Former students stage musical tribute to beloved band director

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT
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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - The Bellows Free Academy community gathered in St. Albans Thursday to give a beloved former band director a musical tribute.

“He could be teaching and nurturing and demanding, but you were never afraid of him being angry. He did it out of love,” Eric Benjamin said.

Benjamin graduated from BFA-St. Albans in 1972, and is just one of the many former high school band members and National Guard band members who made the trip back to their hometown to play a sendoff for beloved band director Verne Colburn.

“His music impacted people in so many different ways in educational settings, in military settings and in social settings. And in all of these settings, my dad’s talent and joy in making music really shone through,” said Michael Colburn, Verne’s son.

Verne Colburn, 83, died back in November when COVID restrictions prevented his family from having a proper funeral.

Verne’s son, Michael, went on to be the director of the U.S. Marine Corps band. He says this is a fitting tribute to the man who instilled the love of music in so many people.

“Music definitely will bring people together as we saw here today,” Michael Colburn said.

In the band were musicians in their 80s all the way down to their teens-- people who were mentored by Verne Colburn so many years ago. Colburn was the band director at BFA-St. Albans from 1963 to 1996 and also directed the 40th Army National Guard Band.

Many said it was his mentorship and infectious love and talent for music that kept them involved in music for so many years. They say Verne Colburn was one of those teachers who makes a lifelong impact.

Current BFA-St. Albans Band Director Eric Bushey said, “A fitting tribute for such a great man and such a great musician who touched so many lives to bring people back together today to rehearse and to play and to honor his memory.”

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