A National Headquarters in Columbus You Probably Didn’t Know About

Columbus, Georgia is national headquarters for AFLAC, TSYS,  Synovus, Carmike Cinemas, and was national headquarters  Royal Crown Cola and, of course, the home of Fort Benning,  but did you know it is national headquarters for the  High School Band Directors National Association,  and its National High School Band Director’s Hall of Fame?

Bob Barr Community Band,  Springer Opera House

Bob Barr Community Band, National Band Director's Hall of Fame and 20th ANniversary Concert, Springer Opera House

I learned this when I accepted George Corridino’s invitation to emcee the Bob Barr Community Band concert at the Springer Opera House honoring the Band Director’s Hall of Fame inductees.  When I pressed George for more information about the Hall of Fame, he said, “You need to go see it, Dick.”

“You mean that it’s here in Columbus?”

“Yes,  it’s on Front Avenue.”

It is indeed on Front Avenue in the Arsenal 1 building, now occupied by the Columbus State University Fine Arts Department,  but I learned the hard way that you can’t get in using the Front Avenue entrance.  It’s locked.  You have to go to the Bay Street entrance.  I did, and I finally got in, where I saw portraits and bios lining the walls,  and there were some artifacts,  like a band hat with a big plume on it.

Band hat, National High School Band Director's Hall of Fame, Columbus, Georgia

Band hat, National High School Band Director's Hall of Fame, Columbus, Georgia

The inductees are high school band directors from all over the country, including the great John Phillip Sousa,  who was a high school band director in New York State before he formed his internationally famous band,  thrilling American audiences with his “Stars and Stripes Forever,”  which he used a finale to his hugely popular concerts.  My grandfather took my mother, who was a little girl at the time,  to see and hear Sousa when he played at the Springer Opera House in the 1920’s.
John Phillip Sousa, Inductee, National High School Band DIrector's Hall of Fame

John Phillip Sousa, Inductee, National High School Band DIrector's Hall of Fame

        

Among the portraits you can see at the Hall of Fame,  is the one of Bob Barr,  the legendary Jordan High Red Jacket Band director whose bands won national competitions,  and for whom the Bob Barr Community Band is named.  Mr. Barr  –  his former students all still call him Mr. Barr –  insipred a lot of young people to go on to do well in life.

Bob Barr, George Corridino, Inductees, National High School Band Director's Hall of Fame

Bob Barr, George Corradino, Inductees, National High School Band Director's Hall of Fame

Another Columbus music educator icon,  has his portrait right next to Barr’s.  George Corradino,  who left his job as assistant director of the Auburn University Band to come to Columbus as band director at Columbus High,  did so at Barr’s suggestion and they became very good friends.  Dr. Corradino ended up as director of the Muscogee County School District’s music program before he retired and started teaching at Troy State.   He has been director of the Bob Barr Community Band for most of its 20-year existence.

Bill Pharris,  who was a Bob Barr Student,  and who went on to director a number of high school bands, including a very successful tenure at Hardaway High in Columbus,  is also an inductee.  George tells me that Pharris is Bob Barr’s most outstanding protege. 

Dr. Oliver Boone, also a former high school band director,  is the executive director for the High School Band Director’s Association.  Other than providing the Hall of Fame for band directors,  it offers a number of services to band directors all over the country, and it is organizing a unique online high school band exhibition.  You can read about it by going to this link.

Oliver Boone,  Executive Director of the High School Band Director's National Association (Photo courtesy of the NHSBNA)

Oliver Boone, Executive Director of the High School Band Director's National Association (Photo courtesy of the NHSBNA)

It is, in my view,  that this national organization is in Columbus because this city has been the home to some truly fine high school band directors.  We have mentioned some, but there are others. One of them was David Gregory,  who directed the Hardaway High School Band when my son Rick was in it.  That was the band that took first place in the Allentown, Pennsylvania Bi-centennial Band Festival in 1976.  I hope to see Gregory’s picture hanging in that hall of fame soon.

So now you know,  Columbus is the national headquarters for the High School Band Director’s National Association and Hall of Fame.  

Coming up,  another reason the Bob Barr Community Band Hall of Fame Inductee and 20th Anniversary Concert was so special.

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