A Personal Tribute to ACB Past President Allen Beck From His Friend and Fellow Past President, Gerald Guilbeaux.
Allen E. Beck
United States Navy Band
Past President, The Association of Concert Bands
I met Commander Allen Beck at the 1998 Naperville Convention where he was engaged as the conductor of the convention band that year. As I watched him rehearse the band I sensed that he was an experienced conductor and leader, who knew how to deal with adult musicians and who knew exactly what he wanted as a conductor. During the convention , we later came to know more about each other over several glasses of Macallan Single Malt Scotch Whiskey (his favorite was the 24-year-old). And over the years we would enjoy many more glasses of that exquisite elixir. We struck up a friendship that would last until his untimely passing on September 22, 2016.
Commander Allen Beck served three "hitches" with the U.S. Navy Band in Washington DC., the first as a clarinetist in late 1950’s and in the early 1970's as Assistant Leader and then in the mid 1980's as Officer In Charge/Leader. ACB President-Elect, Jerry Brubaker was privileged to serve under Commander Beck as a horn player in the 70's and as Chief Arranger in the 80's and respectfully remembers him as "an outstanding musician and conductor! He's the finest Leader I ever served under and am proud to have continued to be his friend!”
I invited Allen to guest conduct our Lafayette Concert Band shortly after we met and he graciously accepted the invitation. At the first rehearsal he began perspiring profusely and later admitted that he was battling a flu bug, but like the consummate professional that he was, he trudged on and he and I were the only ones who knew he was not feeling well. The concert was a smashing success and he endeared himself to the audience and members of the LCB.
Were it not for Allen the ACB Posy Project would have never happened. In June of 2004 I was privileged to be sitting across the dinner table from Frederick Fennell and his wife at an NBA function in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois. During the evening I mentioned to him that I had recently visited Commander Beck at his home in Florida and that he had shared some video tapes of Fennell rehearsing the Navy Band on Lincolnshire Posy prior to their appearance at the Midwest Clinic. I told Dr. Fennell how those tapes had helped me prepare “The Posy” as he affectionately called it. That conversation and the fact that Allen shared those videos with me was the impetus to put together the project for the benefit of ACB.
Allen was a newcomer to ACB, but fit our association like a glove. He was soon elected a member of the board of directors and shortly thereafter was elected President-elect during my term as President of ACB. Allen was instrumental is developing the ACB Commissioning Project and was also directly involved with the ACB Clinics at the Midwest and chaired the Long Range Planning Committee that gave the Association direction for many years after.
Allen Beck was a wonderful conductor with great musicality and a fantastic leader and I am thankful that he became involved with ACB and truly grateful for his friendship.
My horn, you are filled with sound:
The crooning call,
The waking blast,
That one high, clear prayer of a note.
I blow; your pipes are roads for the air-
We make music together.
A lingering note touches the wind.
The light is caught in your gleaming brass
As I lay you down,
Warm from a song well-played.
from “My Horn and I” by Bonnie Shipman
Allen, you had a LIFE well played, my friend, a life well played.
Rest in Peace