A Century of Music in Winfield, Kansas
by Joe D. Watts (NASA rocket scientist, retired)
WHS Class of 1955
The following are news articles from the Winfield Courier:
PROF. C. FARRINGER.
TEACHER OF VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC
Tuner and Repairer of PIANOS AND ORGANS
MUSIC ROOMS on Main street, south of Williams House.
(Mrs. Farringer will attend to the selling of instruments, books, etc., and Eddy Farringer will collect and receipt all bills for tuning and teaching.)
There apparently was sufficient interest in music in Winfield by 1878 for Prof. Farringer to make a living selling lessons, instruments, and music.
The earliest instrumental musical organization in Winfield appears to have been in the form of brass bands, which were growing in popularity around the country at the time. Randal E. Bagby (Ref. 1) wrote:
"The earliest bands in Winfield were "brass bands", and three years after Winfield became a third class city, Winfield's first community brass band performed at the centennial celebration in Winfield on July 4, 1876."
"Winfield's madness for music started back in the early 1880's when J. S. Mann, a snappy young Canadian haberdasher who enjoyed music but couldn't tell one note from another migrated to the frontier town, and opened up a pants store. Business was good, but the primitiveness of the people irked him. He decided what they needed was aesthetic uplift and started a chain of events that has resulted in Winfield becoming "tops" in music among the smaller cities of America.
Mann ran for the school board and was elected. He advocated music in the schools, but when he broached the proposition of tying up with two neighboring towns and getting a teacher at $35 a month---$11.65 per town---a rumpus started. 'Tax our citizens for music?' shouted an aroused school board member. 'Never!'
Mann was licked that time, but a couple of years later he won out, and Winfield took on the entire support of a music director. A ‘professor of music' arrived from New England, in Prince Albert coat, gray-striped trousers and bow-tie, beribboned glasses and cane. But unregenerate kids took neither to the scales nor the professor and he finally resigned."
So, at least according to McDermott, J. S. Mann's pressure on the school board eventually resulted in the hiring of a music teacher for the school. This all appears to have happened about 1882 and the first teacher or two had only mixed results.
In 1884, Louis M. Gordon moved to Winfield from Indiana. (Ref. 3) He was 37 years old when he arrived and had already been successful in teaching singing and various instruments. He opened a music store and began teaching lessons.
The 1880's brought many events to Winfield which would begin to affect the musical culture of the city. In 1886, Southwestern College was built. In 1887 the first Chautauqua Assembly was held in Island Park. (This was an annual outdoor event in which orators and musicians from many places gathered and presented an extensive program each summer. It was named for the city in which it was founded, Chautauqua, New York.) In 1888 the Grand Opera House was completed at the corner of 11th Ave. and Main Street and the first performance in it was Johann Strauss' "The Gypsy Baron." St. John's College was completed in 1893 and the Winfield College of Music opened in 1899.
The Winfield College of Music, which was located above the Grand Opera House, was developed into a nationally known institution by Archibald Olmstead. Hundreds of children were developed into skilled musicians by private instruction at the College. Many of the graduates of the college were local people and some became teachers of piano, organ, voice, etc. in Winfield.
There is no question that musical events like band concerts and operas were about the only kind of entertainment available to the early citizens of Winfield. Therefore, it is reasonable that the public would tend to support such enterprises as music in the public schools. This is the environment in which Louis M. Gordon began his tenure as Winfield school music director in 1888.
Louis M. Gordon
Louis Gordon's son Edgar, who had begun his musical training when his father and family lived in Louisville, Kentucky, was 9 years old when the family arrived in Winfield. In 1893, Edgar graduated from Winfield High School and then went to Chicago for further music study. After he finished his schooling, he held various music teaching jobs in the Chicago area and in Los Angeles. In 1907, Edgar returned to Winfield and took a job teaching violin and music theory at both Southwestern College and the Winfield College of Music.
Edgar B. Gordon
The Winfield Orchestral Club became the center of musical activity in the town. It not only functioned as a community orchestra, but also provided support for other cultural activities such as drama. Small ensembles played for various occasions and they were all made up of members of the club. Public support of the program grew until, in 1914, a series of eight concerts during the season were sold out. Money derived from the nominal ticket prices was used for purchasing various expensive items that benefited the music program and the community. Examples of these items were a set of music reference books given to the local library and musical instruments for the schools.
Louis and Edgar Gordon had a vision of bringing the community to the point of general appreciation and love of music and the arts. They knew that this vision, if it carried on into the future, would depend on the children. If children were brought into the music program each year, there would be a continuous supply of talent and a growing number of adults who appreciate and participate in community music.
