1980 – 2006
James W. Simmons
James W. Simmons assumed the position of Music Director of the Charlottesville Municipal Band on February 1, 1980 and was the Band’s sixth music director.
In 1946, as a musician and student at Lane High, Mr. Simmons began a 70-year association with the Charlottesville Municipal Band. Over the course of his lifetime involvement with that organization, he played clarinet, served as its president on three occasions, and in 1959, he was named the band’s assistant conductor under Sharon B. Hoose. During his 26 year tenure, he expanded the band’s music library to over 1500 titles and conducted over 400 public performances. Under his direction, the band performed 10 to 15 concerts a year, including performances for several US Presidents, Queen Elizabeth II of England, and other dignitaries.
A native of Charlottesville, he graduated from Lane High School in 1947, received a B.S. in Music Education in 1951 from Concord College, Athens, West Virginia and a M. Ed. in Music Education from the University of Virginia in 1959.
In 1956 Mr. Simmons became band director at Albemarle High School in Charlottesville, a position he held until 1971, during which time the Albemarle Band consistently received “superior” and “excellent” ratings at festival competitions. In 1971 he was appointed Fine Arts Coordinator for the Albemarle County Public Schools, a position he held until his retirement in 1984.
Mr. Simmons was active in the Virginia Band & Orchestra Directors Association and the Virginia Music Educators Association. He served as president of each of those organizations and was honored by VBODA for his “many years of contributions to the improvement of instrumental music in the Commonwealth of Virginia”. He also served as Editor of VEMA’s official publication “NOTES”.
Jim strongly believed in the value of music to educate and enrich our lives at any age, and saw clearly the power of music to strengthen community ties, preserve important music traditions, and mark events that celebrate our happiness as well as honor our sadness. Anyone who played under Jim Simmons’ baton (and there have been thousands of us!) will recall that Jim was fond of demanding “EYES” — if you weren’t watching the conductor while playing, the essential connection of director to musician was not firmly in place.
1957 – 1980
Sharon Bernard Hoose
Sharon Bernard Hoose, an Illinois native who received his musical training at Illinois Wesleyan University, became the Band’s fifth director in March of 1957 and served in that capacity for twenty-three years. He had been a member and baritone horn soloist with the Band at the time of his appointment. Mr. Hoose also served as director of the Lane High School (now Charlottesville High School) Band from 1941-1974, after which he continued as Coordinator of Music for Charlottesville Public Schools until 1980. He earned an outstanding reputation throughout the state of Virginia for his leadership in public school music. He was frequently asked to be a contest adjudicator and guest conductor for all-state, all-regional and all-county bands in Virginia, adjacent states and the District of Columbia. He was a co-founder and past president of the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors’ Association and also a past president of the Virginia Music Educators’ Association. It was at Mr. Hoose’s recommendation in 1957 that the Municipal Band’s Board of Directors first offered membership to women. Mr. Hoose developed the Band’s musicianship to a level that placed it in the forefront of amateur municipal bands. He was the Band’s Director Emeritus until his death in 1985 at the age of 73.
1950 – 1957
Marlin L. Brown
Marlin L. Brown came to Charlottesville from South Dakota, where he had been a public school band director. He was a clarinetist who received his musical training from Sioux Falls College. During his tenure as Director, the Municipal Band became the official band of the Charlottesville Fire Department, representing the city and the department at State Firemen’s Conventions throughout out the state for many years. The Band often received first place trophies in recognition of its concert performances and marching at these events. After leaving Charlottesville, Mr. Brown returned to his native South Dakota and retired there, returning to Charlottesville in 1997 to conduct the Band as a part of its 75th anniversary celebration.
1941 – 1950
Emil Rada was a former clarinet soloist with the U.S. Marine Band before retiring from the organization and moving to the Charlottesville area in the early 1940s. Mr. Rada was a conservatory trained musician who performed with a number of military bands and prominent symphony orchestras and who played for five U.S. Presidents and a number of foreign royalty, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England in 1939. Mr. Rada was an “old school” musician who programmed concerts featuring marches and classical transcriptions. On occasion he would also perform solos accompanied by the Band. Mr. Rada died in 1961 at the age of 73.
1940 – 1941
Ernest G. Carr
Ernest G. Carr was a clarinetist with the Municipal Band. He was asked to serve as Interim Music Director for a year following Harry Lowe’s retirement.
1922 – 1940
Harry Lowe, a native of England, was a cornetist who came to Charlottesville from New York City, where he had gained extensive musical experience playing on Broadway in theater orchestras, pit bands and Vaudeville. He was responsible for initially training many of the charter members of the Municipal Band in how to play their instruments. Mr. Lowe was a popular conductor, beloved by the Band’s members and the community alike. He often would pick up his cornet and play along with the Band as he conducted from the podium. After leaving Charlottesville, Mr. Lowe and his family lived in the Petersburg, VA, area. Mr. Lowe died July 27, 1947 while visiting his father-in-law in Winsted, CT, where he is buried.