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Appalachian Wind Ensemble program Oct. 2 to celebrate the life of Dr. William A. Gora with music and reflections of guest speakers

By University Communications

BOONE—The Appalachian Wind Ensemble will present “A Concert in Celebration of Life” for Dr. William A. Gora, its former music director, at 3 p.m. Oct. 2 in the Broyhill Music Center’s Rosen Concert Hall at Appalachian State University. This is a Hayes School of Music event. Admission is free, and a live stream of the performance will be available at

View larger imageView larger imageView larger imageDr. William A. Gora (1946-2016) served as the director of bands and a professor of saxophone at Appalachian from 1976 to 2006. Photos courtesy of Appalachian State University Archives

Gora (1946-2016) served as the director of bands and a professor of saxophone at Appalachian from 1976 to 2006. Many of his students pursued careers in music education and performance. He also guest-conducted widely in the United States and abroad, capitalizing on studies with the late Frederick Fennell, the famed conductor of wind ensembles. He played the saxophone in recital and in numerous ensembles, including the North Carolina Symphony. He directed Cannon Music Camp, held summers on Appalachian’s campus, from 1982 through 1994.

Dr. Jay C. Jackson, associate dean of the Hayes School of Music, was a student of Gora’s during the 1970s and ’80s.

“Bill was an incredible advocate for this university and, most specifically, the Hayes School of Music and our students,” Jackson said. “His ensembles and students made great music primarily because he was a fine musician and teacher. As a colleague, mentor and friend to many, Bill will always be remembered. His music, his teaching and his staunch support of those he interacted with will play on.”

Gora studied at the University of Florida and Miami University, where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in saxophone performance, in addition to studying conducting with Fennell. During his tenure at Appalachian, Gora conducted the Appalachian Wind Ensemble and arranged for many music luminaries to serve in residence with the group, from Fennell to Eddie Daniels.

“Celebration of Life” will feature performances of Gora’s favorite works for wind ensemble in addition to remarks by Jackson and other guest speakers selected by Gora before his death to share reflections about him at the concert. The speakers were students or teachers at Appalachian when Gora worked there, or they became his colleagues because of connections forged away from Appalachian’s campus.

The musical portion of the program will feature Joseph Kreines’ transcription of Percy Grainger’s “Mock Morris” (1910); Jacques Press’ “Wedding Dance” (1955); William G. Harbinson’s “The Maestro’s Flourish” (2005); and Charles Mackerras’ 1951 arrangement of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s “Pineapple Poll Suite.” Also on the program will be Richard Wagner’s “Trauersinfonie” (1844) and Gustav Holst’s “First Suite in E-flat for Military Band” (1909).

Harbinson will conduct “Maestro’s Flourish,” and Jackson will conduct “Trauersinfonie.” Dr. John Stanley Ross, director of bands and an associate professor of music at Appalachian, will conduct the rest of the program.

Appalachian alumni among the speakers will be Dr. C. David Ragsdale ’96 B.M., director of bands and music department chair at the University of Alabama in Huntsville; Dr. Raychl Smith ’05 B.M., an assistant professor of music education at East Carolina University; James Daugherty ’93 B.M. and ’94 M.M., president of the North Carolina Music Educators Association; and Jackson ’76 B.M. and ’81 M.M.

Also scheduled to speak are Robert E. Foster Jr., director of bands emeritus at the University of Kansas; Don Peach, who is on the adjunct music education faculty at Appalachian; Frank Kimbrough, a jazz pianist/composer who teaches at the Juilliard School; and Joe F. Phelps, a professor of music emeritus at Appalachian.

About the Hayes School of Music

The Hayes School of Music prepares young musicians for professional lives as performers, composers, music educators, music therapists, conductors and music industry professionals, ensuring the next generation of musical leadership for the state, region and nation. Noted for quality instruction by national and internationally recognized faculty musicians, the school offers four undergraduate degree programs and three graduate-level programs.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low faculty-to-student ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.