Posts Tagged ‘Springer Opera House’

Musical Chairs Make a Big Difference

November 20, 2017

Cameron Bean, Executive Director of Development for Columbia s State University, with Col. (Ret.) Hal J. and Marie A.Gibson standing by the new display for their donation of the Distinguished Chair in Conducting for the Schwob School of Music.

No doubt, one of the main reasons that the Schwob School of Music attracts extraordinarily talented student musicians from all over the world is that it has world-class instructors. And one of the main reasons is they are paid well, thanks to a large number of endowed chairs funded by generous benefactors.  Faculty members who are honored with Chairs in Music get significant supplements to their salaries.

Schwob Wind Ensemble conducted by Jamie L. Nix, The Hal J. Gibson Distinguished Chair in Conducting,

The latest faculty member to receive that honor is Jamie L. Nix, Conductor of the Schwob Wind Ensemble, thanks to Hal J. and Marie L. Gibson.  Cameron Bean, Executive Director of Development for Columbus State University, announced the addition of the Hal J. Gibson Distinguished Chair in Conducting at the Schwob Wind Ensemble Kick-off Concert for the 20th Anniversary CSU Conductors Workshop.  Bean said that Col. (Ret.) Hal Gibson is a retired Schwob School of Music faculty member, who, after leading the U.S.. Army Field Band and the United States Armed Forces Bicentennial Band, came to then Columbus College in 1976 to develop the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, gaining national recognition and acclaim for the Columbus State University band program. He retired from CSU in 1991. The Legacy Hall audience gave the Gibsons a standing ovation.

Col. Gibson and I had a nostalgic conversation during intermission. I got to know him when I accepted an invitation from him to emcee one of his Symphonic Wind Ensemble’s concerts. On June 1st. 1981, he reenacted a John Phillip Sousa concert at the Springer Opera House.  That was special for me because my mother, Sara McMichael, was in the audience. I informed the audience that she had actually attended  Sousa’s last concert at the Springer on February 18, 1922.

The 2nd balcony is used now for lighting, but it was built as a segregated balcony for African-Americans back in Jim Crow days. There was a second box office and flight of stairs that led to it.

The only seats left when her father decided to take her – she was about 11 years old – were in the second balcony, which was called the “peanut gallery” back then. That balcony was actually for “colored” patrons at that time.  However, for the Sousa performance, the high demand for tickets by whites led the Springer to close the second balcony to African-Americans and open it for whites. That was the way it was prior to 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress, ending racial segregation in public facilities.

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You Don’t Need to Go Anywhere Else to Get Great Live Entertainment, but You Might Need to in Order to Afford It

September 25, 2011

Bill Bullock, Executive Director, River Center

No, you don’t have to go to Atlanta or New York to get first-rate live entertainment anymore. With the River Center, the Springer, the Schwob School of Music and Drama Departments at Columbus State University in full swing, you can get it right here and right now.  And a lot of people are doing just that.  Those who can afford it. And a lot can’t because Columbus is a low-pay, high- unemployment and poverty-rate town.

Bill Bullock,  Executive director of the River Center told Columbus Rotarians that during its just-completed season , the  River Center attracted 99,000 patrons. “Over, 5,000 performers, technicians, ushers, and other participants attended the needs of those patrons. About 3 million dollars was spent in the process.”

Since its opening in 2002, almost a million patrons were entertained, with 50 thousand participants at a cost of over 37 million dollars.

People who  go to plays and concerts and other cultural events also spend money eating out, staying in hotels and doing other things. Bullock says a survey of the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley taken in 2009 shows that annually “local arts and culture groups generate 51 million dollars of revenue and almost 5 million dollars in taxes; spend 21 million dollars directly and leverage another 30 million dollars of expenditures in local businesses; and employ 1500 workers.”

Just look at some of the nationally successful performers and plays and musicals that have graced the stages of the River Center over the past 9 years:

Bill Cosby, Anne Murray, Loretta Lyn, Frankie Valli, Wynton Marsalis, Mannheim Steamroller, BB King, Travis Trit, Lilly Tomlin, The Smothers Brothers, Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, The Russian National Ballet, The Music Man, Camelot, Cats, 42nd Street, Annie, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Rent, Miss Saigon, Chicago, Stomp, David Copperfield, and a live NPR broadcast of A Prarie Home Companion, to  mention a few.

Then, of course, there are those great local performances by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Schwob School of Music concerts featuring the world-class Schwob School of Music Philharmonic Orchestra, Wind Ensemble,  and other groups and individual performers including faculty who have performed with some of the world’s most prestigious music groups.  And the plays and musicals at the Springer compare favorably with the best regional theaters in the country.

