The Pride of Herndon would not be what it is today without the dedication and commitment of its illustrious band directors. This page highlights those who have helped shape the Herndon Band Program over the years.
Valdemar Johnson, 1947 – 1958
Fritz Velke, 1958 – 1964 ... He won the 1962 Ostwald Award for "Concertino for Band" WHILE he was the HHS band director!!!
James Swiney, 1964 - 1968
Larry Willis, 1968 – 1971
George Duman, 1971 – 1978
Richard Bergman, 1978 - 2008
Richard Bergman, Director of Bands at Herndon High School, 1978-2008
Mr. Richard Bergman, a native of New York City, New York, is a graduate of the University of Maryland where he received his Bachelor of Music Education Degree in 1967 and his Master of Education Degree in 1975. He began his teaching career in Prince George’s County, Maryland where he taught both junior and senior high school. From 1971-1977 he directed the Crossland High School Symphonic Band which he developed into one of the finest ensembles in the Mid-Atlantic States. Mr. Bergman began his career at Herndon High School in 1978, and retired after 30 years in 2008. Under his direction the band program at Herndon received national recognition for its excellence of performance in clinics, concerts, festivals and competitions.
Among its many appearances, the band has performed at the Mid-East Music Convention, Pittsburgh, Pa. in 1985; twice at the prestigious Mid-west International Band and Orchestra Convention Chicago, IL in 1987 and 1995; the Music Educator’s National Conference 53rd National In-Service Convention, New Orleans, LA in 1992 and in Tennesse in 2003; tne American Band Masters Convention in Baltimore, MD in 2004 (where the band received a three minute standing ovation); and four times at the Virginia Music Educators Convention. Under Mr. Bergman’s direction, the HHS band has received over thirty first place and grand champion awards at every competition it has participated in since 1982. Mr. John Paynter, chairman of the music department at Northwestern University, has described the Herndon bands as being among the finest and most musical ensembles in the United States. In 1991 the Herndon Wind Ensemble was named by the John Philip Sousa Foundation as that year’s only recipient of the Sudler Flag of Honor. This is the highest national honor any concert band program can receive.
Mr. Bergman is a member of Phi Mu Alpha, The Virginia Band and Orchestra Director’s Association, Music Educator’s National Conference, National Band Association, Percussive Arts Society, National Association of Jazz Educator’s and the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers. He was president of the Maryland Band Directors Association and was also editor of their solo and ensemble and concert list manual. In 1995 Mr. Bergman was elected into the American Bandmasters Association.
On numerous occasions the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County, Virginia and the Board of Education in Prince George’s County, Maryland have cited Mr. Bergman for his outstanding contributions to music education. Included in these honors are ten “Commendations of Excellence” from the Fairfax County Board of Education. In addition, his bands have been recognized for their excellence by the legislatures of Virginia and Maryland. He has also received nine Commendations of Excellence from the National Band Directors Association, and in 1994 was listed in the Who’s Who of American Educators. In 2008 Mr. Bergman was named teacher of the year by the Herndon-Reston Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Bergman has served as an active adjudicator, clinician, consultant, and guest conductor in many of the Mid-Atlantic, Southern and Northeastern states. Presently Mr. Bergman is the conductor of the King’s Park Adult Community Band in Burke, VA.
Chuck Hawkins, Assistant Director of Bands at Herndon High School, 1988-2008
Since 1988, Mr. Hawkins has been the Assistant Director at Herndon High School and was responsible for production design, program coordination and all on-field aspects of The Pride of Herndon Marching Band. Chuck (who refuses to be called “sir”) brings a broad experience working with youth, and credits band activities with “making me what I am today.” A veteran of nearly four years with the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps of Washington, D.C. and five years on the band staff of Falls Church High School, Chuck has also served on the staff of the Magic of Orlando Drum and Bugle Corps. In his spare time, Chuck is a Battalion Chief in the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department.
George Eugene Duman, Jr. (1936-2013)
Gene Duman was Herndon High School’s fifth band director, serving from 1971 to 1978. He was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, but grew up in Baltimore, where his outstanding tuba playing won him a full four-year scholarship to The Peabody Conservatory of Music. Upon graduating, he came to Fairfax County and in 1962, opened Edison High School, where his bands were consistently awarded “Superior” ratings at District Festival. Moving to Herndon in 1971, he replicated his success at Edison, starting a host of HHS Band Traditions in the process. 1971 saw the first-ever Tag Day Concert. In 1972, he founded the Wind Ensemble as the school’s premiere concert band, and designated the Symphonic Band as the program’s core marching unit, giving the latter group a mission all its own and a newfound pride to go with it. He conducted the first HHS musical with a full pit orchestra – “The Music Man” – in 1974, and made Jazz Band and Music Theory classes for credit. And in 1972, he had the marching band play “You’ve Said It All” which, to the surprise of pretty much everyone – including Mr. Duman – promptly became The Unofficial HHS Fight Song. He departed Herndon in style in 1978, with the Wind Ensemble winning a major, three-day-long national band competition in Florida. In the words of a former student, “With Mr. Duman, band was always exciting, educational, challenging, musically rewarding – and more fun than anyone should be allowed to have in a school building.” Gene Duman’s seven years at HHS had – and continue to have – a tremendously positive impact both on the those he taught, and on the structure and success of the Herndon band program. It is that life and musical legacy which we celebrate at the HHS Band 2013 Winter Concert.
