1963 Southern Division MENC Held in WV

A Once In A Lifetime Opportunity

"Notes da Capo" by John Puffenbarger

The competition was very fierce. Delegates from Florida, represented by a convention bureau, presented a film highlighting the features that Miami provided. Other states also had well-organized presentations. Several states in the MENC Southern Division wanted the 1963 convention held in their cities.

It was now or never for West Virginia. The West Virginia delegation realized that being such a small state, it might never have another opportunity to host a convention. Richard Wellock, Leland Arnold, and Saul Fisher attended the Southern Division convention planning meeting. They held one card that might sway the committee their way.

1963 was West Virginia's Centennial year. The West Virginia delegation had convinced the Governor's office and the Charleston Chamber of Commerce to provide funding for the convention. Finally, the Southern Division planning board realized this may well be the only time West Virginia could host such an event, so they awarded the meeting to our state.

Many WVMEA activities in 1962 were in preparation for the 1963 Southern Division Conference. The West Virginia Bandmasters Association organized the West Virginia All-State High School Band. Tryouts were held and the band presented its first concert at the 1962 WVMEA Conference. This conference was held in Charleston as a dress rehearsal for the 1963 conference. The purpose was to see if the all-state groups were effectively organized. It also gave the local committee a chance to see if things worked properly.

Prior to 1962, the West Virginia Bandmasters Association was not affiliated with WVMEA or MENC. After much contemplation, Saul Fisher, WVMEA president, and Walter Moore, Bandmasters president, decided to bring the matter to a vote. At the next WVMEA general business meeting, Walter Moore moved that the Bandmasters Association be affiliated with WVMEA. Much to his delight, the motion passed without any opposition.

The 1963 MENC Southern Division Conference was held at the Charleston Civic Center March 20-23. It took a great deal of work on the part of the local committee to host the four-day affair.

One of the outstanding speakers at the event was Stanley Chapple from the University of Washington, Seattle. L. K. Lovenstein, Superintendent of Kanawha County 10 Schools, attended the opening session where Mr. Chapple spoke. He was so impressed that he asked Saul Fisher when Mr. Chapple would be speaking again.

WVMEA held its conference during the Southern Division meeting. It was limited, however, to a one-hour business meeting. The West Virginia AH-State high school band, orchestra, and chorus performed. Other performing groups from West Virginia included: Fairmont Senior High School Choraliers, Betty Knapp, director; Marshall University Symphonic Choir, Lee W Fisher, director; South Charleston Jr. High School Band, John P Jarvis, director; and the West Virginia University Opera Group, Joseph Goltz, director. These groups applied to perform at the Southern Division MENC Conference.

As VVVMEA president, Saul Fisher had the honor of leading the conference in the "Star Spangled Banner." West Virginia's once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host the MENC Southern Division Conference became a reality.