Edgar Gordon's community music brought fame to Winfield when, in 1915, the governor offered a $1,000 prize to the community judged to be the best in Kansas in which to raise children. Winfield was awarded the prize because of the "unusual manner in which the fine arts, particularly music, had been integrated into the community." (Ref. 6)
In 1915, Edgar Gordon wrote an article on this subject for Good Housekeeping magazine. (Ref. 4) In the article, he wrote:
Edgar Gordon accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin in 1917 where he remained until his retirement. His father, Louis Gordon, retired from teaching in Winfield in 1920.
So, it seems the whole idea of public school music in the grades, including vocal groups, the symphony orchestra, and various small ensembles, got its start in Winfield, Kansas under the leadership of Louis and Edgar Gordon.
When Louis Gordon retired in 1920, the Winfield public school music program appears to have struggled for several years. There were several teachers involved with the different aspects of the music program. From 1920 through 1922, the names of a Miss Baier, Prof. Hugh Altvater, and a Prof. Stout appeared in the school records. Prof. Hugh Altvater was Dean of the Department of Fine Arts at Southwestern College. It appears that public school music in Winfield received some assistance from the college in its hour of need, as it has on several occasions over the years.
C. O. Brown
Depression and War Years
Under Painter's baton, the Winfield High School music department won "highly superior" ratings in almost every event at the 5-state Region 9 National High School Music Contest at Topeka in 1941. The Winfield orchestra, band, ensembles, and soloists rated "highly superior" in Kansas state festivals year after year.
A very unique asset of the Winfield High School music department was its enormous library of music, which had been started many years before under the Gordons and was continually added to during Paul Painter's tenure and those who followed. The band and orchestra music in the Winfield library was second to none in quality, variety, and quantity. There is hardly a Tschaikowsky symphony, a Haydn concerto, or a Sousa march that couldn't be found in full instrumentation in the library.
One of the major difficulties that school orchestral programs must overcome is that of training young elementary school string players in sufficient numbers to ensure that the high school symphony is continuously supplied with the necessary talent. In 1931, Miss Leoti Hall (later to become Mrs. Foster Newland) was hired by the Winfield School System to teach strings and direct the High School choral groups. Mrs. Newland started her study of violin when she was 11 years old with Alexander Baird, who had studied with Louis Gordon. She attended Pittsburg State Teachers College and Southwestern College and later studied with Jacques Gordon and others. Mrs. Newland continued in the capacity of string teacher for the next 40 years in Winfield.
Leoti Hall Newland
During her long tenure in the Winfield schools, Mrs. Newland taught strings but also for many years she was the director of vocal music at Winfield High School, directing boys' and girls' choruses and the outstanding 100+ voice A Cappella Choir. Her contributions to Winfield music, although not always in the spotlight, were second to none in the 20th century. Mrs. Newland died a year after her retirement in 1971 and was posthumously acclaimed in the Kansas Music Educators Association Hall of Fame in 1983. (Ref. 5)
The difficulties brought on by the Great Depression and World War II were shared by Paul Painter and Leoti Newland in the Winfield music program for 15 years. It must have been saddening indeed for them to see many of their former students go off to war with some not to return. According to McDermott, over 75 of the Winfield High School students were in Army and Navy bands and several of the boys worked their way up to become conductors. Others improvised small bands and singing groups all the way from Egypt to the Aleutians. One flyer was said to have gotten his fiddle into his kit and made music for a bombing crew while going to and from raids over enemy lines.
In 1951, Mr. Dungan resigned as music director and took a position on the faculty of Southwestern College while completing his Doctor of Education degree at the University of Northern Colorado. He was dean of students at Dickenson State Teachers College, North Dakota, until he returned to Southwestern as Director of the Education Department. Mr. Dungan continued teaching music in Winfield and for a period of time, directed the Winfield Municipal Band.
The Tradition Continues
As had been the practice for a number of years, the orchestra and band performed several times each year in Winfield. The orchestra gave fall and spring concerts in Richardson Hall at Southwestern College. The band played for all home football and basketball games, doing half-time marching performances on the field for football and pre-game concerts of march music for basketball. There were also several parades in which the band marched and one annual band concert. In addition, the WHS theatre orchestra, made up of selected members of the symphony and band, played for each of six annual WHS plays produced by the various classes and societies. These activities, added to the annual competition at the district music festival, kept musicians and directors quite busy all year.
In 1953 Richard Brummett, who had graduated from WHS in 1938 and Southwestern College in 1942, was hired to assist Halgedahl with several of the junior high and high school instrumental groups and to be primarily responsible for the elementary school wind instruction and orchestra.
In 1956, the WHS symphony was invited to perform for the National Federation of Music Clubs at their convention in Columbus, Ohio. As had been the case throughout the history of the Winfield public school music programs, the community got squarely behind the students and music faculty and helped in every way to raise the needed funds for the trip. Benefit concerts were given and every form of fund raising was employed to ensure that the symphony could take advantage of this opportunity. The campaign for funds was successful and the symphony climbed aboard two chartered coaches on a Santa Fe train on April 24.
