"By Train To Seattle"

NOTES DA CAPO - By John Puffenbarger
November, 1997

(This is the fourth in a series of short articles on the history of the West Virginia Bandmasters Association by Owen West and John Puffenbarger).

The West Virginia Bandmasters Association decided to organize an An-State High School Band in the spring of 1962. This resulted in an eighty-piece band whose members represented thirty-five high schools, and the band presented a concert on 24 March 1962 at the WVMEA Conference in Charleston. Glenn Cliffe Bainum, director emeritus of the Northwestern University bands, was the guest conductor.

After the Conference the Bandmasters Association received an invitation for the 1962 band to represent West Virginia at the Seattle World's Fair in June 1962. Band members traveled to Seattle by train, and Dr. Lawrence Kingsbury conducted the band at the concert in Seattle.

Thereafter the All-State Band began to perform at other functions than just the WVMEA Conference. The 1963 band became the "West Virginia Centennial All- State High School Band" and played on the "West Virginia Night" program at the Southern Division MENC convention in Charleston. During the summer this group took the title of "The Governor's Centennial Band of West Virginia" and traveled to present concerts in Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. Francis Borkowski of West Virginia University served as director.

In 1964 Donald McGinnis, director of The Ohio State University Concert Band, was guest conductor for the AVMEA All-State Band at the Conference in Huntington. One hundred eleven student musicians were selected for this band. The Bandmasters Association received an invitation for the band to perform at the West Virginia Pavilion at the New York World's Fair in June 1964. For this occasion J. Loran Mercer of Warwood High School in Wheeling was conductor.

The BandmastersAssociation continued to arrange summer tours for the All-State Band. However, it was difficult to draw crowds to hear the band when then. were out- of-state and not part of a special event such as a world's fair. Since seniors in the band usually had summer jobs, the group's membership had to be adjusted, and sometimes because of personnel changes the performance quality was not the same.

In the late 1960s a trip to Florida proved to be difficult to arrange. Many students in the original band could not go, and replacements were hard to find. Moreover, arrangements in Florida were not up to par. After that trip, the Bandmasters Association voted to discontinue future summer tours.