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Directors Icons Panel - Reflections on the Past; Thoughts About the Future

  • thumbnail for Alfred Watkins
  • TBD
  • Alfred Watkins (awatbnd@aol.com)
  • 12/14/2016 04:00 PM - 05:00 PM
  • Alfred L. Watkins was Director of Bands at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Georgia for 31 years. For six years prior to joining Lassiter, Watkins served as Director of Bands at Murphy High School in the Atlanta Public Schools. Bands and ensembles under Watkins’ direction have performed six times at the Midwest Band Clinic, eight performances at the Bands Of America National Concert Band Festival, seven performances at the Georgia Music Educators Association In-Service Conference and three times at the NBA/CBDNA Southern Division Conference. The symphonic band has performed on the college campuses of the University of Georgia (5), Florida State University, the University of South Carolina and Troy State University. The Lassiter Flute Choir, Clarinet Choir, Trumpet Ensemble, Trombone Choir, Percussion Ensemble and Marching Trojan Band have all performed on the national stage. The Lassiter Percussion Ensemble has performed twice at the Midwest Clinic, three times at the National Percussion Festival, four times at the Georgia Music Educators Association In-Service Conference and at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC). The Lassiter Marching Band was the 1998 and 2002 Bands of America Grand National Champion and the band also won nine BOA Regional Championships, winning music in 14 of their 18 BOA marching events. Under Watkins’ leadership, the band also participated in four Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parades, three times in NY’s Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade, twice in the Orange Bowl Parade and once in the Florida Citrus Bowl Parade. During Mr. Watkins’ Lassiter tenure, all four (or five) Lassiter concert bands received consecutive Superior Ratings from 1993 until his retirement in 2013, with the top two bands performing in Grade VI for seventeen consecutive years. The band program is one of only sixteen high bands in America to have received both the Sudler Flag of Honor for concert and the Sudler Shield for marching. The Lassiter Winter Color Guard was named 1996 and 1997 Winter Guard International World Champions in Scholastic “A” and Scholastic “Open.” Mr. Watkins is a member of the Florida A & M University Gallery of Distinguished Alumni, the American Bandmasters Association, the Georgia Chapter of the Phi Beta Mu Hall of Fame and the Bands of America Hall of Fame. He has received seventeen Certificates of Excellence from the National Band Association, the Sudler Order of Merit from the John Philip Sousa Foundation and the Band World Magazine Legion of Honor. In 2002, he was honored in the U.S. House of Representatives Congressional Record for outstanding achievement. Mr. Watkins is Co-Founder, Conductor and Musical Director of the Cobb Wind Symphony, an all-adult community band based in the Atlanta area, which in 2009, earned the Sudler Silver Scroll Award presented to outstanding community bands in America and has performed twice at the Midwest Clinic. In 1996, Mr. Watkins was Associate Director for the Atlanta Olympic Marching Band that performed in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. In 2008, Mr. Watkins was nominated to receive the prestigious Turknett Leadership Character Award from the Turknett Leadership Group, a Metro Atlanta Leadership Consultant firm. He was the first public school educator to have been nominated for this award. In 2009 and 2010, two doctoral dissertations were written (Sue Samuels, Auburn University and Matt Thomas, FSU) centered around his life and work surrounding the Lassiter Band Program. In 2013, he was awarded the Distinguished Career Award from GMEA. In 2013, Mr. Watkins was selected by a panel almost a thousand band directors in an online poll as “One of the Admired Band Directors in America.” In 2013, he was a recipient of the Image Award by the 100 Black Men Organization of North Atlanta and the Flourish Award sponsored by Kennesaw State University. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Minority Band Directors National Association, an organization formed in the summer of 2011, whose purpose is to serve, promote, celebrate and mentor minority band directors throughout America. The $1.5 million Alfred L. Watkins Band Building at Lassiter High School bears his name. In 2014, and as a retirement gift for 37 years of teaching, Watkins’ former students and friends commissioned composers Mark Camphouse and James Curnow to write works honoring Mr. Watkins and his career: “Second Essay for Symphonic Band” and “Lexus for Solo Trumpet, Winds and Percussion.” In 2014, Watkins received the Edwin Franko Goldman Award from the American School Band Directors Association for outstanding contribution to the advancement of school bands. He and his wife for 32 years, Rita, live in Marietta. They have two adult sons, Chris, a trumpeter in The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” and Jonathan, a businessman living in San Diego.
