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THE WAINWRIGHT STORY...THE CONTEST
March 29, 1979

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PIX #1 - WAINWRIGHT'S ORCHESTRA PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1926 - Front row (left to right): Bernice Munger, (next three unknown), Judith Solomon, Gertrude Kelbley, Betty Wainwright, Willerd Radar. Second row: Alan Blose, Mrs. Wainwright, Martha Crocker, Katherine Keyes, accompanist, Geraldine Myers, Ada Dowell, Esther Bair, (next unknown), Virginia Kessler. Third row: Claire Conley, (next unknown), Betty Harriman, Alice Lowe, Arvilla Mann. Photo taken in Wainwright Music Conservatory at 525 N. Main Street.

PIX #2 - AWARD PRESENTED - Captain W.H. Santelman, director U.S. Marine Band, Washington, D.C. awarding first prize ribbon to J.W. Wainwright, director of Fostoria High School Band, winners of the first prize in National School Band Contest of America, June 1923.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third in a four-part series about Jack Wainwright, a Fostorian who was also a note band leader in the U.S.

Saturday, June 2, 1923, at midnight, the Fostoria High School Band left for the National contest in Chicago. Several hundred people were on hand to see them off.

The Fostoria Daily Review in its June 4, edition, reporting from Chicago said..."Fostoria's High School Band has taken this city by storm".

"A bus took the band to the Municipal Pier, where they had dinner and rested for an hour. Toward 8 o'clock there were more than 10,000 persons on the pier and at the request of the management of the Pier the boys played a number. The applause was so terrific that an encore was demanded. Before the band had been assembled a quarter of an hour 35,000 persons had listened to their numbers.

THE CONTEST

Of the 30 bands participating in the contest, eight were a bandstand was erected near the Art Institute and the Congress Hotel, between Michigan Avenue and the Illinois Central Railroad tracks.

The judge for the contest was Lt. William H. Santelmann, conductor of the United States Marine Corps Band.

The Fostoria Daily Review gave the following account of the band's performance:

"When the Fostoria High School boys band finished the "Bohemian Girl" in their contest this morning they received a tremendous ovation from the thousands of people who were on hand to hear the boys from Ohio play".

"J.W. Wainwright was master of the situation at all times and led his boys through the number, as one man expressed it, in as fine a manner as John Phillip Sousa ever dared to".

"Music lovers and critics were astounded when the Fostoria Band started the "Bohemian Girl" as their contest number, believing that it was entirely over their head and they would be unable to make a dent into the real way it was written to be played. But the boys had not played five bars before the eyes of those critics started to pop out and they slid out and they slid over to the edge of their seats so as not to miss a single note".

FOSTORIA CHAMPS

The Fostoria High School Band was awarded first place, giving them the title of "National Champions". The band scored a total of 34 out of a possible 40 points. In addition to the $1,000 first place prize, the band also received a $450, set of timpani; a $168 silver flute, and a $160 Selmer clarinet.

At the conclusion of the presentation of awards, Wainwright was honored by directing the massed bands in the National Emblem March.

WAINWRIGHT'S OPINION

Wainwright, at a later date, speaking at the Music Supervisors National Conference, expressed his opinion why the band received the championship title:

"We were one of the last bands to be called to the platform during the contest and by then the strain which we had been under during the last few weeks and especially since arriving in Chicago had begun to tell upon the boys, to say nothing of their director".

"We started to play our number and everthing went smoothly until we were about two thirds of the way through. Just as we were about to begin the cornet solo, "Then You'll Remember Me", through some conflict of arrangements, another high school band came directly toward us playing a lively march. Of course, I had been holding our band down as much as possible so we were almost drowned out. What should we do, go on or stop? If we stopped, probably we would be counted out. If we went on we could not be heard to advantage and one of the most effective spots in the number would be lost. Just before the cornet picks up the solo there is a hold followed by a pause. During this pause, I turned questioningly to the judge, then turned quickly back and went on. It seemed but an instant until the word was sent for us to stop. I did so by calling out to the boys out on the next measure. And not one of them heard but followed the instructions perfectly. As soon as the other band was notified of its error, we started in again just where we left off and finished".

"I have reason to believe that our band had won as much because they had demonstrated their ability to follow their director in any emergency as because of their inerpretation and the technical accuracy with which they played the composition".

HEROS WELCOMED HOME

The Potluck editor, plus many other Fostorians still living, remember the day when the National Championship Band returned home.

They were greeted at the B and O train station by thousands of Fostorians and others from neighboring towns. When the band stepped off the train, pandemonium broke loose as the crowd surged toward the boys cheering them while the factory whistles flew.

Wainwright was met at the station by his wife and both presented with bouquets of flowers. Wainwright was given carnations in the shape of a floral baton. He was overwelmed by the reception, and with tears streaming down his cheeks, he thanked the people of Fostoria.

Only after the line of march had wound it way from the station north on Union street and to the High School building...and only after the band boys had left their instruments in the music room...only then did the parents have an opportunity to greet their sons and extend family honors to their musical heroes. In May of 1923, the band began to receive invitations to play at various functions throughout the state...one of them was to perform at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. They accepted, and in return for $800 played whenever the fair management called upon them to do so.

Their appearance at the State Fair that year was the start of a program in which instrumentalists from high schools all over Ohio were selected each year to be part of the State Fair Band. Wainwright was the original organizer of that activity which has continued each year at the Ohio State Fair.

Wainwright directed the All-Ohio High School Band from 1924 through the 1931 season. During that period he personally auditioned the majority of the band's 300 boy-members. In 1975, girls were admitted to the band for the first time. The name of the band changed over the years, and officially became the All-Ohio state Fair Band in 1977.

