The Callanwolde Concert Band is an independent community concert band of adult musicians who decided not to give up music after graduating from school. Formed in 1972 as a summer program of the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, the band has operated as an independent non-profit corporation since 1984. The alliance with the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center continues in the form of formal concerts at the center and mutual support for a strong performing arts presence in the community. The band is known throughout Georgia for its high level of musicianship and audience appeal. This is music at and from the grass roots, made by your neighbors. Look closely – you may see your doctor, dentist, attorney and your air conditioning mechanic, all united to preserve and continue a great American tradition, the community band.
The band of today differs greatly from the band of 1972, but the spirit and appreciation for good music played well has continued and flourished as the band has matured into one of the finest ensembles of its type in the southeast.
Founded under the baton of Charles Bradley, famed director of the outstanding East Atlanta Elementary Band, the band continued with George Webster as director and temporarily paused operations in the summer of 1973.
In the fall of 1973, the remaining members decided that the band would continue and asked for a show of hands from anyone who had ever been a band director. One hand hesitantly went up and by unanimous vote of everyone else, he was told, “Clyde, you are our new conductor” and given absolutely no choice in the matter whatsoever.
Clyde Bales had not “waved the stick” in about twenty years, and was making his living as a communications engineer. His music degree from LSU had rusted quietly except for playing percussion with the band for fun. He was, however, brave and willing to preside over our growth until 1985 when a job change transferred him away from Atlanta.
Clyde returned to us years later as an assistant conductor until he passed away on June 23, 2013. We will remember him for his truly terrible jokes and his uncanny resemblance to Santa.
After Clyde left in 1985, we were prepared for a formal conductor search, but fortunately did not have to look beyond our trumpet section. From 1985 until his passing on June 27, 2016, the podium was occupied by Mr. Raymond Handfield.
A little about Ray’s background: a life member of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia honorary music fraternity, Ray was a graduate of the Eastman School of Music (trumpet) where he was a student of Sidney Mear. His masters degree was from Boston University where he continued his trumpet study with Armando Ghitalla. He taught instrumental music and directed school bands in Massachusetts, New York and Georgia, retiring after a thirty year career.
Ray performed in concert with the Oslo, Norway Opera Orchestra. He served as principal trumpet with the Orchard Park Symphony Orchestra, New York where he also directed the youth orchestra and served on the board of directors. Ray served as principal trumpet with the “Opera Sacre” of Buffalo, New York. In Georgia he served as assistant principal trumpet for the Callanwolde Concert band before taking the podium in 1985. Other than music, Ray enjoyed playing duplicate bridge and golf.
It is difficult to put into words the impact that Ray had on Callanwolde Concert Band for the 31 years that he was our conductor. The band was the center of Ray’s life, and we very much felt his dedication to us. He expected excellence from us as musicians, and we tried our best to give that to him. Until his very last breaths, Ray was thinking of us. While in hospice, Ray listened to recordings of past concerts of the Callanwolde Concert Band. He will forever be in our hearts, and we wear the letters RH on our blue band shirts in his memory.
Glenn Moore took over as Music Director and Conductor after Ray’s passing. Read more about Glenn here.