Bring on the band

For the 19th year, the American Band College Directors Band will perform in the Rogue Valley. The first performance will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, at the Ginger Roger Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central, Medford. The second performance will be annual Fourth of July Fireworks Concert at the Ashland High School Football Stadium. Pre-concert music by small groups of ABC band members begins at 7 p.m.

The concert by the two 110-member Directors' Bands will begin at 8 p.m. Families are encouraged to bring blankets and picnic on the grounds. The last 30 minutes of the show coincides with the Ashland fireworks display.

Entitled "Sing, Sing, Sing," the program at the Craterian will feature several big-band era jazz tunes including "A Dixieland Musical Journey Through New Orleans," a medley of tunes from that area. Soloist for this show is New Orleans trombonist and Yamaha Artist Harry Watters. Conductors are Frank Wickes, director of bands at Louisiana State University, and Philippe Langlet, president of the Dunkerque Conservatory of Music in France. Having out-grown the stage at the Craterian, the 200 band directors are divided into two bands, with each band performing half of the evening's show.

Prior to the concerts, from June 21-July 4, 200 middle school, high school and college band directors from throughout the United States come to Southern Oregon University to learn from 25 world-class clinicians in two one-week sessions at the American Band College. Most directors are part of the three-year masters degree program; some already have earned their masters from the program but are returning to be part of what has been described as "summer camp for band directors" and to be inspired in their own teaching efforts.

Founded by professor emeritus Max McKee in 1989, The American Band College began as an undergraduate training program at Southern Oregon University. Simultaneously, the summer program began as a means of bringing outstanding teachers to the campus. McKee subsequently retired from his professorship to devote his time to running the American Band College. His son Scott McKee, himself a former high school band director, has joined the program.

In 1992, the Oregon State Board of Higher Education approved the American Band College Masters Degree program. The first year 13 candidates enrolled, receiving their degrees in 1994. This year there are 200 master degree candidates enrolled coming from most states and a few foreign countries.

The June 26 Craterian show's soloist Watters serves with the Army Blues Jazz Ensemble and is the newest member of the United States Army Brass Quintet in Washington, DC. He has performed with Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Erich Kunzel, Shirley Jones, Peter Nero, Kevin Mahogany, Wycliffe Gordon, Joe Piscopo, Maureen McGovern, Bill Watrous, Carl Fontana, Jiggs Whiggam, Tom "Bones Malone" and James Moody. In addition Watters has appeared as a featured soloist with the West Virginia Symphony, the Syracuse Symphony, the Baton Rouge Symphony, the Tulsa Pops, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Janacek Philharmonic, the Kishinev Festival Orchestra and the U.S. Army Orchestra. After graduation from the University of North Texas, Watters spent four years touring and recording with the Dukes of Dixieland. He attended the University of New Orleans serving as graduate assistant to Professor Ellis Marsalis.

Tickets for the ABC Directors Band concert at the Craterian are $16 for adults, $12 for seniors 62 and up, and $7 for children under 12.

Tickets for the Fourth of July Fireworks Concert are $16 for adults, $12 for seniors 62 and up. Children under 12 will be admitted free with a paying adult. Tickets are available at Cripple Creek Music and on-line at .

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