Thousands of Liberty University alumni will return to Liberty Mountain for homecoming festivities this weekend, but one alumnus has already taken up residence on campus.
Dr. Larry Seipp (’96), the new director of the Spirit of the Mountain Marching Band, took on the role at the start of the semester, fulfilling a dream of leading the band of which he was once a member.
“Now to lead this group is surreal,” he said. “I still can’t believe I can do this job.”
“(Freedom) means a lot to me because I am a product of it. The Lord used freedom to make me the person I am today, not only as a professional musician and teacher, but as a believer.
Seipp studied music education at Liberty while serving in the Spirit of the Mountain as trumpeter and soloist from 1991-92 and as drum major and commander-in-chief from 1993-94. He taught harmony for 25 years, most recently at EC Glass High School and Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg. He has served as an adjunct professor at James Madison University, Eastern Mennonite University, and Liberty, where he previously served as a music education expert for the School of Music’s online program. He took his bands around the country to perform at Bands of America Regionals, Walt Disney World and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
In addition to the field of education, Seipp’s musical career has also included roles as a clinician, conductor, judge, designer and performer. He enjoys playing trumpet for his church, Thomas Road Baptist Church, and throughout the area.
“Dr. Seipp is no stranger to Lynchburg or the LU community,” said School of Music Dean Dr. Stephen Müller. public and private, and we are delighted to have him join us and take the reins of the Esprit de la Montagne.”
Seipp replaces longtime group manager Stephen Kerr (’82), who retired in June after 32 years with Liberty.
When Seipp was at Liberty, the band had 120 members. Today it has 250 members. The game day experience has also grown and expanded, with Liberty’s rise to the FBS.
“Game days are a big reason students love being in the group,” Seipp said. “The incredible facilities are second to none, and the large student section that shows up early and stays for the whole game creates a great environment. Playing in a first-class stadium like the one we have now is amazing, and it’s even better when it’s jam-packed as it has been this season. From the video and sound to the security measures in place for the game, the whole experience is extremely well planned and executed to perfection.
Spirit of the Mountain’s halftime show, “More Than Conquerors,” features familiar songs with uplifting messages of perseverance, such as “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “I ‘m Still Standing”, and “Survivor”.
Seipp decided to add a biblical element to the band’s pre-game show this year, performing “How Great Thou Art” before the national anthem.
“I don’t know if it’s been done here before,” he said. “When you think about what defines freedom, obviously it’s our spiritual roots and our Christ-centeredness. So I think (add anthem) was an appropriate choice this year. It really means a lot to me that the band is also connecting to these things, and I think the (Homecoming) crowd is going to really appreciate hearing that.
In addition to Flames Football games this fall, Seipp and Spirit of the Mountain will host Virginia’s largest band competition, the Virginia Marching Band Cooperative State Championships, on Nov. 5 at Williams Stadium. The event, while welcoming thousands of spectators, will feature 35 of Virginia’s top high school bands. The Spirit of the Mountain will present two exhibits.
Seipp’s official title is Director of Sports Groups, so after the football season he will oversee the indoor drums (with frontman Dr. Tommy Goddard) and the cheer group. He will also serve as the subject matter expert for the School of Music’s online programs.
Seipp said he’s especially looking forward to reunion weekend, a time of excitement and celebration, but also a chance to look back and reflect on Liberty’s history.
“Now is a time to honor our past, our roots as a university,” he said. “We want to have a great show and have it done very well as for the Lord. This is truly our mission as a Christian entity. As a group, we want to be an example to the world that we can do things right, but we represent a higher purpose.