The Furman Department of Music will present a concert featuring the Symphonic Band Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium. The concert is free and open to the public.
Furman’s Symphonic Band performs a Winter Concert featuring music of celebration and memory, including works by Dimitri Shostakovich (“Festive Overture”), Ukrainian-born composer Catherine Likhuta (“Home Away From Home”), and Roland Lo Presti (“Elegy for a Young American”). The program will also feature student flute soloist Melinda Thompson. The concert is presented in conjunction with the South Carolina Band Directors Association Region 1 Band Clinic, which brings hundreds of students from local middle and high schools to campus for two days of musical experience.
Sue Samuels returned to her alma mater in 2019 as director of bands and coordinator of music education studies. Prior to Furman, she was director of visual and performing arts at Randolph School in Huntsville, Alabama, and served 14 years as director of bands at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her responsibilities included teaching and administering the Marching Blazers, the Wind Symphony, the Symphony Band, and the Blazer Band, as well as teaching courses in conducting and music education. During her time at UAB, the Marching Blazers more than doubled in number, performed nationally and internationally before tens of thousands, and garnered a reputation as one of the outstanding college marching bands in the southeast. In addition, Samuels created the UAB All-Star Band Festival which served more than 300 high school students from Alabama each fall, and more than 600 young musicians were served at the annual Middle School and High School Honor Band festivals each December.
Under Samuels’ direction, the UAB Wind Symphony performed at local and regional festivals including the Alabama Music Educators State Conference, the Southern Division of the College Band Directors National Association, and the Grainger Festival in Chicago, Illinois.
Samuels’ teaching experience prior to her arrival at UAB includes 12 years at Lassiter High School in Marietta Georgia, one year as assistant director of bands at the University of Georgia, and two years as director of bands at WT Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia. Under her direction, all bands she conducted received straight superior ratings at festivals over her 14-year career as a high school band director. In addition, the bands at both Lassiter and Woodson performed at the Bands of America National Concert Band Festival, and the Lassiter Band won the 1998 Marching Band Grand National Championships. In addition to her work as a band director, Samuels enjoys being a mom to her beautiful son, Andrew, whom she adopted from Ethiopia in 2010.
David J. Stanley works as a teacher and musician to champion public music education, affirm regional identity, and promote community.
Raised in Emory, Virginia, Stanley is an eleventh-generation Southwest Virginian who knows rural Appalachia is frequently stereotyped as simple or unsophisticated— characteristics he was encouraged to challenge. It seems appropriate to note that David was an overly inquisitive child. His father (probably just hoping for quiet) offered the sage advice, “sometimes you learn more just by listening to people than by asking them a lot of questions.” A healthy combination of curiosity and listening proved meaningful. Developing these skills as a teacher in an urban high school, Stanley came to understand seemingly opposite communities as more connected than separate. Together, they underscored the importance of musicians who listen, invest, and act: artistic citizens of place.
Now, Stanley aims to empower such citizenship. As associate director of bands at Furman University, he helps lead a comprehensive ensemble and music education program. Prior to his appointment at Furman, he was a conducting associate at the University of Georgia, where he earned the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts, studying with Cynthia Johnston Turner and Nicholas Williams. Interdisciplinary work in conducting, music education, and justice culminated with his dissertation, “Listening for Community: Ensembles of Purpose and Place,” which explored an ensemble’s potential to create community and teach artistic values supportive of a democratic society.
From 2014-2018, Stanley served as director of bands for William Fleming High School in Roanoke, Virginia, and was responsible for overseeing the program’s complete structural reorganization. An alumnus of Furman during the tenures of directors Leslie Hicken and Jay Bocook, he completed the Bachelor of Music Education, serving in a variety of leadership capacities including drum major.
Stanley is a member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the South Carolina Music Educators Association (SCMEA), and the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA). He recognizes these institutions must listen honestly to their past, and he is focused on using his membership to pose direct questions about work toward a more just future. David and his wife, Molly, who is also a Furman graduate, musician and educator, have a young son, Tucker.