On April 26 they played a concert on the Ohio State University campus at the invitation of Dean Eugene Weigel. On April 27, they performed "Prelude and Fugue in D Minor" by Handel; second movement of the "Nordic Symphony" by Hansen; "Transformation Scene from Parsifal" by Wagner; and "Night on Bald Mountain" by Moussorgsky for the convention. Guests in the audience included Dr. Joseph Maddy, president of the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Dr. Howard Hansen, Director of the Eastman School of Music, and David Robertson, Director of Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
When the triumphant WHS symphony arrived back at Winfield on April 30, they were greeted at the Santa Fe station by a host of parents, townspeople, and a band made up of members of the Winfield Municipal Band.
In 1961, the Winfield Public Schools produced "Kanza", a musical narrative pageant created by Mr. Halgedahl. The pageant, performed as a part of the Kansas Centennial celebration, told the story of the Wind People (Kanza Indians) and the history of Kansas. Halgedahl wrote the narration and lyrics. Ronald LoPresti, Ford Foundation composer-in-residence in the Winfield Public Schools, wrote the music. 500 elementary singers, 400 junior and senior high singers, and an orchestra of 150 students performed the program.
Mr. Halgedahl continued as music director at WHS for 20 years. During the 1962 to 1966 period, Halgedahl directed both choral and instrumental music. Richard Brummett directed the band from 1965 to about 1968 and he was succeeded by Stan Reimer from 1969 to 1976. Halgedahl resigned in 1972 to accept a position as music director at Emporia State University. His successes were many and his impact on music in Winfield was great. Halgedahl was inducted into the Kansas Music Educators Association Hall of Fame in 1988. His son Fred, a violinist, graduated from Eastman School of Music and has taught at Northern Iowa University and the University of Oklahoma. He also toured Europe with an opera company. His daughter Kristen was a cellist and played professionally in Arizona and California.
Although there have been many outstanding musicians who graduated from WHS and went on to become professional musicians in some of the leading organizations in the country, there has also been another less obvious effect of Winfield's music programs. In remarks made by Mr. Halgedahl at a symphony concert in about 1959, he pointed out that the majority of WHS symphony and band graduates do not become professional musicians. They become teachers, scientists, engineers, businessmen, doctors, farmers, etc. who continue to appreciate good music. Many have continued to play in community groups as amateurs for many years. Music at Winfield High School has had, and will continue to have a lasting impact on their lives. It is interesting to observe that this accomplishment is very consistent with the objectives of Louis and Edgar Gordon in the first decade of the century. It has enriched the lives of thousands of people who were actually music students and thousands more parents and residents who also learned to enjoy good music.
One of the music traditions at Winfield High School, which was carried on for many years, was an annual symphony alumni rehearsal during the Christmas season. Many former members of the WHS symphony found their way back to Winfield at Christmas to visit parents and other relatives and friends and many made it a habit to participate in this annual event. It was always an enjoyable occasion where friendships were renewed and the classics were performed in a uniquely professional manner. It was especially enjoyable for the directors who were very proud of all their graduates. On this annual occasion, Winfield's professional and amateur musicians sat down and made very beautiful music together, not unlike the results Edgar Gordon was able to get from the Winfield Orchestral Club in 1914.
1972 - present
In 1972-73, William Muller was hired as director of the WHS orchestra, while Stan Reimer directed the band and Richard Brummett continued with the grade school orchestras. Mr. Muller's tenure at WHS has been referred to as a disaster. Many children who were making progress dropped out of music at that time. Mr. Muller departed after one year.
In 1973, Richard Brummett retired from directing the grade school orchestras after 20 years in that position. Blair Phares directed the high school orchestra from 1973 through 1977. David Watters took over until 1979.
In 1979 Larry Williams, who had been a violinist in the WHS symphony through high school, returned to Winfield to become director of the WHS orchestra and the Southwestern College orchestra. During his tenure at WHS, Williams served as president of the Kansas Music Educators Association. While in Winfield, Williams built one of the largest public school orchestras in the state and inspired renewed interest in ensemble playing among his students. Williams left Winfield in 1986 and went on to become director of orchestras for the Kansas City, Kansas public schools and director of the Junior Youth Symphony of Kansas City.
In 1987 Louise Schuppener arrived and took over the orchestra, emphasizing the rebuilding of the string sections from the bottom up. She remains director of the WHS orchestra at this time and has made outstanding progress.
The Winfield public school music program closed out the 20th century in much the same way that it entered it . . . with national recognition of an outstanding high school symphony orchestra. Under the direction of Louise Schuppener for the last decade, a significant recovery was made in the string department and the symphony was once again invited to perform on a national scale. In 1999, the orchestra was invited to represent the state of Kansas at the National Festival of the States in Washington, D.C. The invitation came after the orchestra was recommended by members of the Kansas Music Educators Association after they heard the group perform at the KMEA convention in 1997.
