When the University of Southern Mississippi Wind Ensemble takes to the stage to open its season Thursday, Nov. 3 professor of music and director of bands Dr. Thomas V. Fraschillo will lead the group in some of his favorite works from a career that has inspired a generation of music educators around the globe. It is a poignant reminder that this musical force retires after 25 years of service this spring.
The wind ensemble opening performance will be at 7:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium on the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus. The concert is free and open to the public.
The Wind Ensemble and Fraschillo are considered iconic by many in the band world. