Date June 5, 2024
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Music to their ears: Brown Band sets whimsical world record for largest conductor’s baton

Brown Band member Joshua Lobsenz crafted a 19-foot 4-inch conductor’s baton that led a performance on the College Green, gaining recognition from Guinness World Records for the record-setting feat.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — As Brown University senior Joshua Lobsenz prepared to earn his degree in neuroscience this spring, he achieved another life goal during his final semester: setting a world record.

Joshua Lobsenz holds a giant baton
Joshua Lobsenz holds the 19-foot 4-inch conductor's baton that set a world record. Photo by Eliana Hornbuckle

Following months of designing and planning, Lobsenz constructed a 19-foot 4-inch conductor’s baton, which he engineered with a telescoping design made from fiberglass, paper and cork.

As the trumpet section leader for the Brown Band, Lobsenz enlisted the help of his bandmates, including head conductor Kanayo Duru, who conducted 16 members of the band in a live performance on Brown’s College Green in May, where together they made history and set a new Guinness World Record.

“I really enjoyed conducting with the baton,” said Duru, a member of the Class of 2025 who is concentrating in computational biology. “It was almost like waving a very long tree branch. It was definitely a new experience for me, and it was very fun to know I was contributing to a world record.”

Lobsenz said that the record-setting performance was inspired by a similar attempt by his Brown Band predecessors more than a decade ago.

“It seemed like a worthwhile goal to get the official world record — and to best the Harvard Band, which previously held the official Guinness World Record,” Lobsenz quipped.

Lobsenz submitted an application to Guinness World Records in February 2022 that was approved within three months. “After getting application approval, I got my own portal and a list of guidelines we were required to follow for the record, including the types of evidence they require,” Lobsenz recalled.

The barrier-breaking baton was actually Lobsenz’ second attempt. His first baton came in at 16-feet 3.25-inches, but it was disqualified because the handle was too skinny, he said. With some experience under his belt, he built a second one in three weeks’ time.

“I doubled down and built the second one, which became the official world-record holder,” Lobsenz said.

For the record-setting campus performance, the Brown Band members played “Pretty Fly,” “Timber” and “Araby’s Daughter,” which has the same tune as Brown’s alma mater, Lobsenz noted.

“There were specific requirements for how much the baton could bend and on the conducting patterns I could use, so I had to be very careful not to move it too fast or too suddenly,” Duru said. “Josh and I practiced conducting with it before the actual show so that I could learn the regulations and make sure everything went smoothly.”

The surprise performance on the green drew curious onlookers who happily happened upon the history-making moment.

“People were surprised,” Lobsenz said. “It’s not every day someone gets a world record.”

Brown Band sets world record


Brown Band member Joshua Lobsenz crafted the world's largest conductor’s baton. Video of "Timber" performance on the College Green by Joshua Lobsenz