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Jefferson Forest High School band director David Webb got a big pre-Christmas present at the end of last year—he was named a John Philip Sousa Legion of Honor Laureate.
The John Philip Sousa Foundation is a non-profit foundation dedicated to the promotion of international understanding through the medium of band music, according to the Foundation’s website. Webb said that the Foundation annually inducts between six and eight high school band directors from across the United States into its Legion of Honor.
“This year’s class was eight,” he said.
And Webb was one of those selected.
The award was presented during a huge annual in-service conference held in Chicago in late December. Webb attends these conferences periodically.
“It is a wonderful, wonderful conference,” Webb said.
He described the conference as “overwhelming in scope.” There is a large exhibit floor where band directors can meet the people who write the music their bands play. The days, during this four-day conference, are filled with professional development clinics and opportunities to listen to performances by middle school, high school and college bands.
Webb said thousands of band directors from all over the world attend this event. Most of the band directors who attend the conference come from the United States and Japan.
“Japan has the best bands in the world,” Webb commented.
The plaque that goes along with the award is distinctive-looking, representing the distinguished honor it represents. Webb said that all John Philip Sousa Legion of Honor Laureates must be nominated by a peer. Webb was nominated by Dr. Terry Austin, the band director at Virginia Commonwealth University. Webb said Dr. Austin has been a good friend for several years.
“I was completely shocked,” Webb said. “I didn’t see it coming at all.”