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Posted on November 21, 2012

Two faculty members and several Cal U music students were ready for some Monday night football last month.

They joined the Washington Symphony Orchestra when it taped the Monday Night Football theme song for the Nov. 19 football game televised nationally by ESPN.

Joining the orchestra for the Nov. 14 taping at the State Theatre in Uniontown, Pa., were students Lauren Satifka, Lindsie Hammaker and Georgia Nejus, who play various stringed instruments, and trumpeter Christopher Campus. Faculty member Greta Schottman, director of the Cal U String Ensemble, also participated. 

Orchestra director Dr. Yugo Ikach also directs the University Choir and serves as chair of the Cal U Music Department. Tom Hipp, an ESPN producer, contacted Ikach while one of the sports network’s crews was in Pittsburgh for the Monday night game between the Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs.

“It was more luck than anything,” Ikach explained. “Tom called around to several regional symphonies. Being local, and non-union, we were not cost prohibitive. And we wanted to do it, because we thought it would be fun.” 

The musicians recorded an orchestral version of the theme song while football legends Dick Butkus (Chicago) and Ronnie Lott (San Francisco) recited football poetry. 

“It was four hours of taping for two minutes on Monday Night Football, but it was pretty cool,” Ikach said. “You have to do so many different takes, because each time they are focusing in on, say, the horn section, then just the trombones, and using so many different camera angles. 

“It’s not often you get to do something like this, and being a part of Monday Night Football is something we can highlight,” he added.

“It’s important to mix things up, so your interest does not wane. This added variety and spiced things up for us.”

Hammaker, a sophomore majoring in communication disorders, played the violin throughout the long evening.

“It was definitely a really interesting experience, especially seeing how they taped everything,” she said. “I’m a football fan, so this was exciting.”