Aside from providing entertainment to its citizens, one of the guiding principles that motivated Sol Kaufman and Ed Joachim to establish the Municipal Band was to create a musical organization that would highlight and promote the advantages and benefits of living and working in Charlottesville. Over the years since its founding, the Band has continued to search for additional ways to accomplish this goal.
Shortly before his retirement as the Band’s sixth Conductor and Music Director, Jim Simmons began discussing with his successor, Steve Layman, a new way for the Band to encourage and support talented young musicians in our area. The result was the creation of the James W. Simmons Solo Competition. This annual event gives local high school students a chance to showcase their musical talent before a jury of professional musicians, and each year’s winner then performs with the Municipal Band as a featured soloist on its spring concert.
In addition, each competition winner also receives a monetary prize of $2,000 which he or she can use to help defray higher education costs at the winner’s choice of college or university. An endowment for this prize was generously donated by the Rev. Dr. Genevieve Murphy, a long-time supporter of the Band, and the prize is named the Reverend Dr. Genevieve Murphy Scholarship for Young Musicians in her honor.
The Band conducted the first solo competition and awarded the first scholarship in 2010. The winner that year was clarinetist Anthony W. Poehailos, IV, who was at that time a student at Monticello High School. He performed Carl Maria von Weber’s Concertino for Clarinet with the Band on its spring concert. Subsequently, Anthony went on the receive a bachelor’s degree in music from James Madison University, a master’s degree in music from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate from Florida State University. In the years since winning the Municipal Band’s solo competition Anthony has enjoyed a distinguished career in musical performance, teaching and audio engineering.
Winners of the James W. Simmons Solo Competition and the Rev. Dr. Genevieve Murphy Scholarship for Young Musicians to date include:
2010 – Anthony W. Poehailos, IV, Monticello High School (Clarinet)
2011 – Samantha Marshall, Monticello High School (Flute)
2012 – Marie Fernandez, Monticello High School (Flute)
2014 – Geneva Knight, Charlottesville High School (Flute)
2015 – Chris Hays, Charlottesville High School (Alto Saxophone)
2016 – Maggie Archer, Louisa County High School (Flute)
2017 – Charlotte McDonald, Charlottesville High School (Clarinet)
2018 – Jason Dech, Fluvanna High School (Trombone)
2019 – Rose Bittle, Albemarle High School (Clarinet)
2020 – Reid Dodson, Charlottesville High School (Flute)
2022 – Samuel Hall, Albemarle High School (Trumpet)
2023 – Lizzie Mayhood, Albemarle High School (Flute)