporters were on hand for the event, which was held in Plumley Armory. In an interview for WCAX-TV News, Bennett told reporter Jack Thurston that taking his marching band to three presidential inaugural parades was the most thrilling experience of his career.

Colonel Bennett conducts

"The feeling you have when you turn the corner, and the President is right down the street, and you're representing the country and your state ... that is a high moment," he said.

Bennett's photo also appeared on the front page of the local newspaper, The Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. The headline above it read, "Last Oompah," but that's not entirely true. A gradual retirement will allow Bennett to stay on for a time to mentor the next Director, facilitating a smooth transition.

Bennett conducts

The Regimental Band has been a significant part of the Norwich curriculum, and an integral part of daily life for Norwich students, staff and faculty, since its founding in 1819. Bennett's own contributions will echo around the campus, and in the hearts and minds of his students, for a long time to come.