Long honored at concert by state legislature

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, May 10, 2012

Modest as always, Dr. Johnny Long, legendary director of bands at Troy University, graciously accepted the congratulations of the Alabama State Legislature for his long and continuous contributions to band music and for his being named the winner of the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspiration Award in March.

Ralph Black, emcee for the Southeast Alabama Community Band Concert presented the resolution of congratulations to Long in the absence of State Rep. Alan Boothe.

“The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award is one of the most prestigious awards in the United States,” Black said. “Only 10 people in the United States were selected for the honor and Dr. Long was the only winner in the music category.”

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Long, who was the conductor for the concert, took the podium to lead the community band in “The Stars and Stripes Forever March.”

Black said that Long was instrumental in having the United States Congress designate “The Stars and Stripes Forever” the National March of the United States of America.

“That march is Dr. Long’s favorite and he believed that it should be the national march,” Black said. “He knew the strings to pull and was able to get the word to President Ronald Reagan and ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’ is our national march.”

Long expressed appreciation to Boothe and the Legislature for the recognition and to the audience for its support.

“I thank you all for being here,” he said. “You don’t know how much I appreciate the support.”

The Southeast Alabama Community Band Concert was sponsored by the Troy Arts Council and featured a variety of selections that included classical overtures and great marches and one hymn, Long’s arrangement of “Abide With Me,” which was dedicated to the memory of Corley “Brother” Chapman, Jr. who was laid to rest earlier in the afternoon.

Black said that Chapman was a philanthropist and strong supporter of the arts and was a longtime member of the Troy Arts Council. He played a role in the renovation of the old post office as a center for the arts and was a leader in the founding of the Jean Lake Festival, which is now TroyFest.

Guest conductors for the concert were James Smith, Larry Blocher and Mark Walker. Ray Smith, soloist, closed the concert with Johnny Mercer Medley. However, an appreciative audience brought the band back for an encore and the band responded with an inspiring rendition of “America.”