Walker tapped to lead prestigious band program

Published 8:37 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dr. Mark J. Walker, who has served as associate director of bands and associate professor of music at Troy University since 2002, has been named Director of Bands.

Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. made the announcement at a press conference Wednesday afternoon at Troy University.

“We are fortunate at Troy University to have a band program that enjoys a rich tradition and an outstanding international reputation,” Hawkins said. “Any endeavor as successful as our band program needs strong leadership. Dr. Walker is an excellent musician and director so it is my pleasure to announce his appointment. I am certain he will do an outstanding job.”

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Accepting the role of director of bands at Troy University is to “walk in the footsteps of giants.”

Hawkins spoke of the “giants” who have led the “Sound of the South” for nearly a half-century, Dr. John M. Long, Robert W. Smith and Ralph Ford.

The band program at Troy University began in 1939 but the famed band known as the “Sound of the South” was founded in 1965 by Long, whose 32-year tenure established a national reputation through appearances at music conventions, concert tours and nationally televised appearances.

In February 2001, Ford stepped into those giant footsteps and filled them admirably.

“When Ralph Ford announced his retirement, we began the research to identify the next leader of bands at Troy University,” Hawkins said. “We looked far and wide but found him in our midst in Dr. Mark Walker. He is a performer, a scholar but most importantly he is a teacher.”

Long said Walker is one of the finest, most knowledgeable directors of bands that he knows.

“His students love him and he will make the band better and better each year,” Long said.

Walker said that he is pleased, humbled and honored to be named director of bands at Troy University.

Walker said that he is thankful for the trust that Hawkins has shown in him and for the support of the faculty, students and Troy University family and looks forward to many years at Troy University.

“The ‘Sound of the South’ band program is one of the pre-eminent collegiate band programs in the nation, and it is my goal to uphold and build upon the great traditions begun by Dr. John M. Long, our founder, and the work of previous directors Robert W. Smith and Ralph Ford,” Walker said.

Walker has worked with Ford since 2002 and the structure of the band program is set up, “so there won’t be any change.”

“I’m not one to fix something that’s not broken,” he said. “I have great love and affection for the band program here and we have a great relationship with athletics. We’re all on the same team and we work together.”

Walker earned his bachelor degree in music education at Tennessee Technological University. He earned both his master’s and doctorate degrees in music education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where the university’s bands honored him with the A.A. Harding Award.

In addition to his work with the band program, Walker teaches applied low brass and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in conducting, marching band techniques, evaluation and music education.

He serves as the coordinator of Graduate Music Education, executive director of the Middle School Southeastern United States Band Clinic and Honor Bands. He is on the board of the Southeastern United States Band Clinic and director of the “Sound of the South” Summer Music Camp and Director’s Clinic.

Walker is also a published author, whose articles appear in state and national music education publications.

Walker, his wife, Jessica, and daughter, Emily, make their home in Troy.