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TEXAS BANDMASTERS HALL OF FAME
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Lowell E. Graham - Class of 2019
 

Lowell Graham was born on July 1, 1948, to Robert and Hazel Graham in Greeley, Colorado, and was their only child. He began piano lessons in the third grade—a result of hearing his mother play and wanting to join her on the piano bench playing duets. He began clarinet and violin in the fourth grade but had to make a choice a year later; clarinet won. He began in earnest to learn clarinet in the eighth grade, enjoying both the challenges and rewards. That same year he joined the clarinet section of the university-sponsored summer band, a membership that continued through his master’s degree. Oboe, and yes saxophone, also became part of his woodwind arsenal.
While at Greeley High School, he was on the tennis and track teams. High school was when the motorcycle bug bit Lowell (which continues today). He won a scholarship to the University of Northern Colorado (then Colorado State College) on clarinet, but again began his study of strings and earned a specialist certification in strings upon graduation in addition to his Music Education credential. While working on a master’s degree in Clarinet Performance the conducting bug hit and the rest is well documented. Lowell says of himself, “Simply, I am a product of public school music and music education.”
Upon completion of his master’s he won his first job at Colby Community College. His first band was twenty-three strong.
Graham started his DMA at the Conservatory at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and successfully completed all comprehensive examinations (given at the middle of the program in lieu of the end at that time) in orchestral conducting. After three years of teaching, he auditioned and was accepted for a conducting position with the United States Air Force. After spending a year as the Assistant Conductor of the USAF Band of the West, he moved to the capital, where he held numerous conducting positions to include that of the Commander and Conductor of the United States Air Force's premier musical organization in Washington, D.C. As a USAF Colonel, he became the senior ranking musician in the Department of Defense.
Upon moving to Washington, D.C., Lowell began graduate studies again, this time at The Catholic University of America. Interestingly, most of his earlier doctoral credits did not transfer so he began the DMA program from the beginning, completing it while working full-time. In 1977, he became the first person to be awarded the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in orchestral conducting from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Graham has initiated many important media projects for American Public Radio and other broadcasting organizations, as well as live telecast/webcast concerts and video productions on which his credits include those of conductor, writer, and musical producer. He is a frequent guest on radio talk shows and performed on NBC’s “Today Show” for five consecutive years on Independence Day.
In 1995, he was honored with membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association, the professional association of master conductors and musicians, and was named President in 2018. Membership is considered the highest honor achievable by American bandsmen; it recognized outstanding achievement in the field of concert bands. In 2014, he was named as the President and CEO of the John Philip Sousa Foundation.
In February 1996, Graham was inducted into the University of Northern Colorado School of Music “Hall of Honor.” This distinction was bestowed on only eighteen alumni and faculty who have achieved greatness as musicians, educators, and humanitarians in the school’s first 100 years. He received The Catholic University of America’s 1998 Alumni Achievement Award in the field of Music. This award, which is presented annually by the Board of Governors Alumni Association, recognized his accomplishments and honored him for his life’s work. In 1999, he received the University of Northern Colorado Alumni Association Honored Alumni Award in the category of “Contributions to Music.” In 2001, he was the recipient of the Award of Distinction for Contributions to Music Education from the Illinois Music Educators Association. The two previous recipients were Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Meryl J. Isaac. In 2003, he was the recipient of the Phi Beta Mu International Outstanding Bandmaster Award. In 2008, he was honored by the American School Band Directors Association with the A. Austin Harding Award for “making significant and lasting contributions to the school band movement.” In 2013, the University of Northern Colorado Graduate School honored him with the Century of Scholars Award in performance representing excellence and achievement in the previous 100 years of the Graduate School.
In 2005, Graham was named as the Supervising Editor for Ludwig Masters Music Publications, Inc., a division of Edwin F. Kalmus & Co., Inc. Masters Music Publications that includes rare, out-of-print, and foreign editions as well as offering one of the finest catalogs of original works and arrangements for concert band and wind ensemble available today.
Graham has released recordings on six labels—Naxos, Telarc, Klavier, Mark, Altissimo, and Wilson—that have been recognized for both their artistic and sonic excellence. These recordings have been recognized in Stereophile’s “Records to Die-For” list, The Absolute Sound’s “The Super Disc List,” as well as one having won a Grammy.

Dr. Graham moved to El Paso in 2002 as Chair of the Music Department at University of Texas at El Paso, and is currently the Director of Orchestral Activities and Professor of Conducting at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is the recipient of the Abraham Chavez Professorship in Music. He enjoys a distinguished career conducting ensembles in many musical media, including the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, the Virginia Symphony, the Spokane Symphony, the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, the American Promenade Orchestra, the Greeley Philharmonic, Chamber Music Palm Beach Chamber Orchestra, the Westsächsisches Symphonieorchester, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Banda Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, Orquestra de Sopros Brasileira, Banda Sinfónica de la Provincia de Córdoba —Argentina, Banda Municipal de Música de Bilbao—España, Banda Municipal de Barcelona—España, the National Symphonic Winds, the National Chamber Players, the Avatar Brass Ensemble, and the Denver Brass. In 2006, he was named the “Director Honorífico Anual” for the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Paraguay.
Lowell and his wife, Suzy, have two daughters, Leah and Julie, and four grandchildren.


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