At one time Columbus may have been a sleepy Southern cotton mill and Army town with little to offer in the way of first-class live entertainment, but it is certainly not that any more.  It’s definitely still an Army town, one that’s proud of it, but, with one exception, is no longer a cotton mill town.  Virtually all of those jobs were shipped overseas where pay is even lower than in Columbus.

The city is on the Interstate now – kept off for decades by the politically powerful locals afraid of higher wages and retail competition in Atlanta  – and it has a growing and respected public University,  and just about all of the first-rate live entertainment that most of us can afford.  Admittedly, there is a problem in the number of people who can afford it, because the city is notorious for low pay; poverty is a critical problem, and unemployment is higher than the national average, but just below the state average.

Bottom line, yes we do have need for improvement when it comes to the city’s declining middle class and the poor, but when it comes to entertainment, we can compete with just  about any metropolitan area.

The Day the Fun Died

September 1, 2011

It’s hard to imagine Columbus without Sam Rawls. If anyone had stage presence, it was Sam. All he had to do was walk into the room and you knew he was there. But, you knew he wouldn’t just  walk into the room. He would have everyone laughing in no time with his insults of the most prominent people there. You could say that he  was Columbus’ Don Rickles.  Quite  often he was the butt of his own jokes.  He was one of the kidders who could appreciate  return fire.  That is  not always the case with kidders. On some public occasions, I would be the target of his kidding, which pleased me a lot, because it was an honor to be singled out by Sam. I also managed to return the favor a few times.

He is going to be missed by so many people and groups.

He was active at  his church, Trinity Episcopal.

He was a force at the Schwob School of Music, not only contributing funds himself, but raising even more with his birthday parties.  How many people do you know who would throw their own birthday party in a room the size of the Bill Heard Theater at  the River  Center?  There was no admission charge for the entertainment, which could range from a stand-up comedian to a concert pianist, but he would give you the opportunity of contributing to the Schwob School.

This photograph of a young Sam Rawls and the portrait above were both furnished by Jim Cawthorne of Camera1. Jim is also a fellow Rotarian, and Sam's friend, as well as mine.

He was also a big supporter of the Springer Opera House.  That support included not just money, but performing in a number of plays. That’s where Sam and I became friends, acting in Springer plays directed by the  late Charles Jones. Among the plays we were in together were The Crucible and How to Succeed in  Business Without Really Trying.  The Crucible,  a heavy  drama about the Salem witch  trials, was an interesting challenge for both of us, but the most fun was How to Succeed.  It was the one and only time I ever sang on stage.  And, as Bud Frumph, I got a lot of laughs.  I must have done it  pretty well since Sam said, “You were nominated for the wrong part.”   He was referring to the Springer’s version of the Tonys. I had gotten nominated for Best Actor in Death of a Salesman. Turned out he was right. I probably would have won Best Supporting Actor for How to Succeed.  As it turned out I didn’t win Best Actor.

Sam was also one of the main players in the Rotary Club of Columbus.  Not only was he active in serving on different committees, but you could count on him to give everyone a laugh during a lot of the  meetings.

When I did a talk at Rotary premiering my memoir The Newsman, I asked Sam to do the introduction, which he did.  The late S.L. Mullins, fellow Rotarian and student at Jordan Vocational High School, who was also a big  kidder, came up to the head table before  the program started and said, loud enough for Sam to hear, “What did you do, buy some insurance to get him to introduce you?”   I didn’t.

Yes, like hundreds of others, I loved Sam and will  miss him.  And my heart goes out to his family, including his wife of 58 years, Jacquie, and his son Robin Scott Rawls, and his two grandchildren.

No, Columbus won’t be the same without Sam.

“The Phenix City Story” Packs the Springer

July 30, 2011

Why did the Springer almost sell-out for last night’s showing of the 56-year-old movie The Phenix City Story?  No doubt the front-page Ledger-Enquirer story about Rachel and Becca Wiggens, the twin babies in the picture, now adult women, being at the showing had something to do with it.  But, I think it was more than that, even more than the fact that the movie is about the murder of attorney Albert Patterson by the Phenix City mob, and how his son John and the good people of the city overcame the crime bosses.  Probably the chance to see the “film classic” on the big screen in a theater had a lot to do with it. The first time I saw the movie was in 1955 at a U.S. Army theater at McGraw Kasern in Munich, Germany.  What an impression Phenix City and  Columbus made on my Army buddies!

