Candidate Cormac Cannon
University of South Carolina
Director of Bands
Over the past 20 years, the College Band Directors National Association has had a profound impact on my musical upbringing and career. The musical inspiration and opportunities provided by CBDNA have helped shape my work as a wind ensemble conductor and athletic band director. Since 2019 I have been the Director of Bands at the University of South Carolina, following 4 years as Associate Director of Bands and Director of Athletic Bands at the same institution. Prior to coming to South Carolina, I spent 6 years as Assistant Director of Bands at Michigan State University. I began my teaching career in Iowa, where I taught high school in a rural community for 4 years. I hold degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (DMA), University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (MM) and the University of Iowa (BM).
I am fortunate to have had significant and diverse involvement with CBDNA. In addition to attending numerous divisional and national conferences as a young band director and graduate student, I assisted in planning and hosting the national conference in Austin in 2009. In 2018, my ensemble from the University of South Carolina performed at the divisional conference in Tampa, FL, and in 2023, my ensemble will perform at the national conference in Athens, GA. I hosted the 2022 Southern Division conference in Columbia, SC, which was a unique community-based conference that brought a new perspective to what a conference could be.
As a marching band director, my bands have twice been selected for the CBDNA National Conference video showcase: 2015 in Nashville, TN, and 2017 in Kansas City, MO. I have given numerous presentations at CBDNA Athletic Bands Symposia, including a juried research presentation in 2017 in Amherst, MA.
I currently serve CBDNA as chair of the new ad-hoc committee on enrollment challenges, which is working to examine the “demographic cliff” that will have a stark effect on university enrollments beginning in 2025. It is a true honor to serve our professional organization as part of this important committee.
Vision for the Future of CBDNA
The College Band Directors National Association has done much important work to support and promote college bands, and we must continue and expand this work. Our vision for the future should address the needs of college band programs of all sizes, expand our commitment to diversity, and continue to be sensitive to the changing needs of our students.
Over the past several years, CBDNA has expanded its reach to better serve a broad range of colleges and universities, from the largest and most established universities with large schools of music, to the lesser-served small colleges and 2-year institutions. We should continue to listen to and respond to the needs of directors and students from every type of institution and program. We must continue to support the important work of our athletic band directors, and advocate for our colleagues who are asked to fulfill a wide variety of duties on their faculties. We should work to help increase access to quality new repertoire for collegiate ensembles of all levels by encouraging and supporting commissioning projects which consider diversity of ability and funding access.
CBDNA has done much work to encourage diversity in programming and promote composers from underrepresented populations. As we look to the future, we should continue to look for ways to inspire more diversity in the next generation of performers, conductors, and composers by serving more diverse communities through performances and outreach efforts. While CBDNA is (and should be) focused on college bands, we must not lose sight of our responsibility to serve today’s young music makers, who indeed are tomorrow’s college band members.
CBDNA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was nothing short of remarkable. Time and time again, CBDNA has acted quickly to rally its members, draw on experts, and make recommendations on how to preserve our art form on behalf of our students. We must continue to be nimble, adaptable, and decisive as we prepare for the next challenge, whether it is declining enrollment, dwindling budgets, or lack of support for large ensembles and athletic bands. In planning future conferences, we should celebrate our artistic and scholarly achievement in order to inspire each other. Our conferences should honor our traditions while also responding to the needs of today’s students and directors. We should ensure that conferences include timely topical discussions that serve our membership and we should encourage the kind of flexibility in performance that best serves our current generation of student performers.
The College Band Directors National Association is a dynamic, passionate community of artists, teachers, and scholars who are wholly committed to our students and our art form. The leadership of CBDNA must continue to listen to its members and anticipate the challenges of the future, and it would be my honor to serve our membership on the CBDNA Executive Board.