Early History of the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival

1986
Fritz Stansell, Seymour Okun, Henry Nelson, and Eldon Rosegart conceived of and began the Festival as a tangible enduring way to honor the memory of Dr. Leonard Falcone. The objectives developed for the Falcone Festival have remained fairly constant, as has the importance of an international presence. Fritz Stansell offered Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (BLFAC), where Leonard had taught high school students for many summers, as the venue for the new competition.

That first year they worked very hard to publicize the competition (at that time for Euphonium only) and develop the criteria, procedures, and logistics. Artist Level first place award was $1000 plus a performance with the Blue Lake Festival Band conducted by Donald Flickinger, with awards for second place ($500) and third place ($200). Awards for Student Level were $300-first place and $150-second place.

There were 34 total entries (24 artists and 10 students) with five artist and three student competitors reaching the semi-final round at Blue Lake. The competitors were able to choose the solo they wished to perform in addition to the required pieces in the double-screened first rounds.

The budget for the entire Festival was a modest $8,000. Roger Behrend served as the chairman of adjudicators, and there were a total of five judges. The US Navy Tuba-Euphonium Quartet (Roger Behrend, Martin Erickson, John Bowman, and Keith Mehlan) opened the competition with a concert. Behrend, Erickson, Bowman, and Brian Bowman of the US Air Force Band were soloists with the Festival Band under the direction of Donald Flickinger. The very first winners–on Saturday, July 12, 1986–were Angie Hunter, Artist Level, and Lance LaDuke, Student Level.

Initial honorary board members helped publicize the Festival among their colleagues and students and also participated in the early days of fund-raising. However, it was Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and the small Executive Committee, plus Donald Flickinger that kept the Festival going in those early years. Important logistical support was provided by Jim and Bill Gray, who left the Festival to found the Brass Band of Battle Creek.

1987
Artist Level awards were increased to $1,500, $700, and $400; and Student Level to $400, $200, and $100. Awards were again adjusted in 1988: Artist Level, $1500, $700, and $400; Student Level, $800, $400, and $200, and continue to be adjusted today. In the Festival’s second year, Euphonium-Tuba Day was added to the schedule in order to develop support among local Michigan euphonium and tuba players.

The Executive Committee worked hard in the Festival’s first years to consolidate job responsibilities, develop rules for the competition, and raise funds so the competition could continue.

1991
The Festival Board supplemented the competition with additional activities including lessons, ensembles, master classes, and clinics, which were generally led by the adjudication panel.

1996
Tuba divisions were added to the competition

2004
The Festival incorporated in its own name as an educational non-profit 501c3 organization. The strong foundation of objectives and procedures set in place by the founders, along with the continued support of BLFAC, has allowed it to grow steadily and remain a fine tribute to Dr. Leonard Falcone.

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2017 FESTIVAL DEADLINES
March 31...Application Deadline
May 1...Semi-Finalists Notified
August 11-14...Festival Competition 

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