Now, I can watch movies on my HDTV, and do, but I still enjoy going to movie theaters.  It’s a different dynamic when you are a part of an audience, sharing the same experience with hundreds of others – well, some of the time, since the last time I went to the Screening Room at the Ritz 13 there were two of us in the theater –  who are  reacting to what they are seeing on the screen.

And last night at the Springer, the audience reaction was the strongest I have seen in a long,  long time.  No doubt the old black- and-white 1955 movie had strong camp appeal, with people laughing at some of the corny over-acting in some serious scenes not meant to be funny. Still, the story, with its heroes and villains, pulled everyone into it, and the audience broke into enthusiastic applause when the good guys overcame the bad guys. It was really loud when Richard Kiley, portraying future Alabama Attorney  General and Governor John Patterson,  decked some mob goons, and loudest when Albert Patterson finally gave in and decided to run for Attorney General.  That decision was probably the thing that eventually brought down the crime bosses.

And the audience enthusiastically applauded the movie when it was over.  Rachel and Becca Wiggins, the twins in the movie, along with Columbus-Phenix City historian Fred Fussell, took the stage after the movie.  The charming ladies were immediate hits.  They were witty. Although, too young when in the movie to remember anything about it, they learned about it from their parents.

The movie was unique for its time, opening with interviews with some of those involved in the Phenix City clean-up.  It wasn’t totally accurate, for instance,  as clean-up leader Hugh Bentley’s son Truman told me after the movie,  the part about the little African-American girl being run down by a mob car and thrown in the Patterson’s yard was “Hollywood.”  It never happened. Nor were any real names of the gang’s bosses used.  However, overall, in essence, it did, with a little of Hollywood’s coloring,  tell the true story.

Thanks to the folks who run the Springer for keeping alive the Springer as a live performance center, but also for remembering that the grand old opera house was also a movie theater for a while.   The Film Classics series will continue with a showing of Jaws next month.

The Springer Just Keeps Getting Better

June 14, 2011

As I watched Dot McClure cut the ribbon signifying the official opening of the Dorothy W. McClure Springer Theater Academy Education Center, I remembered that she and I were in a play together at the Springer a long time ago.  When I talked with her at the ribbon cutting and open house, I couldn’t remember which one, nor could she, but now that I’ve a had a little time to think about it, I think it was Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller’s world-class American classic.  I believe she played the salesman Willie Loman’s wife, and my mother, because I played Biff, one of the two sons in the family.  That took some real acting on both our parts because we are fairly close in age.  She was quite good in the part.

She is one of the great contributors to the Springer’s success,  and her latest contribution is $3 million for the Education Center and part of the $4 million that will be used to build a new theater.  It’s all a part, according to what Artistic Director Paul Pierce said, of the $11.5 million improvement campaign.  He said that $9.8 million of that  has been raised.  He said of the more than 240 people asked to contribute funds to the project, not one said no. That is truly impressive.

And the center is truly impressive with big-mirrored classrooms for the young aspiring actors.  This year’s summer camp for young people is already 600 kids strong and education program director Ron Anderson says there is room for more.

The Springer has come a long way since 1963 when the former Columbus Little Theater moved in and Columbus theater lovers chipped in enough money to save the theater from demolition. I played the male lead in, if my memory is correct,  the last Columbus Little Theater production, Shakespeare’s Taming  of the Shrew, directed by the modern Springer’s founding director the late Charles Jones.  We did it in the round in a vacant store building in Cross Country Plaza. Not too long after that, he directed the musical that  reopened the Springer, Lil’ Abner.  It was quite a production. Springer benefactor the late Emily Woodruff brought a friend of her’s, pro Abe Feder, down from Broadway in New York to light it.  I remember that  “white light” was in vogue at the time. Feder used no color lights, saying that white lighting brings out the  brilliant colors of the costumes and sets and is best for a musical.

Thanks to people like Emily and Dot, and others, the Springer has aged very well, growing more beautiful and having a larger reach with each year.  And what Paul And Ron have done and are doing with it,  not just as a theater, but also as a school, deserves all the thanks we can give them.

“Lakebottom Proper” Was Probably Funny, but Even Though I Saw it, I Wouldn’t Know

May 24, 2011

There have been some rave reviews by people I know who saw “Lake Bottom Proper,” the broad farce about a social-climbing Columbus family trying to get their daughter into upscale Brookstone School where most of the rich kids go, at the Springer Opera House.  And maybe it deserved them, but even though I saw it, I wouldn’t know how funny it was because I couldn’t understand seventy-five percent of what was said.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t hear the lines because I could,  but I couldn’t tell what the actors were saying.  I thought maybe it was just me because a lot of folks were laughing at the punch lines, but when I talked with some others who saw the play they said the same thing. They could hear what was being said but that couldn’t make out the words.  Also, another symptom that it wasn’t just my 80-year-old ears was that when Paul Peirce made his before-the-play announcement I could not only hear him, even though I was on row Q, but I understood every word he said.  I think the actors were relying too much on  their microphones and not making much of an effort to enunciate their words clearly. Yes, it is hard to sound natural when pronouncing words with clarity, but it can be done.  And it needs to be done.

