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‘Festa Fraschillo’ to Honor Retired Southern Miss Music Professor, Band Leader

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Dr. Tom Fraschillo

Alumni, colleagues and friends of Dr. Tom Fraschillo are invited to The University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg campus April 27-28, 2012 to honor the recently retired School of Music professor, considered among the top music educators and band conductors in the world. 

“Festa Fraschillo” will begin Friday, April 27 with a banquet in the Touchdown Club at M.M. Roberts Stadium at 7 p.m., with check-in and mixer at 6 p.m., followed the next day by a rehearsal of the alumni band, a concert and after-party again at the Touchdown Club. Several commemorative efforts are also being planned, including a CD of his greatest musical moments with the wind ensemble.

Organizers of the event are motivated to honor Fraschillo for his long tenure at his alma mater, the thousands of students he has recruited to the university and his prominence in the field of music education and wind band areas around the world.

Dr. Steve Moser, interim dean of the College of Arts and Letters and a professor of music, says his colleague has undeniable “star status” in the band world.

“At any given time, one might find him in Hong Kong conducting a state sponsored youth wind orchestra; in Melbourne, Australia teaching band conductors the finer interpretations of the great works for band, or in Europe conducting a municipal band or conservatory wind orchestra,” Moser said. “Ironically, one might also find him rehearsing young musicians in a local band hall in South Mississippi.  

“Despite his international profile, he has chosen to stay at his alma mater for almost three decades, and his contributions to the School of Music are immeasurable.” 

Fraschillo first came to Southern Miss as a freshman in the fall of 1964 after his band director at Clarksdale High School, Southern Miss alumnus Kent Sills, recognized his potential and encouraged him to consider studying at his alma mater.

“Southern Miss was a great fit for me,” Fraschillo said. “It has long had a wonderful School of Music, due mostly to the early leadership of Raymond Mannoni for whom our Performing Arts Center is named. Today, we have as many music majors as schools two and three times our size, and as many graduate students as some of the great schools of music in America.”

 After graduating from Southern Miss with bachelor and master’s degrees, he became director of instructional music and bands at Meridian High School. During his tenure there, Meridian secured an invitation to the prestigious Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, the oldest and most prestigious of its kind in the world. 

Following his stint at Meridian High, Fraschillo returned to Southern Miss after securing a doctorate in musical arts from the University of South Carolina. At Southern Miss his primary duty has been leader of the band department and conductor of the university’s concert band, the Wind Ensemble. He has also taught piano, percussion and 20th Century Music.  

Among his many honors include election to membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association (ABA) and later as its president, the only Mississippian to ever hold that post. His scholarly work earned him the position of contributing editor for the Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians, American Edition, published by Oxford University Press.

Fraschillo has also served as president of the National Band Association, the largest organization for band directors in America, and has been the recipient of numerous honors and appointments in Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

“My work internationally, I would like to think, has brought much recognition to Southern Miss in places where the university would have never been known,” said Fraschillo. He plans to stay active in music, and is scheduled to participate in concert events in the U.S., Europe and Asia in 2012 and 2013.

But he counts with more pride than any personal honor his many former students who dot the directory of high school and college band directors and music educators across the country and around the globe. “The most important legacy I can leave is the success of my students,” he said.

Brad Snow, director of bands at the University of Missouri and one of Fraschillo’s former students, readily testifies that his mentor is indeed student-oriented and a humble, devoted family man who eschews self-promotion.

“I attribute any success I’ve been able to enjoy since graduating from Southern Miss directly to Tom Fraschillo and view my time with him as a precious, lifelong gift,” Snow said.  “He’s achieved many personal accolades in his career, but never at the expense of his wife, son or students. Observing his ability to balance his personal life and professional life is an experience I know will stick with me forever.”

Beginning in January, registration for the weekend of events honoring Fraschillo will be available online at the Southern Miss School of Music’s website (www.usm.edu/music).  A limited number of spaces will be available. For more information, contact Dr. Mike Lopinto at 601.266.5620.