Bidding farewell to a long-time band director
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 02:02
Band director Brad Townsend directs “The Spirit and Sound of OSU: The Oregon State University Marchi
At the conclusion of their successful 2012-13 season, members of the Oregon State University marching band received a message not a single one of them had seen coming.
Brad Townsend, referred to by the band as “Doc” for short, would be ending his 11-year career with the OSU music department to head back to his home state of Pennsylvania.
Townsend has recently been appointed director of bands at the University of Pittsburgh, and will be leaving OSU at the end of spring term.
“The opportunity to go home and be near family and friends was just something that I could not pass up at this point in my life,” Townsend said in his announcement to the OSU marching band earlier this year.
“The decision has not been easy, mostly because of each of the members in the band,” Townsend said in his farewell speech. “You need to know how special these last 11 years have been and how proud I am to have been part of this organization.”
Members of the band say they will miss Townsend dearly, but they also know the dedication of the members will allow the program to continue to grow for years to come.
Sophomore Lauren Mathiesen has been in the marching band for two years, and was deeply affected when she heard the news of Townsend’s departure.
“I’m so sad that Doc is leaving, because he’s really one of a kind,” Mathiesen said. “As a freshman, I was so surprised that he learned my name in just a few days, and that’s pretty impressive for a band as big as ours.
“I do think it will affect the band when he leaves, because we don’t know what the new band director will be like, and Doc was definitely ‘one of us,’” Mathiesen said.
Although she sees this as being a potential struggle early on, Mathiesen also believes, as time passes, the band will be able to adjust to the change.
OSU marching band staff assistant Dave Manela has worked with Townsend for his entire career at Oregon State, first as a student in the band and later on as staff.
“My favorite part about working with Brad was the camaraderie we all have,” Manela said. “We always had fun, and I think that as much as anything he has helped grow the band into what it has become.”
Townsend will work with the rest of the current band staff alongside the athletic department in the search for the new director. He hopes at some point students in the band will be able to meet with the prospective candidates to have some input in the decision as well.
Although change can be tough for any group with traditions dating as far as the OSU marching band, the oldest marching band in the Pac-12, Townsend believes the organization is solid enough now they can have a director change without missing a beat.
He trusts in the members of the band to preserve past traditions and to keep the ensemble moving forward.
“It’s unfortunate that Brad is leaving,” Manela said. “Over the last 11 years [he] has methodically built up one of the best band programs in the country. Because he has built such a strong tradition of excellence here, the program will continue to be one of the best around, no matter who the next director is.”
Lara von Linsowe-Wilson, news reporter