Centennial Celebration of Music
The Winfield Music Centennial Celebration was a real monument to those of the past who created and nurtured Winfield music. During the celebration, a survey was taken of graduates to determine how many were still actively involved in music. The survey results indicated that 40 respondents were still involved in music in some way. This, of course, is only a small sample of the Winfield High School music graduates who are still living.
Judging from the accounts of the Music Centennial in the Winfield Courier, the attending alumni must have been reassured that the music tradition was still very much alive. The efforts of Louise Schuppener (orchestra) , Allen Dilley (Band), and Betty Mullet (choir) couldn’t have been on more prominent display before qualified critics than they were in 1988. By all accounts, no one was disappointed.
The Winfield Municipal Band
There were several bands around Winfield during the period from 1876 to 1889. They included the Sunflower Band, the Walnut Valley Band, the Citizens' Band, and the Alton Military Band. These were all short-lived organizations.
In 1889, a local Winfield business man named Harry Caton organized a band he called "Caton's Dozen". Caton solicited funds from local businesses to support the band by bringing to their attention the fact that when the band played a concert in the park, people came from all around the surrounding area and spent a lot of money at the local stores while in Winfield. Caton eventually managed to hire W. H. Camon of Wellington to direct the band for thirty dollars a month. The band was incorporated under the name "The Camon Military Band Association" and it retained that title until it became the Winfield Band in 1908. During this period, the director, W. H. Camon, was also a professor at the Winfield College of Music. The Camon Band played weekly concerts in Winfield and did an annual mid-winter concert. The band traveled several times to perform in Kansas City, Chicago, Texas, and Louisiana. In August of 1903, a tragic event occurred during a weekly band concert at the corner of 9th Ave. and Main Street. A deranged man by the name of Gilbert Twigg got out a 16 gauge shotgun and fired repeatedly into the crowd. Nine people were killed and 25 wounded before the man was killed. Local citizens were somewhat nervous about attending band concerts for some time after the incident.
In June, 1910 the Winfield band played its first concert in a new band shell which the band had built in Island Park. Funds for the band shell were obtained partly from the Chamber of Commerce and partly from admissions for concerts. At this first concert, there were over a thousand paid admissions.
In 1919, the band committee of the Chamber of Commerce (including Harry Caton) reorganized and secured Frank McLean as director. McLean remained as director of the Winfield Band until 1922 when C. O. Brown was hired.
C. O. Brown directed the Winfield Municipal Band for twenty years, from 1922 to 1942 (except for an absence during 1928). He came to Winfield to accept a position as Supervisor of the Music Department at Southwestern College. Mr. Brown's musical endeavors soon came to include church choirs, a church orchestra, a "Legion Drum Corps.", a "Southwestern Girl's Drum Corps.", a high school orchestra, the beginning of a high school band, and the Winfield Municipal Band.
C. O. Brown
In the 1928-1929 period, C. O. Brown was in Charlotte, North Carolina but returned to Winfield and continued directing the Winfield Municipal Band until 1942.
Two "fill-in" directors kept the band going during the latter part of World War II. Clifford Barnhart directed for 2 years and Ross Williams directed for one year.
In 1946, Creston Klingman who was Southwestern College Band Director, took over the direction of the municipal band. Traditional concerts in the park were continued weekly during the summers.
In 1951, Richard Brummett directed the band for one summer until Delbert Johnson arrived in the fall and became director of the band until 1963. Johnson was an outstanding trumpet player who had played with such famous dance band leaders as Woody Hermann. He was also an outstanding band director. During Johnson's tenure, the band supported the local chamber of commerce during the winter of 1953 by presenting concerts in all of the surrounding small towns, including Oxford, Udall, Burden, Moline, Grenola, Dexter, and Atlanta. Summer concerts in the Memorial Park continued each year.
The Winfield Municipal Band is one of the few community bands that survived the World War II period. Because of the men being gone to war and because of financial difficulties, most bands of the 1920's and 1930's were gone by 1945. There were two primary reasons for the Winfield band's survival. First, during WWII, the members absent due to military duty were effectively replaced by high school students and women. After the war, the band continued to make heavy use of capable students and female musicians. The combination of these sources of members made the right mix to keep a well-balanced band going. Secondly, the Winfield band was one of few which were actually included in the city budget. Although small, the budget allowed for paying a director and even a small amount to members for their service. The band hall above the city utilities garage was provided free of charge. The music library of the band was enormous since it had been building since 1908. All these factors combined to allow the continuation of the Winfield Municipal Band to the present time. In recent years, the band changed the location of its summer concerts from Memorial Park to Baden Square at 8th Ave. and College St. The former St. John’s College property there was taken over by the City of Winfield several years ago.
