Col. (Ret.) L. Bryan Shelburne Jr.

Leader and Commander of the U.S. Army Band, BM 1965

Lesley Bryan Shelburne Jr. was born January 25, 1941, in Abilene, Texas, to Lesley B. and Betty (Routh) Shelburne Sr. He graduated from Hamlin High School in 1959 and entered Hardin-Simmons University.

While a student at HSU, he was holding down five different jobs and going to school at the same time. He petitioned for and was granted a music scholarship and was placed in the jazz combo, where he was a leading trombonist. He was a member of Phi Mu Alpha and Sigma Delta Sigma, and was director of the Phi Mu Alpha stage band. Shelburne played in the Cowboy Band, serving as band vice president from 1963 to 1964 and as president from 1964 to 1965.

He was commissioned a second lieutenant through the HSU ROTC program at the May 1965 graduation ceremonies and received a Bachelor of Music in education degree.

In 1962, he married the former Sereta Kiser, whom he met while both were students at HSU and played in the concert band together. She graduated in 1963. They are the parents of two children, Kerri and Darren.

After graduating from HSU, Shelburne was granted military deferment for graduate studies and completed his Master of Music degree at Arizona State University in 1967. He also completed requirements while at HSU for the Texas all-level teaching certificate, and taught both beginner instrumental music and high school bands in Houston, Texas.

He studied choral composition and arranging with Alice Parker, the famed musical collaborator with Robert Shaw, and instrumental composition with the late Ron LoPresti. He also studied with Dr. Grant Fletcher, and briefly, with Dr. Andy Patterson. He has studied choral conducting at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and wind band history and literature with Dr. Robert Garofalo at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

From 1968 to 1970, Shelburne was stationed at the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Norfolk, Virginia, in the U. S. Army Element, Armed Forces School of Music. While there, he was assistant commandant and executive officer, supervising a staff of 70 and conducting the student concert band for special events.

From 1970 to 1973, Shelburne was director of bands and music coordinator for Aldine Senior High School in Houston, Texas. From 1973 to 1990, Shelburne conducted Army Bands in Norfolk, Virginia: Heidelberg, Germany; Fort Meyer, Virginia; and the U. S. Military Academy Band at West Point.

In 1990, he began the final 10 years of his 30-year career as only the sixth leader and commander of the United States Army Band in Washington, D. C. Known as “Pershing’s Own,” the band was established in 1922 by General of the Armies John J. Pershing, Army Chief of Staff, in emulation of European military bands he heard during World War I. It is the premier musical organization of the United States Army.

His conducting experience also includes brass groups at Arizona State University as a Teaching Fellow, church choirs in three states, and professional military wind and vocal groups in Europe as well as within the United States.

His performance experience includes six seasons as bass trombone and principal trombone with the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, and a season of playing auxiliary brass parts with the Phoenix Symphony while completing the Master of Music degree at Arizona State University. He organized and ran The Valley Brass Quintet, drawn from the Phoenix Symphony musicians, during the 1966-1967academic year in the Phoenix valley, performing throughout Arizona as part of a federally funded program to bring arts to the schools.

He was chosen in 1976 to be the associate director and deputy commander for the United States Armed Forces Bicentennial Band and Chorus, which was organized to help the nation celebrate its bicentennial year.

Shelburne was selected in 1989 for membership in the American Bandmasters Association and served for 10 years on the Board of Directors for the John Philip Sousa Foundation. He is a member of the National Band Association, the Music Educators National Conference, and is a lifetime member of the College Band Directors National Association.

Upon his retirement he was honored by Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia with a lifetime achievement award, and by the band fraternities, Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma, with honorary lifetime memberships. In 1999 he was inducted into Phi Beta Mu, the honorary school band fraternity, as an honorary lifetime member. In 1999 he was also given an honorary lifetime membership in the Texas Bandmasters Association, and was only the fifth person to be so named at that time.

In 1990 he was named a Distinguished Alumni by Hardin-Simmons University, and in 1993 HSU appointed him distinguished visiting lecturer.

As a retirement career, Shelburne has developed Global Educational Tours, guiding students on tours around the world. He is in China this week with a group of students, which is why he could not be here today.

The Shelburne’s two children have given them five grandchildren. Bryan and Sareta live in Macon, Georgia, near their daughter and will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next year.

It is the high honor of Hardin-Simmons University to recognize one of her own and to formally induct Lesley Bryan Shelburne Jr. into the HSU Hall of Leaders.