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Luther Snavely - Class of 2009

Luther M. Snavely, Jr. was born on May 29, 1931, in Harlingen, Texas. His parents were Luke and Ruby Snavely. He attended high school in Brownsville where he played in the band all four years. He earned superior awards in all music events entered and was selected as first horn in the 1948 All-State Band.

Upon graduating from high school, he accepted a music scholarship to attend Baylor University. At Baylor he performed with the band, orchestra, and opera orchestra. He graduated as the top male student in the music school and second in his class.

Snavely and several of his friends auditioned and were accepted for membership in the Fourth Army Band which he joined after sixteen weeks of basic training. The Fourth Army Band played a weekly radio show and toured throughout the Southwest. The band also served as the reading band for new music at the TBA conventions every summer.
Luther was honorably discharged from the army three months early in order to attend summer school at the University of Texas. In 1955 he accepted a position as assistant band director under Joe Frank in Harlingen. He taught one year as the assistant high school director and two years as the junior high director. His junior high band won seven consecutive superior ratings and won the Outstanding Concert Band ward at the Buccaneer Music Festival in competition with thirty-two high school bands.

In 1958 Luther accepted the position as high school band director in McAllen. His first year band earned second division awards in marching, concert, and sight-reading. The following fall the band began a ten year string of consecutive first divisions. The band also began a ten year concert series with known guest artists including Karl King, Meredith Willson, Doc Severinsen, William Revelli, Alfred Reed, Bobby Herrriot, Paul Yoder, Harold Walters, and Eugene Rousseau.

In 1964 the band initiated a yearly spring concert tour of Mexico.
The McAllen High School band was eligible to enter the Honor Band competition three times finishing second, fourth, and first. The band also led the region and the state several times in the number of All-Region and All-State members selected. The 1968 band had 59 all-region and 16 all-state members. The McAllen High School band was selected by the John Phillip Sousa Foundation as one of the eight outstanding Texas concert bands for the period of 1960-1980.

The Vandercook College of Music awarded Luther Snavely a Master of Music degree in 1959. He started work on a doctorate at the University of Texas in the summer of 1960 and continued his studies for the next several years while still teaching in McAllen.

In 1969 Snavely enrolled at the University of Texas as a full-time student. He also served as the Associate Director of Music for the University Interscholastic League. He was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree in May of 1971 and accepted the position as Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music at the University of Mississippi.

During his sixteen years at Ole Miss, Snavely more than doubled the size of the band and turned it into one of the top university band programs in the South. He is very proud of the fact that at one time there were more than 150 of his former students teaching band in all parts of the country and many of them are still teaching in Texas. He was awarded the Outstanding Teacher Award in 1976.

In 1987 Dr. Snavely accepted the position of Director of Bands and Professor of Music at the University of Notre Dame. The NBC television contract and major bowl appearances gave the Notre Dame band more television exposure than any other band in the country. The band performed at the Cotton Bowl three times, Orange Bowl three times, Fiesta Bowl twice, and the Sugar Bowl, Gator Bowl, and Independence Bowls. The Notre Dame band took an extended concert tour each spring and returned to a home concert audience of at least two thousand each year.

Dr. Snavely has been a member of numerous professional organizations including the ABA. He is the only member from the music department at Notre Dame to be awarded the prestigious Special Presidential Award for contributions to the university. Dr. Snavely served in many offices during his tenure in Texas, including State Band Chairman and head of the Music Selection Committee and vice president of TMEA. Dr. Snavely has served as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator throughout the United States.

Luther married Rebecca Rodriguez in 1964. She also enjoyed a successful career as a band director. Luther and Rebecca have two children. Luther III is a Notre Dame Law School graduate and a practicing attorney in Las Vegas, and Kelly Jean who is also a Notre Dame graduate and a teacher trainer for the University of Phoenix in Atlanta. Luther and Rebecca are enjoying retirement at their home in The Villages, Florida.

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