At its 63rd National Convention in St. Augustine, Florida, the American School Band Directors Association named Brother William “Bill” Witcher (Rho Tau Chapter – Appalachian State University – 1971) the Edwin Franko Goldman Award. The award is the highest honor that the association can present to one of its members.
The award is named after Edwin Franko Goldman (Xi Chapter – University of Kansas – 1935), professional band conductor and founder of the American Bandmasters Association. He was an advocate of the creation of ASBDA as a professional organization for public school band directors through an election. The American School Band Directors Association created the Edwin Franko Goldman award as a symbol of high esteem and respect. It is an outward display of appreciation and gratitude for outstanding personal contributions to the school band movement.
Brother Witcher is a native of Virginia. He attended Appalachian State University, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree in 1974 and his Master of Music degree in 1987. While receiving his Master’s degree, he was a Graduate Assistant in the School of Music, working with the Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, and teaching brass methods, private trumpet, and music appreciation. His Master’s thesis, a correlation study of music instruction and brain development, was nominated for an outstanding thesis award. He completed further postgraduate study at Florida State University.
Brother Witcher was a student teacher with the famed Lenoir High School Band before the school closed a few years later in 1977. He has taught in public schools in Madison County, VA, Thomasville City, Rowan County, and Iredell County. For a time, he served as the band director at Hibriten High School, which has long been acknowledged for its musical excellence. The Hibriten Band has earned consistent Superior ratings at the North Carolina State Music Festival in Grade VI music since the opening of Hibriten in 1966. The last 9 Superiors occurred during Witcher’s tenure at Hibriten.
Brother Witcher also taught Advanced Placement Music Theory at Hibriten. During his time at Hibriten, the Hibriten Band traveled to New York City 3 times, Atlanta, GA, and Toronto, Canada participating in national music festivals, which earned additional Superior ratings from a national slate of adjudicators. In 2000, the Hibriten Band received the honor of being selected to perform for the North Carolina Bandmasters. Additionally, the Hibriten Band received the coveted Ensemble of Excellence while at the 2002 New York Festival as the top overall band of the Festival. Witcher retired four years later, in 2006, after 32 years as a band director at Caldwell County Schools.
Since retirement, Brother Witcher has been a member of the adjunct faculty at ASU, teaching brass method courses and serving as the Academic Advisor for the School of Music. He has also been on the staff of Cannon Music Camp directing the Symphonic Band and teaching music theory. Witcher is a former President of the Northwest District Bandmasters and has run the Middle School State Band Festival.
Witcher’s remarks after the presentation at the final banquet of the convention included a history he shared with Cpt. James C. Harper (Gamma Kappa Chapter – Davidson College – 1941), founder of the Lenoir High School Band in 1924. Harper was the first recipient of the Goldman Award in 1964. Little did Witcher know that 48 years later, he would share the very same moment with Harper.
Congratulations on this honor, Brother!