"Bandmasters Consider Affiliation"

NOTES DA CAPO by John L. Puffenbarger

October 1997

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

Final full affiliation of the West Virginia Bandmasters Association (WVBA) with the WVMEA and MENC was effected as of 1 July 1963-the West Virginia centennial year. Affiliation meant unified dues, and members could no longer join just one organization. Henceforth the annual business meeting of the bandmasters would be held in conjunction with the WVMEA Conference each spring.

On 22 March 1963 the WVBA changed its constitution so that terms of office and of standing committees of the affiliated organizations within the WVMEA would be the same. Terms of office became two years instead of one, and elections would be held on the odd-numbered years. There was additional controversy considering this decision as some band directors questioned if this was a wise move.

During the early years of the Huntington state band festival, which began in 1936, outstanding students were selected to perform at the festival in what was known as the "All-State High School Band." Although theoretically all schools in the state were eligible to enter this festival, transportation difficulties were such that participation was predominantly from southern West Virginia. When four area festivals were established in 1957, the title "All-State Band" was also applied to the selected bands from each classification within each area. In reality these bands were "All-Area Bands." They were classified "A," "B," and "c" (later known as "AAA," "AA," and "A").

In the spring of 1962 the WVBA sponsored only the All-State High School Band and held auditions for membership in each of the four areas that currently existed for festival purposes. At the WVBA general business meeting 23 March 1962 at Morris Harvey College (now the University of Charleston), a motion passed that area festival concert bands no longer use the title "All-State". Henceforth there would be only one All-State High School Band, and it would perform each year at the WVMEA Conference.

Interest in auditioning for the All-State Band has grown over the years. Each year an average of a thousand students throughout West Virginia participate in the tryouts. Usually about forty to fifty bands are represented in the band out of the 120 or so secondary schools in the state. Adjudicators usually come from state university and college music departments, and auditions normally are held over a three-day period about the second weekend in January.

The size of the WVMEA All-State High School Band has not changed much since 1962, and it usually numbers about 120 students. Each year an outstanding, nationally known conductor is selected to direct the young musicians. The West Virginia All-State Band has consistently performed an outstanding concert.