Music has always been a part of the fabric of NC State. Imagine halftime of football games without the marching band, or basketball games without the pep band. Imagine the wide range of concerts – from classical to rock – that have taken place on campus. Imagine the Bell Tower without bells. (Yes, we know that there have been times when all people could do was imagine bells in the Bell Tower.)
Much of that musical presence on campus got its start in the 1920s. According to Alice Elizabeth Reagan’s North Carolina State University: A Narrative History, that decade was “the era of great expansion in music” at the university.
It was on this day in 1924 that the Department of Music was established in the School of Science and Business. But music director Percy W. Price (known as “Daddy” Price to countless students) also encouraged the development of an ROTC band, a concert band, a glee club and an orchestra. Price also founded Mu Beta Psi, a musical honorary fraternity, according to Reagan.
Price had come to NC State in 1918 as an instructor in textiles, but his interest in music led him to volunteer to help the band.
“When he took over the reins, there were a few old battered instruments, no music, and very little equipment of any kind,” according to the Alumni News. “This would have discouraged most men, but P.W. was not that kind. The old instruments were cleaned, repaired, and put into use.”
Reagan notes that by the end of the decade, Price had created a band to play at football games and one to play weekly concerts on WPTF radio station.
Fittingly, NC State’s music department is now housed in the Price Music Center.
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As the director of bands at NC State from 1982 to 1994, Frank Hammond pushed his students to play their instruments better than they thought possible and to perform shows that, at times, seemed ridiculously ambitious. He helped them develop a lifelong love of music that would stay with them as they moved on to careers as engineers or chemists or chefs. And he taught them lessons that had little to do with music.
“I probably learned more from him than any other professor,” says Rob Faggart, a 1993 graduate from China Grove, N.C. “But it was not about music. It was about life, about responsibility, about doing what you loved and doing everything to the best of your ability.”
Hammond died Jan. 7 at his home in Washington, N.C. He was 78.
Many of Hammond’s former students spent time with Hammond at a surprise reunion in November at the Washington Yacht and Country Club. About 50 students, some of them from as far away at Washington state and Florida, came to honor a man that they considered a mentor and a friend. They each brought their instrument and performed the NC State fight song from memory.
“There are some people that pour into your life and expect nothing in return other than for you to be a better person. That really personifies who he was to me,” says Glenn Massengill of Clayton, N.C., who has three degrees from NC State. “He really gave selflessly of himself and he was so humble. It was always about what you were doing, how much better you could be.”
Massengill, who sells plastic additives and colorants as an account executive for Ampacet Corp., couldn’t read music when he came to NC State in 1987 and, as a result, did not make the cut when he first tried out for the marching band. But he said Hammond put him in a rehearsal band, where he learned to play music. Massengill went on to become the field conductor for the marching band, and he continues to play the trumpet and other brass instruments today.
“I wasn’t the most talented person, but what he did was really push me beyond what I thought my potential was,” he says. “I still play today, and it’s been 25 years. He said that music could be part of your life and not consume your life.”
Jennifer Fuller, a 1991 graduate, recalls Hammond pushing her to play a flute solo with the university’s symphonic band. Fuller, who is now an engineer with the N.C. Department of Transportation, said she suffered from such terrible stage fright that she could not imaging performing a solo.
“He pushed me to do things that I really wasn’t comfortable doing musically,” she says. “He pushed me, and I’m glad he did. He helped me realize some potential and build some self confidence. He believed in all of his students. It didn’t occur to him that you couldn’t do it.”
Fuller says Hammond set high standards for the band and helped each member play better. But she said his lessons often had nothing to do with music. “If you were having trouble with something musically, he was there for you,” she says. “But he was there to bounce off any old problem, what to do with the rest of your life. He was always glad to see you.”
Faggart says he continues to benefit from Hammond’s lessons, noting that he recently decided to follow his passion by enrolling in culinary school. “He just had a real passion for life that came through in everything he did,” he says. “He got extremely excited about everything we did.”
Visitation will be held at Hammond’s home at 129 Fairway Drive, Washington, N.C., from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.
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Donald B. Adcock, the longtime director of the marching band and other bands and musical groups at NC State, died this week. He was 85.
Adcock worked at NC State for 22 years, retiring in 1982 after helping hundreds of students become better musicians and entertaining thousands at football games, basketball games and other events.
Adcock was remembered by some of his former students this week as a demanding leader who expected the best from his musicians. They said he also took a personal interest in each of the students who played for him.
“Don was the kind of guy that you would walk through fire for,” said Charles Johnson ’76 of Cary, who played the trumpet in the marching band, orchestra, symphonic band and stage band. “He made the band and the musical program at State a real pleasure. People took pride in doing their very best for him.”
Johnson said Adcock was not hesitant to do things his way, noting that the group that played at NC State basketball games in those days was not a pep band that played the same fight songs over and over. Instead, they were a stage band that played a lot of big band music to entertain the Reynolds Coliseum crowd before games and at halftime. Johnson said UNC basketball coach Dean Smith once told Adcock how much he enjoyed the group’s big band sound.
“He made us better than we could ever have been without his strong leadership,” Johnson said of Adcock. “He was a guy you could laugh with and tell jokes with. But when it came time to put on a performance, he wanted the very best. He instilled that sense of pride in us.”
Pam Wilson ’77 of Raleigh started private lessons with Adcock when she was in the fifth grade. She came to NC State, in part, because she wanted to continue to perform with Adcock.
Women had just been allowed in the marching band when Wilson was a student at NC State, and the students received no course credit for their time with the band. But Adcock required band members to meet every day at noon for an hour of practice. Each week, he would have a new show for them to perform at that weekend’s football game.
“He loved the band members, cared about them personally,” Wilson said. “But he held you to a high standard. If you made a mistake, you went back and you fixed it and then you never made it again. Because of that, I became a much, much better player. He demanded excellence and he got it.”
Adcock’s daughter, Sylvia Adcock ’81, is the managing editor of NC State magazine. She said that after retiring from NC State, her father never stopped cheering for the Wolfpack and made sure he never missed a game.
Photo courtesy of Historical State collection, NC State Libraries.
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About 65 members of the Class of 1961 are returning to campus this weekend for a reunion 50 years after they graduated from NC State.
Among the weekend activities are a golf outing at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course on Centennial Campus, a tour of the JC Raulston Arboretum and a campus overview provided by the University Architect’s office.
Attendees will get a chance to learn from some of NC State’s best professors as part of the “Classes without Quizzes” program and hear from Chancellor Randy Woodson during a Forever Club Luncheon on Saturday.
In the spirit of the occasion, our blog this week will feature photos from NC State from 1960 and 1961, courtesy of the Historical State collection at NC State University Libraries.
Such as this one, of the NC State Marching Band performing during halftime of a football game in 1960…
Or this one, of a military commissioning ceremony in 1961…
Or this one, of Harrelson Hall under construction in 1961…
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