Albany’s “Springer”

April 5, 2010

No, you don’t have to go to New York to see a great play.  You can see one in hundreds of regional theaters around the country.  I have seen many, and even performed in a few, at the Springer Opera House in Columbus, Georgia  and now I have seen an incredibly good one in Albany, Georgia.

My first cousin, once removed, Ray Johnson – actually, Dr. Ray Johnson because he is a retired psychiatrist and every family needs at least one –  invited me to come to Albany to see his wife Joy, a retired RN,  in the Theatre Albany production of “Grace and Glorie.”  

Francie Michas and Joy Johnson, "Gloria" and "Grace," "Grace and Glorie"

In my view, the production was Broadway quality.  It was a two-woman show. Joy played Grace, a dying 90-year-old illiterate West Virginia farm woman, and Francie Michas played Gloria, a young, educated, urbane  hospice worker.  Their generational, cultural, philosophical, and psychological clashes made for not only serious thought, but laugh-out-loud humor. 

"Grace and Glorie" set was designed by Theatre Albany Set Designer Stephen Felmet

Not only was the acting absorbing and, well, brilliant, but the set, the inside of a West Virgina farm cottage,  was as professional as any I have seen.   Stephen Felmet, a self-educated set designer and the only other paid staff member of Theatre Albany – the other one is Director Mark Costello – reminded me of movie and TV drama sets, because it had an incredible amount of detail. Since so many sets are symbolic, it was refreshing to see a good realistic one again.

Theatre Albany is in the 1853 antebellum Captain John A. Davis home

As I was talking with Director Costello, who has been Theatre Albany’s Artistic/Managing Director for 25 years,  during intermission, I pointed out to him that Theatre Albany is Albany’s “Springer” – he was gracious enough not to counter with the Springer is Columbus’  Theatre Albany – because both occupy historic buildings.  There are also a number of other parallels.

While the Springer Opera House dates back to 1871, the Captain John C. Davis House, home of Theatre Albany, is even older, dating back to  1853.  George Washington didn’t sleep there, but Confederate President Jefferson Davis did sit in a chair there, which is on display.  A theater auditorium was  added to the back of the house when Theatre Albany made the home its permanent residence in 1964. 

CSA President Jefferson Davis sat in this chair

I’ve been through Albany a number of times heading for Florida in recent years, but only stopped maybe for lunch, so this was the first time I really visited the city since the early 1960’s.  As program manager for the late Jim Woodruff’s three radio stations in Columbus, Albany, and Bainbridge, I would visit Albany and Bainbridge a couple of times a month. The Albany station, WGPC,  a CBS affiliate, was located in a small building in back of the New Albany Hotel, where I spent the night a few times.  

Back when I was a child, my family would drive down to visit my Aunt Jewell and her family in Albany a few times a year.  They lived just a few blocks away from the New Albany Hotel.  After spending the night at the Johnson’s following the play, as I headed back to Columbus, I decided to check out the downtown area to see how much it has changed.  As far as the buildings are concerned, not much. The New Albany looks as good as it did 50 years ago, but, like the Ralston in downtown Columbus, it is now a retirement hotel.  What has changed is that, unlike the old days when on Saturdays cars and throngs of shoppers occupied  downtown,  there are almost no cars or people.  It’s the same old story of retailers moving out to malls.  Columbus is more active downtown now,  with Columbus State University locating its music, art and drama schools downtown, and with the Springer Opera House and River Center’s three theaters attracting crowds.  For instance, Jerry Seinfeld played at the River Center Thursday night to an almost sold-out crowd. 

All in all, it was a great Albany visit.  We had a fine time conversing about our families, the old times, the new times, theater, music (Ray said all McMichaels are musical, and he’s pretty close to being right), and, yes, even politics.  What did we say about that?  Well, all I can say is we were all on the same page.

Panel Discusses Evolution and Creationism at the Springer Monday

January 22, 2010

DISCUSSION IS HELD IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE SPRINGER”S PRESENTATION OF “INHERIT THE WIND”

Dr. Ian Bond sent the following email to me.

