A. Olin Niles

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Years Conductor

  • 1923-1973.

Songs Purchased/Introduced

Song Line

  • None.

History

There is a birth record for a man of the name A. Olin Niles in the town of Shaftsbury, Vermont. It is not certain as to whether this is the same A. Olin Niles, but given the geographic proximity and the similar unusual name, it is quite possible. The birth year also matches that calculated from a Poly article of December 2, 1981 that quoted Niles' age as 88 at that time.

UPDATE: The cemetery record for Algernon Olin Niles in Troy, NY shows the same birthdate as the birth record listed above.

A. (Algernon) Olin Niles was born on April 10, 1893 in Shaftsbury, Vermont, to Martin L. Niles and Alice (Huntington) Niles. The roots of America's Pep Band can be traced back to 1923, when A. Olin Niles organized the school's second musical group (the Glee Club had been formed about 45 years earlier). Mr. Niles had been performing in the pit of the American Theatre in the days of silent films. The President of the Union asked him to start a music program at the Institute, and Mr. Niles complied. As the talking pictures came into being, orchestras such as the one at the American became less popular and Niles was able to devote more time to the Engineer ensemble. In the early days, the band not only played at athletic events, but also gave concerts and played at dances. The group performed for the lacrosse, hockey, basketball and football teams, and would play not only the RPI school song, but also the alma mater of the opposing squad. In 1954, when the hockey team won the NCAA championship, the band took two busses and greeted them at the airport. Membership grew and through the years players broke off to form other musical groups. Niles, who was a big fan of the marches of Sousa, Goldman, and others, retired in 1973 after 50 years of service. (Excerpts from RPI Pep Band on Wikipedia.)

Mr. Niles died in 1985 and is buried in Elmwood Hill Cemetery in Troy, NY.

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