MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University on Thursday, April 16, named alumnus Brent Johnson, ’01, its new associate director of bands and director of athletic bands. Johnson will take the reins from the retiring John Fannin, who served in the same role for 25 years.
Johnson is currently in his first year as a doctoral teaching assistant with the band program at the University of Kentucky. He earned his Master of Music in music education degree from New Mexico State University. He previously served as director of bands at Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Washington, where the program saw national accolades during his five-year tenure. The band has competed in several national events, including a recent second place in the Pacific Northwest Championships held at the University of Oregon. The band’s wind ensemble has performed at the Pacific Northwest Concert Band Festival in Seattle, Washington, the Music For All National Concert Band Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana, and others.
Johnson has also served as director of fine arts for the Harlandale Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, and as a high school band director in Kentucky and Texas. His bands have competed in numerous state championships while earning high marks from state music education associations. The Kentucky chapter of the Phi Beta Mu National Bandmasters Honor Society named Johnson its 2008 Outstanding Young Band Director at its annual convention. Johnson is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, the Texas Music Administrators Conference, the Texas Bandmasters Association and the Kentucky Music Educators Association.
While a student at Murray State, Johnson played as a Racer Band tuba and three year drum major, where he learned under Fannin’s direction. After graduation, Johnson frequently returned to campus to guest teach in Fannin’s courses.
“I cannot put into words how excited I am to come home to Murray State and be part of continuing the tradition of excellence on the field, in the concert hall and in the classroom,” said Johnson. “I am so proud to carry on the amazing work of my mentor and friend John Fannin.”
Fannin, a staple of Racer Band for the past 25 years, is retiring this semester. Also serving as director of the University’s Symphonic Band, Concert Band and Pep Band while teaching music education, Fannin grew Racer Band from 85 to 300-plus members throughout his tenure. His bands have earned national acclaim, including performances at the 2006 and 2012 Bands of America Grand National Marching Band Championships.
Fannin’s honors include the 2017 Max Carman Outstanding Teacher Award, the 2010 Murray State University Distinguished Professor Award, the 2009 Kentucky Music Educators Association’s University Teacher of the Year Award, the 2006-2007 Outstanding Murray State University Music Teacher of the Year Award and the Phi Beta Mu 2007 Outstanding Contributor to Bands in Kentucky Award.
“I’ve been very grateful for the opportunities that Murray State has provided me and all the amazing students that have trusted me over the years,” said Fannin. “When I first knew I was going to retire, I made a small list in my mind of candidates that would be great for the job, and Brent was at the top of that list. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he and the band can provide to audiences and Racer Nation in 2020 and beyond.”