Issue: Apr-June 2006
Bandworld Magazine Page


. . .GUNNISON, COLORADO 1956: A. A. Harding...William D. Revelli...Raphael Mendez...Charles Minelli...Al and Gladys Wright...Paul Yoder

An amazing opportunity while in the 8th grade soon put me in touch with many of the "Greats" in our business.



Chapter 2 by M. Max McKee

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In addition, my parents decided to attend the adult vocal group sessions of the Gunnison Music Camp at Western State College in Colorado in the summer of 1956. Along with my new lesson plan, they asked if I would like to go and play clarinet in one of the student bands, which just happened to be conducted by two rather well-known men: William D. Revelli and Charles Minelli!!

I was so poor as a clarinet player I was assigned to the 3rd clarinets in Charlie Minelli's 2nd band; but, while in Gunnison I heard concert after concert featuring such people as:
  • Famed trumpet soloist, Raphael Mendez
  • William D. Revelli, First Band conductor
  • Charles Minelli, Second Band conductor

I saw Al and Gladys Wright and got autographs from A. A. Harding, Paul Yoder, Charles Minelli and many others. Most important of all, it introduced me to the real band world and subconsciously I stored observations that resurfaced as mainstays of the American Band College over 30 years later.

Fortunately for me, I later struck up a strong friendship with Al and Gladys Wright and had them as lecturers for the first American Band College in 1989 and then again in 2005. It was Gladys Wright who (never knowing that I had been to Gunnison) observed, "You wouldn't know anything about a fantastic camp that used to exist in Gunnison, Colorado, but ABC somehow reminds me of the way that felt." A great compliment and another of those amazing CONNECTIONS.

HELP US IDENTIFY other important people in this photo, especially students who later became band directors because of the Gunnison experience. Email: And don't miss the chance to get a free lifetime subscription to Bandworld Magazine by identifying 8th grader Max McKee in the photo below.

Next time: 50 years later, the A. A. Harding Connection
In the spring of 1956, I played the worst version ever of "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep" (Laurendeau) as a clarinet soloist at district festival in western Washington. My contest judge was Robert Miller (a local band director who went to Washington State University in 1957 to teach woodwinds and music ed. He knew my father, George McKee, who taught music in the Auburn schools just 10 miles away (1943-1977).

After I finished playing he asked my dad if I could "take some heat." Dad said, "Yes," and Bob Miller proceeded to tell me to "get busy and take lessons or quit."

After the shock of it, I asked my parents about lessons, about which they were delighted since they could never convince me to seriously study with either of them (dad clarinet and mom piano)!  (Story continues far right.)

Closeups from the camp photo of the 1956 Gunnison Music Camp in Colorado.
Faculty included Paul Yoder (1), Mark Hindsley (3), Charles Minelli (5), and William D. Revelli (R).

More closeups of faculty on the Gunnison (Colorado) Music Camp faculty in 1956.
Others in front row below are A. A. Harding(1), Al & Gladys Wright (5&6), and Raphael Mendez (R).

Gunnison Music Camp • Western State College • Colorado • 1956
Gunnison Music Camp • Western State College • Colorado • 1956