Issue: October-December 2009
Bandworld Magazine Page


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by M. Max McKee  Bio


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The Start of It All

Back in 1973, on the recommendation of good friend and composer, Alfred Reed, Nell and I started our annual treks to Chicago for the Midwest Band Clinic. Each year we carved out time for dinner with the Reeds and subsequently met many interesting people in the band business. In December 1978, Nell was unable to make the trip to Chicago so I was joined by my former student and close friend, Gary Wiese (See Funny #11). On the return flight, I turned to Gary and said, "We need something like that in the western part of the United States."

Within months, Scott Taylor (an outstanding Southern Oregon College graduate from 1973) and I had a plan in place that turned into Western International Band Clinic by January 1980 at the Cultural and Convention Center in San Jose, California. We drew outstanding bands from Michigan, Louisiana and Georgia as well as Washington, Oregon and California. Clinicians for the first WIBC included Tim Lautzenheiser, Russ Howland, John O'Reilly and Rich Matteson with Randall Spicer as Master of Ceremonies. WIBC featured 8 concerts, 6 clinics and a small exhibit hall.

One of the special concerts presented was by the Southern Oregon College Symphonic Band that included an original concert production of "The Great Adventure." This was a full-blown children's story musical that included 16 songs and fully-costumed cast. Written by talented, principal trombonist, John Adamson, there was an audience of more than 3800 grade schools students plus directors attending WIBC.

Though director attendance was less than 100, due in part to the recent passing of Proposition 5 that devastated many school music programs in the state of California, the result encouraged us to continue with the Western International Band Clinic concept.

The Europe Catalyst

In the same time period, the Great Adventure played in nearly 25 performance between 1979 and summer 1980 with proceeds providing a strong foundation for the Southern Oregon College Band's European tour in the 1980. The 128-member contingent toured England, France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany over several weeks presenting concerts with the help of our composer friends, Ida Gotkovsky (in Les Lessarts, France) and Bertold Hummel (at the Höchschüle für Musik in Würzburg, Germany).

WIBC Continues and Grows

Seeing the handwriting on the wall in California, we opted to move the 2nd annual WIBC to the downtown Hilton Hotel in Portland, Oregon just 10 months later. This established November as the preferred month for the convention, which by the 5th convention in 1983 now drew nearly 300 directors, featured an ever-expanding exhibit hall, a Directors' Band to present the final concert and start of annual commission-work projects.

Next time: The Commission Works.



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