When Kenneth Bloomquist decided to retire from his leadership of the NCB, he turned it over to a long time friend and colleague, who also has “a little experience in the band business”. When Don Wilcox and his wife Kaye Jean (a local girl) retired to Northport, it was a natural homecoming, as the family had spent summers here for half a century.
Don Wilcox was born in Shattuck, Oklahoma on a Friday the 13th in an Oklahoma dust storm, and after growing up in Chickasha, Oklahoma, he spent four years in the University of Michigan bands under Dr. William D Revelli. Following graduation, Don taught in California, Kansas, and West Virginia for a total of 48 years – the last 35 as Director of Bands at West Virginia University.
Professor Wilcox is the recipient of WVU’s Outstanding Teacher Award, the 1993 Golden Apple Outstanding Faculty Award, and the Heebink Award for Outstanding Service to the university and the state. He received special citations from four Governors for his contributions to the state of West Virginia and at WVU’s 2008 commencement was awarded the University’s highest honor when he was inducted into the Order of Vandalia.
Wilcox is the recipient of the Sudler Order of Merit from the John Philip Sousa Foundation and is a National Arts Associate of Sigma Alpha Iota. In 1997 he was awarded the Distinguished Service To Music Medal from the National Council of Kappa Kappa Psi, and in 2006 was named National Outstanding Bandmaster of the Year by Phi Beta Mu. In 2011 he received the Midwest Clinic’s Medal of Honor. He is a Past President of the American Bandmasters Association.
In a teaching and conducting career spanning over half a century, Mr. Wilcox has conducted bands in all 50 states and 28 foreign countries, working with musicians of all ages and abilities, from one-room schools in rural Appalachia to several of the major concert halls in the world. He has conducted each of the major Military bands in Washington, and in the fall of 2008 he returned to Tokyo, Japan for his fifth time as guest conductor of the renowned Musashino Academia Musicae Wind Ensemble.
Mr. Wilcox has former students in major positions across the country, and has served as guest conductor or visiting lecturer at more than 80 universities in the United States, Europe, Japan, Thailand, Australia and China. He and Kaye Jean live on the shore of Grand Traverse Bay, 2 miles south of Northport.