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The hour belonged to the Frost School

The Frost School of Music’s Band of the Hour thrilled concertgoers at Saturday’s Ultra Music Festival.
Frost Band of the Hour at Ultra Music Festival

The Frost Band of the Hour performed at Ultra Music Festival Saturday, March 30. Photos: TJ Lievonen and Kirk Sibley/University of Miami

Shimmering in green and orange, the University of Miami Frost Band of the Hour crushed stereotypes when they performed at Miami’s world-famous electronic Ultra Music Festival Saturday.

Attended by more than 165,000 fans from 90 countries, the marching band received roaring applause as they took the stage with Denver-based DJ/producer/saxophonist GRiZ. It was the young producer’s first appearance at Ultra and he wanted to make a statement, describing the joint musical experience as “so victorious and filled with joy.”   

“I love the New Orleans second line sound and I grew up through being in my school band, so this is like the mesh of those two things,” said GRiZ. 

GRiZ visited the Frost School’s Nancy Greene Hall prior to the show to rehearse with twenty-one members of the marching band. Dancing and glowing, the producer exclaimed, “I’m juiced up! They got charisma, accuracy, smiles, and they got game face. They’re professionals.” 

It all began last January when Grant Kwiencinski, known by his stage name GRiZ, reached out to band director Jay C. Rees and asked for some members of the marching band to perform alongside him on the “Holy Ship” electronic music cruise to the Bahamas. The success of their collaboration then led to GRiZ inviting an even larger group of Frost band members to join him at the Ultra Music Festival, one of the most electric, high profile stages in the world. 

“Not only have I always dreamed of going to Ultra,” said Frost Music Education sophomore Josh Class, “but now I can say that I actually performed there. It was surreal.” 

Currently in its 21st year, the Ultra Music Festival was held at Virginia Key Beach Park and Miami Marine Stadium, featuring an award-winning artist lineup that included legendary DJ’s from all electronic genres. 

Commenting on the band’s appearance, Rees said, “I was excited about this opportunity for our students because GRiZ combines live saxophone with electronic music. He’s also an advocate for music education, and his messages are all about inclusion. It was a perfect fit since the Frost School’s mission is to create unique and special music experiences, and we always strive to be a musical force for positive change in the world.” 

Classical trumpet performance freshman, Samantha Atlas, called the concert one of the “coolest” experiences of her life. “I was impressed with the flawlessness of the show,” she said. 


The Frost band performed on Ultra’s 60-foot live arena stage, surprising GRiZ fans with a rousing seven-minute grand finale that escalated to a crowd-pleasing dubstep drop. The finale began with an 8-piece drumline feature composed and led by assistant percussion instructor Sean Rees, joined by a 13-piece brass section led by Frost Music Business alumnus and trombonist Dennis Lejardi, who was the marching band’s drum major during his senior year. 

Lejardi’s Frost background and entrepreneurial spirit fostered the working relationship between GRiZ and the Frost band. 

“There was so much planning and anticipation, yet the actual experience was full of the unexpected, in the best possible way. Learning to ‘ride the wave’ with GRiZ has been so incredibly rewarding for all of us,” he said. 

With GRiZ on saxophone, the Frost band played arrangements of Kanye West’s “All of the Lights,” and GRIZ’ feel-good single “It Gets Better,” an anthemic song about positivity, love and resilience. 

Originally from Detroit, GRiZ is a multi-faceted artist known for mixing electronic music with his fiery live saxophone, energetic funk, sweeping electro-soul, and self-described future-funk. After the Ultra show, the artist had a few words of encouragement for the marching band. 

“Keep pursuing music because you all deserve to do something creative with your lives,” he said.