Music at Southwestern College
The college developed its own music program which produced some outstanding musicians and a national reputation for excellence. One of the SC organizations which won national and international acclaim for many years was the A Cappella Choir. It was organized in 1927 by Prof. Harold Dyer. In 1931 the choir was hailed as one of four outstanding college choral organizations in the U. S. They toured New York that year. In 1932 the choir was recognized by critics in Chicago and New York as one of the best choral bodies in the United States. In 1938 the choir was one of three selected to sing before the Music Educators National Conference in St. Louis. In 1959, the choir sang before the convention of the National Federation of Music Clubs in San Diego, In 1969 the choir toured Missouri, Indiana, Arkansas, and Illinois. The A Cappella Choir has continued to bring its outstanding choral music to many areas of the country periodically through the years. In 1998, under the direction of James Schuppener, the choir toured Europe presenting concerts in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
There have been many outstanding music leaders at Southwestern, all of whom have made major contributions to the music heritage of Winfield. These included Edgar Gordon, Hugh Altvater, C. O. Brown, Haydn Owens, W. R. Wehrend, Luther Leavengood, Orcenith Smith, Jack Juergens, Warren Wooldridge, Ross Williams, Albert Hodges, James Schuppener, and Charles Yingling. Two of these leaders were inducted into the Kansas Music Educators Hall of Fame: Albert Hodges in 1976 and Ross Williams in 1979.
Another contribution to Winfield's music heritage which Southwestern has made is the opportunity for Winfield High School graduates to continue their music education while living at home. There are many students who find it difficult financially to go away to college and pay tuition, room and board, etc. and Southwestern has always provided these local students an opportunity to get their education at a quality institution within walking distance.
It is hard to imagine Winfield having such musical success without the presence of Southwestern College.
The Annual "Elijah" Oratorio Presentation
In 1947, Prof. Ross O. Williams of Southwestern College revived the oratorio. It was composed of students from Southwestern and St. John's Colleges, singers from most church choirs in the city, and an orchestra composed of students of Southwestern, Winfield High School, and adult musicians from the area. Famous singing artists have come to Winfield to perform in the annual "Elijah". Louis Sudler of Chicago appeared 14 times as the dramatic baritone.
Ross O. Williams
The "Elijah" oratorio was a community effort which involved all the schools, colleges, and churches in Winfield. It never could have continued for so many years without an intense community love for music and the dedicated leadership of Ross Williams. All participants looked forward to spring every year when "Elijah” was presented. Winfield took music of this caliber for granted.
A Century of Pianos
There have been many dedicated piano teachers who have kept the Winfield churches, schools, and other organizations supplied with pianists and organists for over a century. It is hard to even imagine how many talented keyboard artists there have been in various parts of the U.S. who got their start with a teacher in Winfield. Although photographs were not available for all of Winfield's many piano teachers, a few of the well-known teachers are shown here.
Fern Dielmann Grace Sellers
Merle Steinberg E. Marie Burdette
Other private piano teachers in Winfield over the 20th century included Avis Henshaw, Ethel Gould, Mrs. Harry Maitland, Mrs. J. M. Cochran, Mrs. W. L. Odenweller, Martha Baker, and Mrs. J. W. Massey.
It would perhaps be sufficient to summarize the efforts of many wonderful piano teachers by describing the efforts of one who is still living and teaching to this day: Miss E. Marie Burdette, who celebrated her 100th birthday on July 3, 2001, has been teaching piano in Winfield for over 75 years. She was educated in Winfield and, when she was a sophomore at Winfield High School, she was named school pianist by the director, Edgar B. Gordon. She graduated from WHS in 1920 and went on to the Winfield College of Music, specializing in piano and studying under the renowned Archibald Olmstead. She received her bachelor of music degree from the college in 1922. Later, she studied at Southwestern College where she received another bachelor of music degree with a major in organ in 1929 and a bachelor of arts degree with a major in history in 1932. In 1925, Marie joined the faculty of Southwestern College and served there for 45 years, primarily teaching piano and organ.
An event which occurred each year in the 1939-42 period, of which Miss Burdette was particularly fond, was massed piano ensembles which were presented in concert along with the Winfield High School orchestra. The 1939 concert featured 340 participants and 42 pianos. Miss Burdette was founder and chairperson. This event brought fame to Winfield when an article was written by William F. McDermott (Ref. 2) and published in Recreation Magazine in 1945 and later in Reader's Digest.
When Miss Burdette retired from Southwestern in 1970, she began teaching private piano lessons at home where she still has over 50 students. At one time, she remarked that she had taught piano lessons to as many as four generations of several Winfield families. In 1981, Miss Burdette received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Southwestern College "for her meritorious contributions in the field of music to the college and to the community." That special occasion was also formally declared by the city of Winfield as E. Marie Burdette Day.
The story of E. Marie Burdette is an example of how Winfield experiences a cycle wherein student becomes teacher and continues the musical enrichment of the city. There are many examples of students taking up a vocation or business in Winfield and continuing to play in the municipal band or other local amateur group. And many students have become Winfield parents and promptly arranged for piano lessons for another generation.
