Archive for May, 2019


May 29, 2019

 Let’s Discuss

Chapter 2

The Symphony


Columbus Symphony in Bill Heard Theater at the River Center.

To me, the grandest form of music is the symphonic.  I don’t mean just music of the Classical and Romantic periods, but, also, pops, country and more played in the symphonic style by a large orchestra. How large? Some of Wager’s works call for orchestras with 120 musicians.  I probably started liking symphonic music when I was a young boy, because most movie music has been played by symphonic studio orchestras since the beginning of the “talkies” in the late 1920s. Fortunately, my family was a movie going family. However, an event that happened in about 1947  truly hooked me on the symphony.

When I was a 16 year old percussionist in the Jordan Vocational High School Band , I went to a concert at the 9th Street USO in Columbus, Georgia.  The Three Arts League brought the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Fritz Reiner to town. I was transported when, sitting on the front row in the USO auditorium/gym, I became engulfed in the magnificent sounds of that large, wonderful orchestra. The Jordan and Columbus High bands sat on the first few rows. When someone in the Jordan band asked Director Robert M. Barr who paid for the tickets, he would only say that a rich lady did. He said she wanted to be anonymous. I always suspected that rich lady was Virginia Illeges, who was a big supporter of the Three Arts League and joined with Bob Barr to revive the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra, founded in 1855, had gone dormant during the Civil War, then revived in 1908,  and shut down again for World War I, revived again in 1936, disbanded for World War II, but was brought back to life after World War II in 1949, the year after I graduated from Jordan, and has been active for 70 years.  Bob Barr was its first director and conductor. That role is now filled by George Del Gobbo. More on that in Chapter Three.








May 27, 2019

L e t ‘ s D I s c u s s

Chapter 1 — Marching Bands

The man with the baton, whose picture I took a few years ago, and I have something in common. He was leading the Williamsburg Drum and Fife Corps, representing the very first U.S. Army marching musical units. They started during the American Revolutionary War. Over time woodwinds and brass were added to become the Army bands like the 30th Army Band that I led as drum major in Munich.

Richmond 162

Fife and Drum Corps, WIlliamsburg, VA

It was a very good band. After all, Army bands are made up of professional musicians. The Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence Band is truly impressive right now, not only on parade, but in concert, also. Let me hastily add, the Munich band was quite good not because of me. My MOS was “percussionist.” I was good enough to know that I was outclassed by the rest of the section. However, I think I was quite proficient as a drum major, so I didn’t feel guilty about my musician status. That’s because I had been legendary band director Bob Barr’s first male Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket Band drum major. He accepted nothing less than a student’s absolutely best effort. And, not only did I lead the band in football game halftime shows, I led it in ROTC Pass in Review parades, so I already knew how to do that. As a side note, when he learned I wanted to be a radio announcer, he introduced me to WDAK’s Ed Snyder, a savvy announcer who had a degree in broadcasting from the University of Alabama. Ed became my mentor and helped me land my first job in broadcasting at WDAK in 1948. Pardon the digression. Back to the subject, marching bands.

Then, there is the college marching band. My experience there is quite limited. In the early 1950s, I was in the Mercer University ROTC band. It was the school’s only band at the time, formed when I was there to play for ROTC parades. I played snare drum in that one. Maybe someone reading this has big time college band experiences to tell us about, bands like Georgia’s, Auburn’s, Alabama’s, Tech’s, etc. I have four great-nephews and one great- niece who played at Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. I don’t know if any of them will see this, though.

If I get any comments on this way too long post, I’ll continue the series. The symphony will be Chapter 2.