POTSDAM, N.Y. — The Crane School of Music has announced the appointment of Cambridge native Dr. William L. Lake Jr. as an assistant professor of music education and associate director of bands.

Lake will serve as conductor for two of the four bands at the college, a teacher in the instrumental conducting sequence and supervisor of undergraduate music education students in their pre-service teaching instrumental education experience.

Lake is the first African-American conductor in the rich 93-year history of the Crane Bands. “I’m excited and humbled to represent the hard work of my parents, heritage and mentors while serving as a professor the Crane School of Music,” Lake said.

“The traditional classical music profession has not always been accepting or accessible to people of color and women. This is finally changing,” Lake said.

“I hope that my journey and career will inspire young musicians to take up the craft and forge their own way into the field,” Lake said. “I had very few role models that looked like me. Here’s to changing that image for someone else.”

He joins the Crane School from Southeastern University, where he was the director of bands and symphony orchestra.

Lake received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in instrumental conducting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro under the mentorship of Dr. John R. Locke and Dr. Kevin Geraldi in May 2018. He earned two master’s degrees, the first from Boston University in music education (2011), and the second from the University of Maryland, College Park, in wind conducting (2014) under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Votta Jr.

In May 2006, Lake received a bachelor’s degree in music liberal arts, jazz studies piano performance from the University of Maryland, College Park, as a student of Jon Ozment and Christopher Vadala.

Prior to college teaching, he was director of bands at Gwynn Park High School in Prince George’s County.

Lake is a member of the College Band Directors National Association, Kappa Kappa Psi, National Honorary Band Fraternity Inc., an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma, National Honorary Band Sorority Inc., Phi Mu Alpha, Sinfonia and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

Unlike many colleges and universities in the United States, the Crane Bands did not emerge from the military music or athletic band traditions. In 1926, Potsdam native James Garfield and 1905 alumnus of the Potsdam Normal School, formed the Normal Band with the express purpose of fostering the inclusion of instrumental music into schools at all levels.

Lake adds his name to a long list of notable instrumental conductors at the Crane School of Music, including Donald Hunsberger (director of the Eastman School of Music 1959-1961), Elliott A. Del Borgo (director of bands of the Crane Wind Ensemble 1966-1995), Anthony Maiello (current professor of Conducting at George Mason University) and Brian Doyle (current director of bands at the Crane School of Music).

The Crane School of Music was founded in 1886 by Julia Etta Crane as the Crane Institute of Music and is one of the first institutions in the country to specialize in preparing future music educators. The Crane School of Music is at the State University of New York, Potsdam Campus, and is made up of about 630 undergraduate students and 30 graduate students, almost 15% of the total campus population.

Unlike many colleges and universities in the United States, the Crane Bands did not emerge from the military music or athletic band traditions. In 1926, Potsdam native James Garfield, a 1905 alumnus of the Potsdam Normal School, formed the Normal Band with the express purpose of fostering the inclusion of instrumental music into schools — at all levels.

Bringing life experiences as a performer in and leader of the historic Potsdam Military Band, as a vaudevillian musician, and as school teacher and administrator, Garfield embarked upon Julia Crane’s mission of training students to be the finest musicians and teachers possible.

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