Dr. Anthony Pursell named director of bands at Northwestern State

Dr. Anthony Pursell has been named director of bands at Northwestern State University. His appointment has been approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.

Pursell will lead the nationally acclaimed 300-member Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band which has pleased audiences throughout the South and in international performances in London and Dublin, Ireland.

“Returning to Louisiana and leading the band program at Northwestern State fulfills a career goal of mine,” said Pursell, a native of New Orleans. “Twenty-six years ago, I began teaching high school band in the southeast part of the state and frequently brought my bands to NSU for the marching festival led by Bill Brent. I was so impressed with the quality of the event and the people that I would make certain the festival was on our calendar each year. To have an opportunity to return home, lead the program that inspired me as a young teacher and continue the great work NSU is known for is a tremendous honor.”

For the past five years, Pursell has been director of bands at the University of Central Missouri. For the past year, he served as coordinator of music education and coordinator of summer graduate studies.

“We are excited to have Dr. Pursell join us as our director of bands,” said Scott Burrell, director of the Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts at Northwestern State. “He is recognized as one of the best in the nation in his field and he is sure to take our band program to another level of excellence. He and the band team have already been meeting and organizing this upcoming year’s band performances which will promise to be favorites with both our NSU and Natchitoches communities.”

Pursell plans to grow the Spirit of Northwestern and produce a larger culture of students giving back as alumni.

“While our alumni have already proven to be a force for good for the university and this program. I would love to see them become a greater part of the current student experience and culture,” said Pursell. “This will foster a cyclical relationship where our current students can benefit from understanding our ideals from an alumni point of view, and also allows the opportunity for networks to form that may assist the student and the alumni in a professional setting.”

Pursell intends to expand the reach of the NSU Wind Symphony and other concert ensembles he will be involved with. That would include regional recruiting tours with the long-term goal of an international tour for the Spirit of Northwestern and concert ensembles.

“Getting the good word about music in Natchitoches, the State of Louisiana and the United States is important and the opportunity to be an ambassador for NSU will be an opportunity that will fulfill our students in very meaningful ways,” said Pursell.

As director of bands, Pursell intends to increase hands-on learning experiences for students.

“Throughout my career, I have found ways for our students to receive hands-on learning experiences that benefit them in preparation of their chosen field and benefit the reputation of the institution,” said Pursell. “I am hopeful to be able to collaborate with our local and regional schools through partnerships that will enrich young students in the arts and produce a greater attitude of servant leadership with my students.”

Pursell was director of bands at Tarleton State University from 2010-2017 after five years as assistant director of bands at Kansas State University and one year as interim assistant director of athletic band at Northern Illinois University. He was a director of bands at Destrehan High and Woodlawn High in Baton Rouge and assistant director of bands at Fontainebleau High School.

Pursell holds a D.A. in Instrumental Conducting and Music Education from Ball State University, and an M.M.E. and B.M.E. from Loyola University (New Orleans). Pursell has conducted concerts throughout the United States and the South Pacific (Auckland, New Zealand; Sydney, Australia). He serves as an adjudicator, conductor and clinician and is in demand as a halftime show writer, arranger, conductor and clinician for marching bands, concert bands and jazz bands throughout the United States. He served as the National Band Mentor for the National Association of Music Education’s Mentoring Project and has given clinics and sessions at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic and at several state and regional conferences including Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Louisiana and Texas on a wide variety of topics related to wind band education. He has contributed to GIA’s Teaching Music Through Performance in Band and has had articles published in The Instrumentalist, The Journal of Band Research, and The Southwest Musician (Texas). His book, “Improving Music Sight Reading: An Iconic-Based Approach to Teaching Rhythm, is published by VDM Verlag Dr. Müller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG (Saarbrücken, Germany).