Another instrument which must not be overlooked in the vast array of musical instruments heard in Winfield throughout the century is the organ. Starting back as early as 1902 when Archibald Olmstead came to Winfield, organists began to be produced in Winfield. In 1917, Mr. Olmstead recruited Mrs. Cora Conn Redic to come to the Winfield College of Music to teach organ. Over the years her students numbered into the hundreds. When Archibald Olmstead died in 1924, Southwestern College took over the operation of the Winfield College of Music and Mrs. Redic joined the Southwestern music faculty. Mrs. Redic went to Paris in 1927 and again in 1930 to study with famous organist Marcel Dupre at the Paris Conservatory. In 1939, Mssr. Dupre and his wife came to the United States and visited in the Redic home in Winfield. Mssr. Dupre gave a recital during his stay in Winfield. Mrs. Redic remained on the Southwestern faculty for 20 years when she was forced to resign for health reasons. When she regained her health she accepted a position on the faculty of St. Johns College where she remained for 8 years, retiring in 1956. She continued teaching privately for several years.
First, the city is small enough to allow close coordination between the lower grade schools and the high school and large enough to have sufficient numbers of musically-inclined children in the grades to feed the high school program. The music directors are able to work with young children's programs at the same time that they are working with older children. In most larger cities, it is difficult if not impossible to coordinate the music programs of the various level schools. They are large enough to be independent of each other. Whatever musical talent shows up at the high school door in the 9th grade is what they get. At that point, there is insufficient time to develop playing abilities in children who haven't started yet. And those who come from private training are usually insufficient in number to supply a symphony orchestra.
Secondly, when a city like Winfield has such a history of success with public school music, each new director who arrives is especially challenged to "not be the one who dropped the ball." This history of success has usually attracted very high quality leadership to Winfield.
It is fairly certain that almost all of the high quality music directors that Winfield has attracted could have made a higher salary in larger schools. But their desire to be a part of a highly successful music history led them to come to Winfield instead.
Of course, not all music directors in the Winfield schools from 1888 to 2001 have been outstanding. The unique talents and personalities of the great directors would have been impossible to duplicate repeatedly over the past century. The environment in the schools has changed immensely over the years and today there are many, many more sources of entertainment for young people than there were in the past. The job of music director has become more and more difficult and music educators are getting harder and harder to find. But, in spite of all this, music still survives in Winfield schools.
Another very important factor in Winfield's success has been, from the start, the cooperation and support of the city school board and the superintendents of schools over the years. Most school systems would not even consider building a dedicated music hall for orchestra and band rehearsals or hiring assistants to help the music directors deal with coordination of grade school and high school music development. In most school systems, music is considered an extracurricular activity, not an essential cultural growth factor in education. Music can be just as important to an enjoyable life as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Of course, if a city has never had Winfield's kind of community music experience, then its residents have no idea what they are missing.
The presence of the Winfield College of Music during the early years, and the Southwestern College Fine Arts Department throughout the century, created a music-oriented environment which contributed greatly to music development in the Winfield Public Schools. Many of the music teachers and leaders throughout the century got their education at these institutions and Southwestern College is always involved in community music endeavors of all kinds.
For those who might be losing hope that Winfield's music heritage might be lost in the roar of modern technological progress, I would like to close this historical account with a very current 2001 Winfield music story. It is about a family whose love for music is second to none when compared to all known Winfield musical families over the past century. Many fine musicians have come out of Winfield but it is indeed rare when the father, mother, and a large number of children are all musicians.
The Wilder Family Musicians
The Wilder children are being musically trained and ten of them are taking piano lessons from E. Marie Burdette. The young musicians of the family are: Karen (20, flute), Rachel (17, violin), Krista (15, clarinet), Carl (14, bassoon), Daniel (12, cello), Jacob (10, French Horn), Andrew (8, clarinet), Olivia (7, cello), and Kathryn (7, violin). The youngest of the family, Thomas, who is four, will undoubtedly join his brothers and sisters before too much longer. The Wilders have their own family orchestra, which performed at E. Marie Burdette's 100th birthday party. They have also performed on several other occasions.
The Wilder children are home-schooled and, needless to say, music plays a major role in their education and the life of their family. To see this large Winfield family and its total inclination toward music would have been a delight for Louis and Edgar Gordon. They would undoubtedly be convinced that music is alive and well in Winfield.
Quite a number of people who began their music education in Winfield either remained in Winfield as teachers or returned in later years. These teachers and leaders who returned to Winfield to contribute to its musical heritage included Edgar Gordon, Archibald Olmstead, Leoti Hall Newland, Earl Dungan, Richard Brummett, Larry Williams, E. Marie Burdette, Fern Dielmann, Grace Sellers, and Merle Steinberg Barr. There have also been countless occasions when highly successful professional musicians who got their start in Winfield returned to the city and presented concerts and recitals for its citizens. Most professionals from Winfield recognize that they might not have become musicians had they not been educated in Winfield. Winfield has a musical tradition which was brought about by people with names like Gordon, Brown, Painter, Newland, Dungan, Halgedahl, Brummett, Williams, Burdette, and Schuppener. We owe it to these dedicated music educators of the 20th century to never let music die in Winfield.