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  • John Thomson
  • John A. Thomson served for twenty-five years as Director of Bands at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. Earlier in his career, he was Director of Bands at East Allegheny High School near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Under his educational leadership, NTHS and EAHS ensembles developed into premiere ensembles performing at numerous state and national events including three appearances at the prestigious Midwest Clinic in Chicago. The ensembles regularly performed with established guest conductors, accompanied well-known solo artists, and collaborated with various contemporary composers leading to sixteen world premiere performances. Additionally, the New Trier Wind Ensemble successfully completed concert tours in Europe, Hawaii and Australia. For many summers, Mr. Thomson conducted student and staff bands at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan, and has conducted the camp’s International Band throughout Europe. Currently, Mr. Thomson is an adjunct faculty at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, observes student teachers for Northwestern University, and is active as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator, including four All-State Band performances. He is a contributing editor and new music reviewer for The Instrumentalist Magazine with multiple articles and interviews to his credit. A native of Pennsylvania, Mr. Thomson received his bachelors and masters degrees from Carnegie Mellon University in trombone performance and music education, where he studied with Richard Strange and Philip Catelinet. While completing course work towards a PhD in Music Education at Northwestern University, he served for two years as a Teaching Assistant in both the departments of Conducting and Music Education, where he studied with John Paynter and Bennett Reimer. Mr. Thomson is an elected member of the American Bandmasters Association, a multiple recipient of the National Band Association’s Citation of Excellence, and a recipient of the American School Band Directors Association’s Stanbury Award. Regional recognition includes the Chicagoland Music Educator of the Year Award sponsored by Quinlin and Fabish Music Company, and the “Mr. Holland’s Opus” Award sponsored by Bob Rogers Travel. He was a recipient of the Phi Beta Mu Illinois Outstanding Bandmaster Award and has been elected into that fraternity’s Band Director’s Hall of Fame at Northwestern University. He serves on the ABA Goldman Citation Award Committee, the ABA Sousa/Ostwald Composition Award Committee, and the NBA Revelli Composition Award Committee. Interested in public service, he is currently a member of his community’s Human Relations Commission. For more information, go to his website at: johnathomson.com
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  • Paula Crider
  • Following a distinguished 33 year teaching career, Professor Paula A. Crider continues to share her passion for making music through an active schedule as guest conductor, lecturer, clinician and adjudicator. She has enjoyed engagements in 47 states, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Spain and Australia. Professor Crider has taught in the public schools at all levels, and holds the unique distinction of having been the ?rst female in the state of Texas to serve as director of bands at a class 5-A high school. Her Crockett High School Bands in Austin, Texas enjoyed both state and national recognition for musical excellence on the concert stage, and were twice named Texas 5A State Marching Champions. A tenured Full Professor at The University of Texas, Professor Crider conducted the Symphony Band, and was Director of the acclaimed University of Texas Longhorn Band. During her 17 year tenure, she was twice accorded the “Eyes of Texas” Award for distinguished teaching. She continues to serve as visiting guest professor at universities throughout the country. She has written numerous articles for The Instrumentalist, The Band Director's Guide, the National Band Association Journal, and has published manuals for Brass Techniques, Marching Band Methods and Instrumental Conducting. She is co-author for the Hal Leonard “Masterwork Studies” series, and author of The Composer's Legacy, Conductors on Conducting for Wind Band published by GIA. Professor Crider has presented professional teacher seminars throughout the United States, and has served as Chief Adjudicator for the London New Year’s Day Parade. She is coordinator for the National Band Association Young Conductor/Mentor Program, is an Educational Consultant for Conn-Selmer, Inc., and serves on the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference Board of Directors. Crider is a Past President of the National Band Association, and the American Bandmaster's Association. Awards and honors include the Tau Beta Sigma/Kappa Kappa Psi Distinguished Service to Music Award, the Sudler Legion of Merit, The Women Band Director's International Rose, The Grainger Society Medal, the National Band Association AWAPA Award, 2004 Texas Bandmaster of the Year, Phi Beta Mu Hall of Fame, and the Midwest Medal of Honor. In 2013, she was honored with a Doctor of Music Education Honoris Causa from the Vandercook School of Music. She was inducted into both the Women Band Directors International and the National Band Association Hall of Fame, and in 2015 was elected to the Phi Beta Mu International Hall of Fame.
