Photo of Western Carolina University Marching Band by Jolesch Photography
The John Philip Sousa Foundation has announced its latest slate of award winners, considered by some to be the highest honors that marching bands can receive.
Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band won the 2009 Sudler Trophy, awarded each year to a collegiate marching band that has demonstrated excellence over many years. Indiana University won in 2007 (read our Q&A with Dave Woodley); there was no winner selected in 2008.
The band, from Cullowhee, NC, has grown rapidly and earned much recognition under the direction of Bob Buckner. The group will be presented with the traveling trophy, plaques and certificates at a home football game in October. WCU has invited all its alumni for a full reunion to celebrate the prestigious honor.
“It’s very satisfying because I am a graduate of WCU (class of ’67) and I’ve been around this program,” Buckner says. “To see the bands getting better over the last 20 years and seeing that kind of excellence makes me so proud. I feel like people are making a big deal about the director, but it’s really about the band and the staff.”
Four groups received the 2008 Sudler Shield, described as “an international award recognizing high school, youth and international marching bands of world-class excellence.”
- Broken Arrow (Okla.) High School Band
- Coppell (Texas) High School Band
- Tarpon Springs (Fla.) High School Band
- Musica Grato High School Band from Himi, Toyama-Ken, Japan
This is the first time that four bands have been honored in one year, according to W. Dale Warren, chairman of the award’s jury and director of concert bands at the University of Arkansas in Fayettville.
The Sousa Foundation conducts a lengthy process of nominations, submission of materials, juries and committees that make the final decisions. In addition to the marching band awards, the organization also gives out honors to concert bands, military bands, community bands and individual directors as well as provides student scholarships.