With musical families like the Wilders, the highly successful efforts of Louise Schuppener in keeping the Winfield public school music program quality consistent with its historical highs, and such innovative contemporary music events as the annual Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival, it is safe to say that music is as much a part of life in Winfield now as it was in 1900. It is indeed a tradition to be envied by all American cities.
Winfield Music Honor Roll
Edgar B. Gordon Mr. Gordon was the son of the founder of public school music in Winfield, Louis M. Gordon. He graduated from Winfield High School in 1893 and went on to Chicago where he studied violin under S. E. Jacobsohn for five years. He also studied harmony and counterpoint with Louis Falk and history of music and composition with Felix Borowski. Mr. Gordon taught violin in a private studio in Chicago for several years, and took charge of musical activities at Chicago settlement houses. He returned to Winfield in 1907 where he taught violin and music theory at Southwestern College and the Winfield College of Music. Later, he began assisting his father in the Winfield public schools with starting orchestral training in the grade schools. He organized the Winfield Orchestral Club, which became one of the first community symphony orchestras. Mr. Gordon and his father succeeded in founding a high school symphony orchestra in Winfield in about 1915 which would still be thriving in the next century. Edgar Gordon moved on to the University of Wisconsin in 1917 where he remained until he retired in 1945. He, along with his long time friend Joseph Maddy, was instrumental in organizing the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan
Archibald Olmstead Mr. Olmstead came to Winfield with his parents in 1884 at the age of 16. He was an accomplished pianist, having begun his music education at the age of 6. From 1887 to 1902 he was in the east as student, teacher, organist, and accompanist. He lived for several years in the Washington, D.C. area and was known as one of the most talented pianists and teachers. During this time he was the organist at St. Thomas Episcopal Church and accompanist for a number of local choral groups. Mr. Olmstead returned to Winfield in 1902 and became associated with the Winfield College of Music, which had been started 4 years earlier. In the following years, his leadership and reputation made the college famous across the U.S. Many local pianists and teachers began their careers studying under Mr. Olmstead. He remained as head of the college until his death in 1924.
E. Marie Burdette Miss Burdette graduated from Winfield High School in 1920. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Winfield College of Music in 1922, a Bachelor of Music degree from Southwestern College with a major in organ in 1929, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southwestern College in 1932. She joined the Southwestern faculty in 1925 and taught there for 45 years, retiring in 1970. After retirement she continued teaching private piano lessons at home until after she was 100 years old.
Genevieve Daves Genevieve Daves was born in Wichita in 1924 and raised in Winfield. She had perfect pitch and was a musical prodigy by the age of 4. She was nurtured by her parents and her community and became a concert pianist and violinist. As a young girl, she was awarded scholarships for four consecutive summers to study at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts and at Music Mountain in Connecticut, where she studied with Jacques Gordon. Genevieve won every local, state, and national performance competition she entered. At the age of 16, she won a four-year scholarship to Julliard School of Music in New York after attending Southwestern College for one year. As an undergraduate, she was concertmistress of the Julliard Graduate School Orchestra. Some of her most thrilling experiences were playing as concertmistress in the American Youth Symphony under the direction of Leopold Stowkowski as well as playing violin under Arturo Toscanini. Eventually, she became concertmistress of the New York City Opera. In her later years, she composed a historical musical drama "Eden on the River" with book by John Lee and lyrics by Joyce Ancrill. She is listed in Who's Who in American Women and the International Who's Who of Musicians.
Paul Oncley Mr. Paul Oncley, a violist who graduated from WHS in 1927 and Southwestern College in 1931 went on to the Eastman School of Music. While at Eastman, Paul was appointed a member of the viola section of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
Dorothy Merriam Miss Dorothy Merriam, who was concertmistress of the WHS symphony in about 1945, won the National Federation of Music Clubs competition with her violin two years in a row. She began her career as a concert violinist as a student of Mrs. Leoti Newland. She received a performer's certificate and a bachelors degree from the Eastman School of Music. She appeared as concertmistress and soloist with the Eastman School Junior and Senior Symphonies and the Eastman-Rochester Symphony under the direction of Dr. Howard Hanson. For many years she was guest soloist with many of the nation's top symphonies.
James London James London learned to play the E-flat trumpet in the Winfield grade school orchestra in 1948-49. He changed to French horn a year later and distinguished himself as one of the most dedicated and hard-working music students in the senior high orchestra while he was still in junior high. In 1952 James moved to Wellington, Kansas with his family and continued playing and studying horn. In 1953, at the age of 16, he entered Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, majoring in horn. He later played in the New Orleans Symphony and, in 1961, was playing horn in the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. He played professionally for a number of years and ultimately became a music teacher.
