Alumna Sue Samuels named Furman bands director

Sue Samuels, a 1987 Furman University graduate, has been named director of bands for the Furman Department of Music.

Samuels, who fills the post of retiring music faculty member Leslie W. Hicken, will assume the role in fall semester 2019.

Samuels is director of visual and performing arts at Randolph School in Huntsville, Ala. Prior to Randolph School, she served 14 years as director of bands at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she led the Marching Blazers, the Wind Symphony, the Symphony Band, and the Blazer Band, as well as taught courses in conducting and music education.

Samuels’ teaching experience includes 12 years at Lassiter High School in Marietta Ga., one year as assistant director of bands at the University of Georgia, and two years as director of bands at WT Woodson High School in Fairfax, Va.

Under her direction, the high school bands received straight superior ratings at festivals throughout her 14-year career as band director and have garnered recognition on the national stage.

Growing up in a military family, Samuels lived in five states as a youngster before her family settled in Columbia. Later, Samuels attended Furman and earned a bachelor’s in music education.

Samuels also studied at Georgia State University in Atlanta, where she received a master’s in instrumental conducting. She also studied at the Eastman School of Music, and at Auburn University where she earned a Ph.D. in music education in 2009.

Current Director of Bands Leslie W. Hicken joined the Furman music faculty 26 years ago. He will pass his academic baton to Samuels when he retires this spring. Just weeks after leading the Symphonic Winds in a performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall, Hicken will conduct his last concert with the ensemble Friday, April 12, at 8 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium on campus.

Known for his contributions to the community, Hicken will again lead the 2019 Furman Summer Concert Series, Music by the Lake, a Greenville tradition for more than 50 years, and continue as artistic director and conductor of the Carolina Youth Symphony, which will also perform at Carnegie Hall in late April.