Campus & community, Arts & culture, Campus news, Performing arts

High-stepping through Asia with the Cal Band

By Anne Brice


The Cal Band has just closed out its triumphant two-week Asia tour , which saw both a spirited performance of traditional tunes like “Fight for California” and “Big C” at China’s Great Wall and a halftime show of Taylor Swift songs at a football game in Osaka Expo Park. All along their high-stepping way, the UC Berkeley students brought their trademark energy and enthusiasm.

Watch videos of the band’s 11 performances:

Between shows, the 108 touring band members hiked along the Great Wall and saw the sights in Tokyo and Kyoto. Touring Asia has been on band director Bob Calonico’s bucket list for a long time — in 2003, the band had to cancel a trip to Asia in the midst of the SARS epidemic — so he found this trip especially memorable.

Cal Band

The Cal Band performing at Cal Day 2016. (UC Berkeley photo by Anne Brice)

The Cal Band got its start in 1891 with just 18 members and has grown to 220 musicians who play 15 different brass, woodwind and percussion instruments and incorporate 28 different steps into their formations. A five-student executive committee manages the band, doing everything from leading practices to recruiting new members to handling travel logistics.

In addition to playing more than 160 athletic, campus and community events a year, the band marched onto the field for a surprise performance during halftime at Super Bowl 50 earlier this year, bringing some American football cred to the headliners, Grammy Award-winning British rock band Coldplay, on their hit song “Paradise.”

cal band at super bowl

The Cal Band takes the field in fuschia and gold for Super Bowl 50.

The band has also performed as the opening act for rock groups including Weezer and Foster the People, and has played at many sports events, from Golden State Warriors and Oakland Raiders games to the three world championship parades for the San Francisco Giants.

To learn more about the University of California Marching Band, visit the band’s website .