1924 OHIO STATE CONTEST

While the committee on Instrumental Affairs was drawing plans for another national contest, Ohio was busy Wainwright the first Ohio State School band contest was held June 5-7, 1924, in Fostoria.

The Fostoria Band Boosters were in charge of providing meals and housing eight school bands during their Fostoria stay. The boosters secured local citizens to provide complimentary housing and meals. The boosters also provided printed signs for automobiles which read, "HOP IN...BAND BOOSTERS". Cars so labelled provided free transportation for visitors around town.

The Fostoria's band's program included "Independentis", "Egmont Overture", and "Atlantis Suite".

They won the contest. The Cleveland West Technical Band was second, and the Akron High School Band was third.

The June 7 issue of The Fostoria Daily Review carried the following article:

"Their appearance was the signal for a thunderous outburst of enthusiastic applause and greetings of confidence which lasted until the first crashing strains of the warm-up march had started. Oh! how that band did play. Their interpretation and rendition of "Egmont Overture" and "Atlantis Suite" held the audience spellbound. The deafening welcome arrorded the band when they came on the stage was a mere whisper compared to the pandemonium that broke like a tidal wave over the auditorium at the conclusion of the final selection. What their hearts had told them was borne out by an unanimous decision of the judges".

BAND ASSOCIATION FORMED

The present Ohio Music Education Association traces its foundation to the first historic Ohio State Band Contest held in Fostoria in 1924, when the Ohio High School Band Association was formed.

Through Wainwright's efforts a luncheon meeting of all Ohio band directors was called for Friday, June 6, 1942, at the Fostoria at which time Wainwright was elected president of the Ohio High School Band Association by acclamation J. Merton Holcombe, Mansfield, was elected treasurer. Wainwright appointed Vivian Pearson secretary.

The purpose of the Ohio High School Band Association was the promotion of school bands, and improvement of standards of instrumental music education in the public schools of Ohio. In 1932, the organization changed it name to the Ohio Music Education Association, to include choral and general music activities.

1925-1926 OHIO STATE CONTEST

The Ohio High School Band Association voted to hold the 1925 contest on May 21-22, in the Akron Armory, Akron. The Fostoria High School Band was the winner. They received a score of 94.66 out of a possible 100 points.

During 1924 and 1925, there were not any National Contests because sufficient state contests had not been held to meet the requirements. Consequently the Fostoria High School band retained its title of national champions during those years.

At the second Ohio High School Band Association meeting held in Mansfield on Nov. 1, 1925, they voted to hold the 1926 Ohio State Band Contest in Mansfield. J. Merton Holcombe, director of the Mansfield High School Band, was named to take charge of the contest.

Of the nineteen school bands that participated, Fostoria was heavily favored to win. The contest was held in the Mansfield Coliseum.

Mansfield was declared the 1926 winner, with Fostoria being second place winner. Conswquently, both Mansfield and Fostoria were elegible to attend the national contest.

1926 NATIONAL CONTEST

With enough state and regional contests having been held under the supervision of the Committee on Instrumental Affairs, 1926 was the occasion for the first National School Band Contest under the auspices of that organization.

Through the efforts of Wainwright and Supt. F.H. Warren, Fostoria was named as the contest site. Fostoria was chosen because of its central location, and was easily accessable by many railroads. Prime consideration, however, may have been "Wainwright", an enthusiastic promotor, who knew as much about band contests as anybody.

A total of thirteen bands with approximately 800 students representing 10 states participated.

As in the 1924 Ohio State contest hosted by Fostoria, the local citizens provided lodging for the bands. The Band Boosters again provided free automobile transportation for the visiting bands. They also provided badges which read "Ask Me" worn by citizens who acted as walking information booths. Fostorians decorated the city with flags and posters in honor of the national event.

Judges for the contest were: W.F. Robinson, director of the Royal Kilties Band, Toronto, Canada; J.E. Maddy, director of Public School Music, University of Michigan; Lt. W.E. White, director of United States Army Music School, Washington, D.C.

JOLIET BAND WINNER

On Saturday, June 6, after a parade of bands through the business district, a massed band concert was presented and the awards given.

The first place $1,000 trophy was awarded to the Joliet Township High School Band, A.R. Mac Allister, director, with 92.6 points. Second prize was awarded to the Fostoria High School Band with 92 points.

Fostorians received the loss of the national title with good sportsmanship. Mrs. Wainwright recalls that it had been a "wrench" for Jack to relinquish the coveted national championship, which his band had held for three years.

Jim Guernsey recalls that although the loss may fave distressed Wainwright at first, he quickly overcame it. Jack was a fighter and he wouldn't let anything get him down, said Guernsey.

The Joliet band was organized in 1912 and was the earliest organized band at the contest.

MCALLISTER PRAISED JACK

McAllister wrote Wainwright the following letter which was printed in The Fostoria Review:

"I want to take my hat off to you as the ideal citizen. You are the best school band director in the country. There is not another school the size of yours that has done half what you have.

You are a most efficient organizer and promotor. There was nothing that could have been improved upon in handling the contest. Your wonderful city of Fostoria is in a class by itself. There is no city in the world which has ever approached the sincere hospitality shown by every citizen.

NATIONAL BAND ASSOCIATION FORMED

At the time of the 1926 band contest the national School Institutions and by laws and the following officers were elected: president, Hy Lammers, Ogden, Utah; first vice president, A.R. McAallister, Joliet, Illinois; second vice president, J.W. Wainwright, Fostoria; secretary-treasurer, C.M. Tremaine.

The mission of the organization was to foster and promote the establishment of school bands and the development and improvement of band music in the schools. For the next seventeen years the National Band Association regulated the national contests.

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