Ford selected as new TSU band director

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 18, 2001

Staff Writer

Feb. 17, 2001 10 PM

Reaction to Ralph Ford becoming the new director of bands for Troy State University met with a round of applause from members of the "Sound of the South."

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In a span of 15 years, Ford has gone from performing for the "Sound of the South" to directing it.

Friday afternoon, TSU officials announced Ford, who has served on the music faculty since earning his bachelors degree from TSU in 1986, will take up the baton as the new band director.

Jack Hawkins Jr., chancellor, said he had "confidence and pride" in making the announcement to the more than 200 cheering band members who were assembled for practice Friday afternoon.

Hawkins was accompanied by TSUs newest trustee, Milton McGregor; David Dye, dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts; and athletic director Johnny Williams in making the announcement.

"Great people come together in a common cause to form great organizations," Hawkins said. "This is true for the ‘Sound of the South.’ Ralph Ford knows that to be great you must stand on the shoulders of giants and then reach for new heights."

During the press conference, Dye said the students’ reaction indicates "there must be exciting things going on in the band."

Dye also said TSU was recently listed as one of the top three small university bands in "Sports Illustrated" and expects the band program will continue to grow under Ford’s direction.

Williams agreed and joked the football team was having to move to I-A division ball "because we want to catch up with the band."

Ford is the third director of the "Sound of the South," succeeding Robert Smith, who will step down as director Sept. 1 to take a position as a consulting editor with Warner Bros. Publishing. Ford is a égéprot of the founder of the band, John M. Long.

"I am flattered to be asked to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Long and Robert Smith, who have established a great music tradition at Troy State University," Ford said. "I am also humbled by the show of support from students, alumni, faculty and administration."

The Panama City, Fla. native was a member of the "Sound of the South" for four years. He received his masters degree from TSU in 1987.

In addition to his academic work, Ford is also an accomplished composer/arranger, having recently signed a five-year contract with Warner Bros. Publishing. Two years ago, he and Smith collaborated with famed composer John Williams to arrange his "Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace" movie score into sheet music for symphony, orchestra and marching bands.

Ford lives in Troy with his wife, Amanda, who is band director at Charles Henderson Middle School, and their daughter, Melanie.