Indiana State University Newsroom

Symphonic Band celebrates longtime band director George Graesch April 9

April 2, 2013

Indiana State University's Symphonic Band will present an evening of music honoring a longtime director of bands during "George Graesch: A Concert of Celebration" at 7:30 p.m. April 9 in Tilson Auditorium. The concert will also feature guest conductors, who were former colleagues and students of Graesch - Gary E. Smith, Cynthia Wagoner, and William K. Wakefield.

A pre-reception with entertainment my emeriti professor John Spicknall begins at 6 p.m. in Heritage Lounge and a reception will follow the concert. Former students and colleagues are invited to bring photos and their favorite memories to share with Graesch.

Graesch devoted more than 37 years of his professional life to music education. Graesch, the longest serving director of bands in university history, retired in 1984 from Indiana State following a 31-year career. Graesch earned his bachelor's ('47) and master's ('48) degrees in music education at Indiana State. While at Indiana State, he was involved in Blue Key, served as a charter member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, received the Bright Distinguished Service Medal in band, and served as a graduate assistant in bands from 1947-48. Graesch served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years in Guam and Iwo Jima as an assistant band director of the Third Marine Division and as show band director for the Iwo Jima Campaign.

The works performed April 9 will include "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copeland, "October" by Eric Whitacre, "National Emblem" by E.F. Bagley, "Symphonic Suite" by Clifton Williams, "Where the Highways Cross" by Harold Bright, "Esprit de Corps" by Robert Jager, "Irish Tune and Shepherd's Hey" by Percy Grainger, "Pines of the Appian Way " by Ottorino Resphigi, and "Stars and Stripes Forever"by John Philip Sousa.

Smith served as assistant director of bands and Marching Band Director at Indiana State from 1972-76. He conducted the Symphonic Band and the 275 members of the "Marching Sycamores" who performed on national television during broadcasts of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Chicago Bears, and The Cleveland Browns. He also taught Band Arranging and Marching Band Methods. Presently he serves as the producer of the annual Disney Thanksgiving Parade of Bands held at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. In addition, Smith has served as guest conductor for many Allstate and honor bands throughout the United States.

Wagoner is an assistant professor of music education at East Carolina University, specializing in instrumental music instruction and research areas of music teacher identity, music cognition, and curricular integration of music and science. She has a Ph.D. (Music Education), from The University of North Carolina Greensboro, and an M.S. and B.S. (Music Education, Oboe) from Indiana State, studying oboe with William Denton and playing under the baton of Smith, Herman Knoll, Graesch, and Wakefield. While in Indiana, she was named most influential teacher, and was recognized as Student Council Outstanding Teacher at Plymouth High School twice.

Wakefield is professor of music, director of bands and division head of Instrumental Applied and Ensembles at the University of Oklahoma School of Music. From 1980-1983 Wakefield served on the Indiana State music faculty under the tutelage of Graesch. As assistant director of bands, Wakefield conducted the Marching Band, the Men's Basketball Band, and the Symphonic Band while also teaching marching band procedures for instrumental music education majors. From 1984-1985, he served as Director of Bands while conducting the Wind Ensemble for campus concerts in Tilson Auditorium and on spring concert tours to the Chicago region, Ball State University, and schools in the Evansville area and Jasper. While at Indiana State, Graesch and Wakefield started the Midwest Marching Band Festival while also continuing to host the ISSMA State Marching Contest at Memorial Stadium.

Admission to the event is free and attendance by campus and community members is encouraged. For more information, contact the School of Music at 812-237-2771.

Contact: Roby George, director of bands, School of Music, Indiana State University, 812-237-2752, or

 Writer: Ebonie Lamb, arts marketing intern, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University,