The WVBA Develops Regional Festivals

"Notes da Capo" by John L. Puffenbarger

April/May, 1997

(Part two of a series of short articles on the West Virginia Bandmasters Association's history by Owen West and John Puffenbarger).

At the meeting of the Bandmasters Association in Charleston 29 September 1946 a committee was appointed to outline policies that could be acceptable to both the WVBA and the Secondary- Principals Association. This committee reported at several subsequent Bandmasters meetings, and a plan was developed whereby there would be eight regional festivals preceding the state festival. Eight regionals were held in 1948, and two additional regions were established in 1949 to eliminate the long distance some bands had to travel.

In April 1950 the Secondary- Schools Activities Commission or SSAC (the principals' association) approved a recommendation limiting the state festival to bands which had received superior ratings in their respective regions. In a report issued at that time, the SSAC also stated that then, felt the state band festivals should be more closely under their control.

The MVBA discussed this report on 30 April 1950 and wrote a letter of protest to the SSAC outlining their objections. The WVBA did approve a motion to abide with the 1950 ruling restricting participation in the state festival to those bands earning a superior" rating in their regional festivals.

Despite pressure to reduce the size of the state festival in Huntington, 75 bands participated in 1950. Remembering the two festivals - northern and southern - held during World War 11, the Bandmasters recommended at their meeting in October 1955 to divide the state into three areas. Each area would hold a state band festival on the same weekend. This proposition was approved, and later a fourth area was designated. With approval of the SSAC. there were four area band festivals in the spring of 1957. The northern festival was at first in Fairmont. but was moved to Clarksburg in 1958. For a while some parts of the state continued to schedule regional festivals on an optional basis.

Another major area of WVBA activity was a series of annual band clinics which were initiated in 1940. A clinician was employed and high school musicians were selected to perform in a clinic band. This event occurred yearly in Huntington during January. Due to wartime restrictions on travel a similar event was held in Clarksburg in 1943 and 1944 for directors and students in the northern part of the state.

In 1950 the WVBA and WVMEA held a joint music clinic, and for many years this continued at the WVMEA Conference. However, this helped lead to another controversy when the WVMEA suggested that the Bandmasters become an affiliate of the WVMEA. Many band directors wished to keep the two organizations separate.