The Emanons – Fifty Years and Counting

Julia Mueller
October 5, 2012

The Emanons in the 1970s.

During Homecoming this year, the Emanons will celebrate their 50th reunion.  In 1962, Dr. Jack O. White organized a jazz band at Elon College.  The first members named themselves the Emanons, spelling “No Name” backwards and they played a wide variety of music.  From the beginning, the Emanons were an extremely talented group of musicians.  Their first annual concert occurred on March 15, 1962 and in 1964, they performed at the New York World Fair.  In 1970, Dr. David Bragg joined Dr. White as assistant director, just as the Emanons began their global debut.  Over the years, the band expanded their repertoire from jazz to big band and rock. 

The United States Department of Defense named the jazz band “All American Entertainment Troupe” in 1971, and in the same year, they were asked to participate in the Montreaux Switzerland International Jazz Festival.  The Emanons continued to perform in Europe from U.S.O. shows in Germany to a Grand Ball de la Doune in Dudelange, Luxembourg.  They were the featured attendees of New York’s First Annual Brass Conference in 1973, made a guest appearance at the Lincoln Center, and performed annually at Disney World for years.

The Emanons at the World Fair in 1964.

The band also played on campus, mostly for athletic and annual events.  They played alongside the Showband of the Carolinas, the former marching band, and performed pieces by Billy Joel, Chicago, and Stevie Wonder.  The Emanons also performed and won awards at multiple jazz festivals including the UNC Charlotte Collegiate Jazz Festival and the UNC Wilmington Collegiate Jazz Festival.  After Elon, many students became certified music teachers or musicians.  For more information about notable Emanons alumni, click here.

When Dr. White retired from Elon in 1986, Professor Michael Lewis took over until the spring of 1990.  Dr. Thomas Erdmann then directed the Emanons until 1996, and Professor Jon Metzger has led the band since.  The name “Emanons” evolved into The Elon University Jazz Ensemble to better describe the group while traveling abroad to countries such as the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, and Germany became more common.  The jazz band also performed across America as part of their winter tour partly as a means of recruitment.  During this month-long tour, they visited high schools especially along the East Coast.  Their performances were mutually beneficial because while promoting Elon’s program, the Emanons gained more exposure.

To participate in the Elon University Jazz Ensemble, you must audition in August for a spot in the jazz ensemble.  Being in the program can contribute to a jazz studies minor, help develop musical skills, and offer experience as to what it is like to be a professional musician.  Today, the band consists of five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, and a percussion section with a piano, bass, guitar, vibraphone, drums, and auxiliary percussion.  A vocalist is often included in the ensemble.  Upcoming performances can be viewed here.

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