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School of Music

Faculty and Staff

James K. Copenhaver

Emeritus Director / Bands
School of Music


James K. Copenhaver obituary
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James K. Copenhaver

Emeritus Director of Bands, James K. Copenhaver assumed the position of Director of Bands at the University of South Carolina in 1976 and was a Professor of Music on the USC School of Music faculty. Mr. Copenhaver earned BA and MMEd degrees at Morehead State University and completed two additional years of graduate study at Florida State University. Prior to his appointment at the University of South Carolina, he taught at Holmes High School in Covington (KY), Morehead State University and Clemson University. At USC, Mr. Copenhaver was responsible for administering the total band program. He conducted the University Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band and taught undergraduate and graduate classes in wind instrument techniques. Under his guidance, the University of South Carolina band program established a national reputation for excellence. The Symphonic Band has performed at conferences for the South Carolina Music Educators Association, Music Educators National Conference, College Band Directors National Association, and American Bandmasters Association.

Mr. Copenhaver was highly active as a clinician, having served as a guest conductor, lecturer and adjudicator throughout the United States. Leading educational institutions have recognized him for his accomplishments in the areas of instrumental performance and music education. In recognition for his talents and service, he received the Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association, the Distinguished Service to Music Medal for Instrumental Music Education from Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity, and both the Outstanding Bandmaster Award and Outstanding Contributor to Bands Award from the South Carolina Chapter of Phi Beta Mu National Bandmaster Fraternity. In 2003, Mr. Copenhaver was inducted into the South Carolina Band Director’s “Hall of Fame.” Mr. Copenhaver was an active member in several professional organizations within the band field, including the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. He is a Past-President of both the National Band Association and the Southern Division of the College Band Director National Association. Mr. Copenhaver was the founder and co-conductor of the Palmetto Concert Band, an adult semiprofessional concert band that presented the Grand Finale Concert at the 1999 Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic.

Mr. Copenhaver retired in the summer of 2010 but continued to be a presence at the University.