  • John Casagrande
  • John E. Casagrande is currently serving as the Executive Administrator of the National Band Association, “The World’s Largest Organization of Band Directors”. His duties include overseeing the digital areas of the group as well as the liaison to its Corporate Members. He served as Director of Bands at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax County, Virginia from 1982-2000, Mount Vernon (VA) High School from 1978-1982, East Stroudsburg (PA) from 1968-1978 and in the Wissahickon (PA) schools from 1963-1968. Receiving both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Ithaca College where he was graduate assistant to the legendary Walter Beeler, Casagrande has also done graduate study at Temple University, West Chester University, Hartt School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, the University of Virginia and George Mason University. Mr. Casagrande joined the faculty of George Mason University as an adjunct professor in the fall of 1997 as conductor of the Symphonic Band. He was promoted to Associate Professor and Music Education Department Chair in August of 2003 and taught courses in Music Education, Chamber Winds, Wind Literature and Licensure as well as Student Teacher supervisor until 2010. Bands under Mr. Casagrande’s direction have performed at three National Concert Band Festivals in Chicago and Indianapolis, the national convention of the Music Educators National Conference, two conventions of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, the Mid-East Instrumental Music Conference, three conventions of the Virginia Music Educators Association, the annual convention of the Southern District of the College Band Directors National Association, two Orange Bowl parades, two Cherry Blossom Parades and eight National Football League games. Special performances have also been made for former Governor and United States Senator Charles Robb of Virginia, former Governor George Allen of Virginia, former Vice-President George H. Bush and the King and Queen of Spain. Traveling with several honor groups, Mr. Casagrande has conducted throughout England, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland. In 1998, Mr. Casagrande was elected to membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. Other honors include election to the American School Band Directors Association, five “Citations of Excellence” from the National Band Association, the Sudler Flag of Honor, the “Mac Award” from First Chair of America, “Who’s Who in American Education”, “Who’s Who in America”, the East Stroudsburg High School “Music Hall of Fame”, five awards for “Professional Excellence” from the Fairfax County School Board, W.T. Woodson High School “Teacher of the Year” and finalist for Fairfax County “Teacher of the Year”. He has also been cited by the US House of Representatives, the Virginia House of Delegates, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County Board of Education for his professional accomplishments. Mr. Casagrande’s professional affiliations include: Fairfax County Band Directors’ Association (Founding President), Music Educators National Conference (National Conference Selection Committee), National Band Association (Virginia State Chairman and a three-term member of the National Executive Board), National Association of Jazz Educators, Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association (District Chairman and Marching Band Committee), College Band Directors National Association, John Philip Sousa Foundation (Laureate and member of the Board of Directors) and the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles. Mr. Casagrande maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor and adjudicator throughout the United States and Canada. He has served as a guest lecturer at numerous colleges and universities in the East and Midwest. He has written for the PMEA “Notes”, VMEA “Notes”, the National Band Association “NBA Journal” and the Washington Post. He is also a contributing writer to “The Music Director’s Cookbook – Recipes for A Successful Program”, published by Meredith Music Publications.
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