A former director of bands at Stephen F. Austin State University will be honored when the SFA Wind Ensemble performs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 11, at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson.
Honoree John L. Whitwell was director of bands in the School of Music from 1987 to 1993 and was inducted into the SFA Band Directors Hall of Fame in 2011. Whitwell will be honored at the concert for his years of service to the profession, and most notably, for his six years as director of bands at SFA. He will guest conduct “Irish Tune from the County Derry” by Percy Grainger.
The concert is an outreach effort to alumni and potential future students living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, explained Fred J. Allen, SFA’s director of bands. The SFA Alumni Association has provided information about the event to alumni living in the area, and the band office is emailing invitations to band directors living within an approximate 60-mile radius of Richardson.
“The concert will appeal to everyone,” Allen said. “We are playing a march by John Philip Sousa, yet we are also playing pieces written in the last five years.”
Whitwell retired from his position as director of bands, professor of music and chair of the conducting area at Michigan State University in 2009. At MSU, he conducted the Wind Symphony and guided the graduate degree programs in wind conducting.
Prior to his appointment at MSU, Whitwell held positions at SFA and Abilene Christian University. He also taught in the public schools of Michigan as band director at Ann Arbor Huron and Northwest Jackson high schools.
His bands have performed for the College Band Directors National Association Convention, Texas Music Educators Association Clinic-Convention, Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, and Midwestern Conference on Vocal and Instrumental Music. He is past-president of the Big Ten Band Directors Association, president of the North Central Division of the College Band Directors National Association, and member of the board of directors of the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic.
Whitwell maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States. He has received many honors, including “Band Teacher of the Year” award by the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association; “Citation of Excellence” award by the National Band Association in 1980 and 1985; Kappa Kappa Psi “Distinguished Service to Music” award; American School Band Directors Association “Edwin Franko Goldman” award; and the Michigan State University “Distinguished Professor” award.
The concert will also feature David Campo, SFA’s associate director of bands, conducting “Mare Tranquillitatis” by Roger Zare. Tamey Anglley, assistant director of bands at SFA, will conduct “Whirlwind” by Steven Bryant.
Featured work on the concert program will be two movements from David Maslanka’s Symphony No. 2.
“This is an epic work, full of emotion and power,” Allen said. The second movement is based on the spiritual “Deep River” and is dedicated to the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
The SFA Alumni Association will host a reception following the concert. Tickets may be purchased online at www.eisemanncenter.com.