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UC Berkeley Press Release

Cal Band launches competition for lyrics to new fight song

– It's got rhythm. It's got music. Who could ask for anything more?

The Cal Band, evidently. The rollicking, high-energy marching band is launching a competition to come up with words to the latest Cal song, "California Triumph."

UC Berkeley graduate student Hirokazu Hiraiwa wrote the composition over the summer, winning a national competition in August to come up with a new fight song to add to the band's repertoire. Hiraiwa, who had never composed a song before, said he was completely surprised that he beat out 15 other competitors from all over the United States.

"I didn't even decide to enter the competition until five days before the deadline. I was just bored over the summer," joked Hiraiwa, who played trombone in the Cal Band as an undergraduate student. "I don't know if it's just beginner's luck or what."

It's the first new Cal fight song since 1978. A restless drum major last year prompted the search for a new song when he suggested the band get some fresh material, said UC Berkeley's Director of Bands Robert Calonico.

"We all thought it was a great idea," Calonico said.

The song - sans lyrics - will make its public debut this Saturday, Sept. 11, when the Golden Bears football team plays New Mexico State. And the band is literally passing the baton to Hiraiwa, who will step down from his seat in the bleachers to conduct the song.

The composition was selected in a double-blind competition in which members of the Cal Band played all eligible submissions for the band's executive committee and an alumni panel. Neither the band nor the selection committee members knew the identities of the composers.

"We were all very happy when we found out it was Hiro," Calonico said. "He is a terrific musician, and we're really proud of him."

But don't expect Hiraiwa to try his hand at writing the lyrics to his own song.

"It's not really something I want to do, or could do," the civil engineering student said. "I'm not really lyrically inclined."

The deadline for submitting lyrics to the Cal Band is Oct. 16. The band plans to have the complete "California Triumph" ready to play by January.

"I'm interested to find out what rhymes with "umph," Calonico said with a laugh.

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NOTE: An audio file of the composition "California Triumph" is available through the Cal Band offices and will be posted on the band's Web site - http://www.calband.berkeley.edu/calband/ - by Sept. 16.

Lyrics should be sent by mail to University of California Marching Band, 72 Cesar Chavez Student Center 4280, Berkeley, CA 94720-4280.