The Bob Jones University Symphonic Wind Band will present a special concert, “The Best of Times,” in honor of the long and impactful career of Dr. Dan Turner, BJU director of bands.
The concert will be held in Rodeheaver Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Feb. 9. It will feature four guest conductors and 65 alumni, creating a band of about 120 members.
Dr. Bruce Cox of BJU, Dr. Les Hicken of Furman University, Jay Gephart of Purdue University and Captain Joel Dubois, associate conductor of the U.S. Army Field Band, will be the four guest conductors for the concert.
This concert will also premiere a song by Dr. Jess Langston Turner, BJU alumnus and son of Dan Turner, titled “I Know Moonrise.”
This concert serves as a sort of send-off for Turner, who retires this year after over 45 years of service in various positions around Bob Jones University and Bob Jones Academy.
Dr. Turner grew up in Illinois and later Colorado and desired to be a band director from the time he was 12. Dr. Turner studied music at BJU where he met his future wife, Jamie. When Jamie graduated, Bob Jones Elementary School offered her a teaching position.
In the same year, while Turner was still a senior in college, School of Fine Arts dean Dr. Dwight Gustafson asked him to start a brass program at Bob Jones Academy. After graduating in 1972, Turner was hired as the official head of BJA’s band program.
Turner said, “I had no intentions of staying for my entire career in the same place, but that’s how the Lord led.” Dr. Turner continued to work at the academy until 1983.
After completing his doctoral studies, Dr. Turner returned to BJU as the director of bands for the University, his current position. In 1989 he became chairman of music education.
Besides conducting, Turner teaches a variety of lessons, undergraduate and graduate-level music education courses. Dr. Turner played with the Foundation Brass, a group of faculty brass players, for many years.
He was also principle tuba for a local symphony orchestra for 27 years. He conducted the band for a variety of events, including at the funeral of Dr. Bob Jones Jr., an American Red Cross rally during the First Gulf War and at the traveling Vietnam wall, both times it stopped in Greenville.
He has also led the band to play for esteemed guests, including former Vice President Dan Quayle and many more. The University Wind Band has been on 18 tours in Christian schools and churches across the U.S. in addition to the hundreds of concerts they have played at the University.
Dr. Turner also wrote a fully documented history of Bob Jones University in his book, Standing Without Apology, after completing a dissertation on the school’s history.
He has been active members of the South Carolina Band Directors’ Association and College Band Directors’ National Association. He was also elected as one of the 380 members of the American Band Master’s Association, an organization founded by John Philip Sousa.
Reflecting on his accomplishments, Turner said, “Those are things that God just does. We don’t seek reputation or fame; we just every day try and do our utmost in an excellent manner for the glory of God.”
Many members of the BJU music faculty studied under Turner, including current assistant director of bands Dr. Bruce Cox, all current members of the woodwind department and every member of the brass department except one.
Turner has seen these students come to be great teachers in their own right. “It’s just been a source of constant amazement to me at what God’s allowed,” Turner said.
Turner has always been very passionate about the value of his work and of music in general.
He highlighted the value of music to all college students. “Music does things to the heart that nothing else can do,” Turner said. “Music is second only to God’s Word in its power to motivate and teach and challenge.”
He said that all the music programs at BJU exist to inspire students to the highest level so that they can touch people for the Lord.
Turner said, “If I could challenge the entire student body, I would say, ‘Stay involved in music; God will use it in your life and in the lives of others in amazing ways.’”
The upcoming concert is a celebration of God’s grace and goodness. The program will include many favorite pieces of Turner from his years of teaching.