January 29, 2013
Leaving A Program 'Better than You Found It': Dedication Honors Copenhaver
A packed audience filled a second-story auditorium late Tuesday afternoon as band alumni and friends gathered to celebrate the Copenhaver Band Hall Dedication Ceremony. The combined dance/band building on Sumter Street opened in 2009, with the Marching Band enjoying spacious confines on the second floor as well as a practice field outside.
As the beloved director of USC Bands for 34 years before retirement in 2010, James Copenhaver
did something a year later that School of Music
Dean Tayloe Harding
calls “one of the ultimate things a world-class person can do.” Copenhaver’s $1 million bequest to fund band scholarships in perpetuity was an act of generosity befitting a dedicated public servant who put his life into his work.
University President Harris Pastides
said Copenhaver’s illustrious band legacy put the “Mighty Sound of the Southeast” on the map, and allowed for that legacy to continue through the hiring of internationally renowned band director Scott Weiss
“Naturally, marching bands reflect the spirit of a University,” Pastides said. “That’s why we have a great band, if I may say, and why we have a great University: We feed off each other.”
“Alums are the reason we have this building,” Harding said. “Alums are the reason that the building will go on forever.”
Humble as ever, Copenhaver said he left USC Bands “in wonderful hands.” “Collectively, this isn’t the Copenhaver Band building,” he said. “It’s the Copenhaver band family.”
Harding offered “two crystallizing moments” involving School of Music alumni that framed recent events leading to Tuesday’s dedication. First, alumni generated gifts to endow the James K. Copenhaver Alumni Band Scholarship fund. And second, during a packed SC Music Educators Association conference in 2010—what was Copenhaver’s last concert to direct—everyone in the packed ballroom audience stood when asked by the session chair “who” had been impacted by Copehaver’s teaching and overall musical legacy.
“That was one of those Jadeveon Clowney
moments at that time … it was truly one of those ‘I cannot believe what I’m watching moments,’” Harding said. “No one that was there that day will ever forget it. It moved Jim as well; it moved all of us.”
“No matter how many generations of students come through this school and learn in this building, Jim Copenhaver’s legacy will live on strong and vibrant,” said junior Chase Harding
, a music and business major in the South Carolina Honors College, and a recent recipient of the James K. Copenhaver Alumni Band Scholarship.
The School of Music continues to collect gifts in Copenhaver’s honor, Harding said. There are naming opportunities in Copenhaver Band Hall that will be exercised through donor generosity, with one such opportunity already taken. USC band alumnus Matthew McCord
of Atlanta, a trumpet player who cherished his time with Copenhaver because “he believed in me,” provided a generous gift in his mentor’s honor resulting in the James K. Copenhaver Lobby.
“I think the most significant monuments he (Copenhaver) leaves behind are those in the hearts and souls for generations to come who are better because they knew him,” McCord said.
–Larry Di Giovanni, Development Communications