Dr. Ian Bond (Courtesy: Jim Cawthorne, Camera 1)

This week the Springer Opera House will begin a three week run of one of the greatest American plays of the past century, “Inherit the Wind,” to mark the 75th anniversary of the famed “Scopes Monkey Trial.” The play reenacts Clarence Darrow’s squaring off against Williams Jennings Bryan in a Tennessee courtroom on the right of a science teacher to teach evolution in a Tennessee public school. The question of the teaching of evolution and creationism in the classrooms of American public and private schools is still hotly debated today, 201 years after the birth of Charles Darwin.
 
Columbus Technical College Counselor, Dr. Ian Bond, will moderate a panel discussion on Monday, January 25 at 7:00 pm at the Springer Opera House. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.
 
Our panel consists of experts in science and anthropology and professional educators.
 
            Dr. Brian Schwartz (biology professor, CSU)
            Dr. Donald Moeller (former college science teacher)
            Dr. John Studstill (anthropology professor, CSU)
            Dr. David Schwimmer (paleontology professor, CSU)
            Principal Len McWilliams (headmaster, Calvary Christian Schools)
 
This panel of titans ensures a lively, informative, and though-provoking discussion as well as an enjoyable evening at Georgia’s Historic State Theater.

The Return of Eric Barr

April 11, 2009
Not too long after Bob Barr came to Jordan High in 1946 to become the school’s first full-time band director,  band members, including me, became aware that he and Annie Barr had a baby.  A few years later, when Eric Barr wasn’t much more than a toddler,  he was dressed in a drum major’s uniform and marched beside the band’s real drum major.  He had become the band’s mascot.  In time,  he would become the real drum major, himself.
Eric Barr, Jordan Red Jacket Band 1963 Drum Major, from JVHS yearbook (courtesy Barbara Motos)

Eric Barr, Jordan Red Jacket Band 1963 Drum Major, from JVHS yearbook (courtesy Barbara Motos)

Over the years, growing up as the first son of accomplished musicians and educators, Bob and Annie Barr,  he became quite proficient in playing the oboe by the time he became a member of his father’s band.  He was so good that he later ended up as the principal soloist of the Dallas Symphony, a world-class orchestra. 

There were some stops in between.  He went to Oberlin College,  where he met and married Cathy,  who also plays the oboe.  After that, he played in the United States Marine Corps Band in Washington for four years.  “I was drafted,” he told me.  “I could go into the Army and serve two years,  or I could go into the Marine Corps and play in the Marine Corps band for four.  I choose the Marine Corps.”  That had a number of perks, including not having to take basic training.  

Serving those four years was quite memorable for him because he spent a lot of time playing for events at the White House,  because the Marine Corps Band is considered  “the President’s own.”  Jimmy Motos,   respected Columbus educator, musician, clarinetist, vocalist,  announcer for the Bob Barr Community Band, and actor,  and Eric’s best friend in the Bob Barr Jordan Band,  told me that Eric played for both the Johnson and Nixon administrations.  “He played for the weddings of both Johnson and Nixon’s daughters. Eric told me that things were more laid back when Johnson was in the White House – you know,  Southern hospitality and all of that.  But, Nixon was more formal.”

ERIC BARR PLAYS OBOE SOLO "VARIATIONS ON A THEME OF GLINKA" BY RIMSKY-KORSAKOV

ERIC BARR PLAYS OBOE SOLO "VARIATIONS ON A THEME OF GLINKA" BY RIMSKY-KORSAKOV

Eric brought down the house at the Bob Barr Community Band concert at the Springer on Friday, April 3, 2009, when he played an oboe solo.  And, I believe it wasn’t just because he is Bob Barr’s son,  but because the performance was so outstanding,  but then,  that’s what you would expect of man who was the principal oboest for the Dallas Symphony for 33 years before he retired.

Not only did he and Cathy contribute their musical services by playing with the Bob Barr COmmunity Band,  but after dress rehearsal on Thursday night, he presented a check for $1,000 as a gift from the Barr family, which includes his mother,  a sister and a brother. 

I told him, “Not only did you come and play for the band, you left a thousand bucks with it. That was really special.”

“I should have done it long ago, ” he replied.

Yes, it was a very special concert at the Springer,  one I was happy to announce. While, Jimmy  is the regular announcer,  I was asked to announce this concert because I emceed the first concert of the band twenty years ago.  Since the band was formed as a tribute to my Jordan band director Bob Barr,  I was honored to it then and now.

Dick McMichael, Jimmy Motos,  announcers for the Bob Barr Community Band (Photo: courtesy Barbara Motos)

Dick McMichael, Jimmy Motos, announcers for the Bob Barr Community Band (Photo: courtesy Barbara Motos)

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

April 10, 2009

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.