Bobby R. Francis Named President-Elect of the Prestigious American Bandmasters Association


Bobby Francis conducting the Wind Symphony Orchestra in the Van Cliburn Concert Hall at TCU.

Bobby Francis conducting the Wind Symphony Orchestra in the Van Cliburn Concert Hall at TCU.

Director of Bands Bobby R. Francis has been elected as President-Elect and will ultimately become the 86th president of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association (ABA). The organization was founded in 1929 to recognize outstanding achievement and excellence of concert band conductors and composers around the United States and Canada. He currently serves as “president-elect” and will assume the role of president in March 2024.

“I have been a member for 20 years. I was surprised, humbled and truly honored to just be elected as a member of the ABA 20 years ago. Now, to be nominated as president-elect is overwhelming,” said Francis.

The first annual convention was held on March 13, 1930, with Philip Sousa, renowned conductor of “The President’s Own” UnitedStates Marine Band, as one of its founding members. The association now features leading composers, teachers and band conductors, including Bruce Broughton, a 10-time Emmy-winning composer who wrote the scores for notable television series such as “Hawaii Five-0” and “The Orville” by Seth MacFarlane as well as many other well-known composers and conductors.

Francis proudly holds a photo from the inaugural convention held on March 13, 1930.

Francis proudly holds a photo of the inaugural convention held on March 13, 1930.

Being selected as a member of this elite association requires a vigorous year-long nomination process. The membership committee holds a caucus with each region submitting nominees, followed by a vote to determine which candidates will move forward. Candidates must have many years of successful teaching and conducting experience, with typically seven to nine people considered for membership each year from across the U.S. and Canada.

After the initial nomination, the invited candidates will submit an extensive portfolio, including contributions to the music education field, publications and a collection of performances covering at least two years.

“The submitted material must show a candidate’s consistent track record of musical, teaching and conducting excellence,” said Francis.

The membership committee and general members will then meet at the following year’s ABA convention to vote on new members. “Out of the nominated candidates each year, not all are ultimately accepted into the organization at that time,” he said. “They can be “deferred,” which means they can be nominated again in the future. Becoming a member of the association could take several years if you get in at all.”

Francis is excited to preside over the 90th ABA convention and continue the association’s many educational initiatives that benefit all music educators, including a recent project called the “IDEA project,” where composers from underrepresented communities are commissioned to write band music that will be available to bands all over the world. At this year’s convention, members selected Kevin Day ’19 as the first composer for the project. He will collaborate with a premier service band in Washington D.C. and debut the piece at the ABA convention next year.

“I am humbled and honored to serve the association that has become a family of music professionals,” says Francis.