Larry Newland Mr. Newland graduated from Winfield High School in 1951. He was an outstanding violist in the WHS symphony and also an accomplished pianist. He attended Oberlin Conservatory until 1955. He received a masters degree in music from Manhattan School of Music, New York in 1957. He was a violist in the New York Philharmonic from 1960 to 1974 and Assistant Conductor under Leonard Bernstein from 1978 to 1994. He was also Music Director of the Harrisburg, PA Symphony from 1978 to 1994. He was president of the International Conductors Guild from 1994 to 1996. From 1990 to 2000 he was Chairman of the Music Department at Adelphi University, Garden City, NY. From fall, 2000 to the present he has been Music Director of the State Theater of Kosice, Slovakia, conducting opera and ballet.
Sarah Johnson Smith Sarah Johnson was concertmistress of the WHS symphony, graduating in 1956. She attended Wichita State University, graduating in 1960. She became a public school music teacher in Quincy, MA for three years. She lived in Maine since 1965, playing in the Portland Symphony and the Bangor Symphony. With her children now grown, she plays in string quartets in Maine in the summer and plays with the Annapolis, MD Chamber Orchestra during the winter.
Alvin Lowrey Mr. Lowrey began a long musical career in the Winfield schools, graduating from Winfield High School in 1961. He studied under Earl Dungan, Delbert Johnson, and Richard Brummett and played trumpet in the WHS band and orchestra and the Winfield Municipal Band. Mr. Lowrey taught in Colorado and Michigan before deciding to become a full-time professional performer. In Michigan, he was principal trumpet in the Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Battle Creek symphonies. He played briefly in the Miami Symphony before becoming principal trumpet in the Edmonton, Alberta Symphony where he has remained for 26 years. He also teaches trumpet and has performed as soloist in countries all over the world. One of Mr. Lowrey's prized students was Jens Lindemann, who has been a member of the famed Canadian Brass for the past five years. Lowrey returned to Winfield in the summer of 2001 and played several benefit recitals.
Woody Hodges Woody Hodges, son of Southwestern College band director Albert Hodges, graduated from Winfield High School in 1961. He had started his music career playing trombone but, on the advice of his father, switched to woodwinds and took up the bassoon as his primary instrument. He majored in bassoon performance at Southwestern College, receiving his bachelors degree in 1965. He then went to the University of Iowa where he received a masters degree in bassoon performance and a Ph.D. in bassoon literature. He taught at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music for 4 years and then went to Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin where he directed the band and has taught woodwinds and music theory up to the present time.
Donald Hodges Donald Hodges, also son of Southwestern College band director Albert Hodges, graduated from Winfield High School in 1963 and then received his bachelors degree from the University of Kansas. He then went to the University of Texas, where he received his masters and Ph.D. degrees. Mr. Hodges’ field of endeavor is a little different from most Winfield music graduates. He is an internationally recognized expert in the field of music and the human brain. He has taught at the University of South Carolina and Southern Methodist University. He is a contributing editor of the Handbook of Music Psychology and the author of numerous papers. He is a professor of music and Director of the Institute for Music Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio. In addition to his research endeavors, he served as conductor of the UTSA Orchestra for nine years. Hodges was quoted as saying, “From birth to death, from the most intelligent individual to the most intellectually deprived, all human beings respond to music. This is true regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status.” One example of an application of this research is in music therapy. Isomoodic therapy moves a patient from one mental state (such as depression) into another by matching the mood of the patient with music in terms of rhythm, tempo, pace, and volume, and then gradually altering it.
Larry Williams Larry Williams, son of Ross Williams of Southwestern, played violin in the WHS orchestra, graduating from WHS in 1956. He received his bachelors degree in music from Southwestern in 1960. He received his masters degree in music education from the University of Kansas in 1968. He taught music in the Lawrence, Kansas public schools from 1968 to 1978, when he was named assistant professor of orchestra and assistant conductor of the K.U. symphony. He returned to Winfield in 1979 and directed the USD 465 orchestra and the Southwestern College orchestra until 1986. Since leaving Winfield, Williams has been director of orchestras for the Kansas City, Kansas public schools and director of the junior youth symphony of Kansas City.
Bruce Williams Bruce Williams played violin, following the family tradition set by his father, Ross Williams, and older brother Larry. He graduated from WHS in 1958 and Southwestern College in 1962. He received his masters degree in music from Oklahoma University and taught music and directed public school orchestras in Huron, South Dakota; Hutchinson, Kansas; Kansas City, Kansas; Plano, Texas; and McAllen, Texas where he still teaches. Bruce also plays violin in two local orchestras in the McAllen area.
Joe D. Watts