Since he arrived on campus in the 1990s, Professor Emeritus Artie Clifton’s goal was to create a top-notch community band for Jacksonville, and provide the best educational experience to his music students.
Luckily, the two went hand in hand. Clifton developed the First Coast Wind Symphony, and JU students have played in it, networked with its musicians and hosted its performances since.
And this month, Clifton’s decades of dedication to the FCWS as founder, music director and conductor was recognized with the top honor for community bands in the country: The John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Silver Scroll Award.
The award recognizes “community bands that have demonstrated particularly high standards of excellence in concert activities over a period of several years, and which have played a significant and leading role in the cultural and musical environment in their respective communities.”
“Artie Clifton has established his career as a conductor as someone who has meticulous attention to detail and is committed to the highest standard of artistry in wind music,” said Dr. Tim Snyder, Dean of the Linda Berry Stein College of Fine Arts & Humanities. “Artie established that when he came to JU in the early 1990s, that was part of his calling card during his years as a professor here and it’s so great to see him recognized for that on a national level.”
The First Coast Wind Symphony is a non-profit community music organization. Volunteer musicians comprise the band, and thanks to the longtime partnership Clifton has fostered, JU students play alongside the band, as do the University’s alumni. The band also partners with local high schools for concerts and hosts an annual Concerto Competition for high school and college musicians, in addition to the concerts it plays for the community throughout the year.
“Creating the band gave us a way to help JU students connect with local professionals in the community,” Clifton said. “That was a very important part of founding it. I’m a big believer in giving back to the community and being able to provide a cultural opportunity for audiences in Jacksonville.”
“We are very proud to receive this recognition,” Clifton said. “It’s not easy to get this award, and it was quite a process to apply.”
Dr. Snyder said he’s been following the band for nearly 15 years, and in that time, has known it as “one of the finest” community ensembles in the country that consistently displays “the highest attention to musical and artistic detail, superb professionalism, musicianship, and deeply moving interpretations of the repertoire.”
“JU is proud to be a partner and supporter of the FCWS since its inception in 1990,” Dr. Snyder said. “Under Prof. Clifton’s outstanding leadership, the symphony has richly supported the academic program in music at Jacksonville University and has served as part of our community outreach in the arts for over three decades.”
To see the First Coast Wind Symphony perform, take a look at its upcoming concerts here.