Mitchell Samuel Bender (1934-2013) - Band Director at Herndon Intermediate School from 1966 to 1984
Mitch Bender was the band director at Herndon Intermediate School from 1966 to 1984. Born and raised in Aurora, Illinois, he took up trumpet at an early age and attended Chicago’s VanderCook College of Music, from which he earned a B.A. in Music Education in 1958. Mr. Bender began his teaching career in his native Illinois, moving to Fairfax County and Herndon Intermediate in 1966, where his bands routinely earned “Excellent” or “Superior” ratings. Mr. Bender’s fine work at Herndon Intermediate ensured that a steady stream of outstanding freshman musicians was funneled into the HHS band program for almost 20 years, directly contributing to the latter program’s golden reputation and success. Mr. Bender’s musical achievements were to continue in a similar vein when he became the founding band director at Reston’s Langston Hughes Middle School in 1984. After retiring in 1994, Mr. Bender remained an active presence in the local school band community, often serving as an announcer at VBODA District Festivals. In retirement, he also founded MSB Publishing, Inc., which boasted over 200 titles in its catalogue by highly-regarded composers such as Elliot Del Borgo, Joseph Compiello, and Dr. Robert Cameron. A gifted composer and arranger in his own right, Mr. Bender wrote fluently and well for band, orchestra, chorus, solo voice, and virtually every instrument imaginable. But most especially, Mitch Bender drew on his decades of classroom experience to craft dozens of attractive, high-quality selections that could be played and enjoyed by the sort of aspiring young musicians that he taught, knew, and loved so well.
Update on Fritz Velke, James Marvin Swiney and Larry Willis - On June 7th, 2019 we received this interesting and informative email from Alumni Luther H. Nossett (Class of '69) where he talks us about three of the band directors listed above !!! Here goes -
I was in the HHS band from 1963 to 1969 and knew the all three of the directors for which your site requested information. We are celebrating our 50th Anniversary of graduation this weekend and coupled with the band's trip to Normandy, one of our class members was viewing your site and found the request for more information on these men. I will share what I know personally, and refer you to other resources I have found.
Fritz Velke was the band director at Herndon in 1963, our year in 7th grade. You may not be able to imagine how small Herndon was at that time, but the intermediate school was co-located with the high school at that time on Locust Street. Two or three weeks into the school year during middle school band class, Mr. Velke instructed about 6 of us to go into the uniform room and try to find a uniform that fit (or almost). We thought it was really cool that he allowed us to try on the high school uniforms, never expecting what happened next. As we assembled for his inspection, he said " ok, be here at 6:00 pm, you are now in the high school band and are going to Winchester tonight for the football game". We were all shocked, but our addition to the band brought the total members up to about 45. Mr. Velke left Herndon in June of 1964 but remained in the Fairfax County school system. I don't remember where he went, but in 1966 or 67, I was in the all-regional band and Mr. Velke appeared as a guest conductor to direct one of his compositions, "Plaything for a Bunch of All Stars". That is the last I ever saw Mr. Velke, but I did learn he had passed a number of years ago. See https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_Velke and https://www.lib.umd.edu/ostwald/winners/1956-1970/fritz-velke. The picture in the second article is exactly as I remember him. I have attached a picture from the 1964 Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, where we wore the old style uniforms.
In the fall of 1964 James Marvin Swiney assumed leadership of the Herndon Hornet band. Mr. Swiney had recently been as assistant director at Florida State University and provided more direction in marching band, producing more complex halftime shows than previously performed. Mr, Swiney was a very religious man and cared about the student's character development as well as musical development. Many class periods were spent in lectures on values and morals and not on musical issues. In 1966 and 1967 Mr. Swiney took the Stage Band to Grundy, Virginia to play a benefit concert for the Mountain Mission School,an orphanage serving the Appalachian regions of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia. Those trips were very enlightening for us to see the poverty of the area, to increase our gratitude for what we had and increase our awareness and appreciation for those less fortunate than we.
In 1967 we participated in the Southeastern Band Festival in Bristol, Virginia, a big trip for us a we spent two nights in a hotel. The festival included a parade and a halftime show. There were about 75 bands in the event and we got a good rating, although I don't remember the specifics. I do remember watching 74 other halftime shows, it was a very long day!
In early 1968, the band collectively decided that we wanted to win the National Cherry Blossom Festival and we practiced for 3 months or more for that goal. There were three parts of the competition, a symphonic portion, a halftime show and the feature parade on Saturday. We played the symphonic portion on Thursday, April 4, 1968 and had our picture taken on the Ellipse, in front of the White House. Unbeknownst to us at the same time we were competing, Martin Luther King was being assassinated in Memphis. Riots followed and the remainder of the festival was cancelled. We were told that although we appeared to be the best band in the competition, they awarded the trophy to the band that travelled the greatest distance, only to have their time in D.C. cut short. I have attached a copy of that picture with Mr. Swiney at the right. I have previously sent this copy to the school.
In June of 1968 Mr. Swiney resigned from HHS to take a senior position at the Mountain Mission School in Grundy, eventually becoming President of the school. His wife's grandfather had started the school and the Swineys felt called to serve God by helping others through that organization. He is now retired and at 84 is living in Abington, Virginia.
I was in the band under Mr. Willis for one year, but I do not know any information about him or where he went after he left Herndon. I do believe he had worked at the University of Alabama for sometime before his tenure at HHS.
Victor Bernhards who was a band director in the Fairfax County School system was our classmate and he may have more information on Mr. Willis.
Please let me know if I can help you in any manner and thank you for your support of the D Day observance.
Luther H. Nossett
Class of 1969