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Rusty Courson, ABA President                            
Rusty Courson

Wow!!! I know that we say this just about every year, but our 2015 All-State Festival Concert has to be among the best that I remember in my 26 years as a band director. Our students definitely rose to the occasion and I can’t wait until my CD of the performance arrives so I can listen to it again!!!

Our clinicians are definitely to be commended for doing an outstanding job: Robert W. Smith (Red Band), Richard Saucedo (White Band), Ken Bodiford (Blue Band), and Carla Gallahan (Middle School Band). In Robert’s case, how cool is it that he was actually a member of the Red Band three years running while in high school, and after a very successful career as a band director, college professor, and composer, he actually had the opportunity to return and conduct the band that he played in all those years ago!!!

In addition, many thanks to David Pryor, Will Mixon, and the directors of District VII for providing percussion equipment, manning information tables, moving from the convention center to the civic center for the concert, and so many other behind the scene details that we probably don’t even know about. Last but not least, we should remember the dedication of our band hosts as well, as they selflessly devote their time at all-state every year: James Ed Champion (Red Band), Damon McAllister (White Band), Heather Henson (Blue Band), and Connie Hammond (Middle School Band).

A special thanks as well to the music faculty at the University of South Alabama for hosting our solo contest on Wednesday. Their facilities proved to be a great venue for the event!!! The historic Saenger Theatre in downtown Mobile was also a tremendous location for our host night concert as well. The University of South Alabama Wind Ensemble and their conductor, Dr. Will Petersen, provided us with an outstanding concert that I’m sure we’ll remember for years to come!!!

We will return to Mobile for all-state in 2016. As I’ve shared with you previously, the board unanimously voted to accept the offer to hold all-state in Montgomery for 2017 and 2018. While we should be accustomed to the facility (since we have been there for AMEA several times recently), this will be a new experience for most of our kids. Although Mobile and Huntsville have proved to be great locations for our all-state festival, I look forward to seeing what Montgomery has to offer as well.

Hopefully you’ve already made plans to attend our summer convention this year. This is a great opportunity to pick up a little professional development, have an opportunity to socialize with our colleagues from throughout the state, and even enjoy a little beach time and/or play a little golf. The ABA Board and the Music Selection Committee will meet all day on Tuesday, June 23rd, and the general membership will gather on Wednesday, June 24th and Thursday, June 25th. I’m sure our incoming President, Mike Holmes, has some great clinics planned!!! The conference hotel will once again be the Hampton Inn and Suites in Orange Beach. Registration information is located on the front page of the ABA webpage at www.alabamamea.org/bandmasters/index. If you get your registration postmarked to Harry McAfee by May 30th there is a $20.00 discount…so send it in now!!!

Thanks so much to those that are rotating off the board for your service to our organization: Keith Anderson (District I), John McCombs (District III), Michelle Gann (District V), and David Pryor (District VII). I would also like to thank all of you for the opportunity to serve as your President over the past two years. It has truly been an honor to be selected among your peers to lead our professional organization. As I shared with you at our last general business meeting in Mobile, I could not have gotten through the last two years without your help, and I can honestly tell you that I don’t recall one instance when I called on someone for help that they didn’t say yes. Please continue to fill those roles as needed, and most importantly, reach out to the new directors in your area and offer to help them as well (and new directors…ACCEPT THEIR HELP!!!). I distinctly remember my first years as a director and feeling lost. Fortunately, I wasn’t shy and didn’t mind asking someone else how to do something!!! In closing, I wish our incoming President Mike Holmes and our incoming President-Elect Doug Farris the very best over the next two years!

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