More honors for Garwood Whaley

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If you have had a child involved in music at any Catholic school in the Arlington Diocese over the past 30 years, you have probably heard the name Garwood Whaley.

Whaley, who retired from Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria in 2004 after serving as the director of fine arts at the school for 34 years, will be honored at a concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington March 11.

During his time at Ireton, Whaley created the wind ensemble, which has won numerous awards.

Whaley was educated at the Julliard School in New York and Catholic University in Washington, where he earned a doctorate in musical arts.

He started teaching fulltime at Ireton in 1971, after offering private music lessons at the school since 1966 while he was a member of the U.S. Army Band.

Among the honors he has received are the Outstanding Secondary Educators of America Award, the National Band Association's Citation of Excellence and the John Philip Souza Foundation's Legion of Honor.

In 1998, in recognition of his contributions to Ireton, the school named the new performance hall the Garwood Whaley Auditorium.

The Kennedy Center concert is sponsored by Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, and is billed as "Advance Always - A Celebration of Frank Battisti and Garwood Whaley." Battisti is another renowned music educator from Cambridge, Mass.

Randall Eyles, chairman of the Ireton fine arts department, is organizing the event for the school. He said that Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde will be a special guest at the concert. The Bishop Ireton Wind Ensemble, conducted by Eyles, the Baldwin Wallace U. Conservatory Wind Ensemble and the Arlington Diocesan Choir will perform.

Brendan Caldwell, a 1992 graduate of Ireton is the director of wind ensembles at Baldwin Wallace University and will be conducting the wind ensemble at the event.

Caldwell said that Whaley was influential in his life and was the man who pushed him to musical excellence. Caldwell commissioned the piece "Advance Always" by composer Clint Needham especially for the concert.

"He's the angel who sits on my shoulder," Caldwell said of Whaley.

Whaley now lives in Delray Beach, Fla. He is founder and president of a music publication company - Meredith Music.

He said he is honored to be recognized at the Kennedy Center, but surprised at the attention. When Caldwell called him and said he wanted to do this concert, Whaley said he "almost fell off my seat."

"I'm totally flabbergasted," he said. "I told (Caldwell), 'You've got to be kidding?"'

He figures he must have done something right all those years at Ireton, because he still gets emails and letters from his former students.

"I'm proud of (Caldwell) and all my students," he said.

Some of those students undoubtedly will be there March 11, joining Ireton students who might not know the man, but know his legacy.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016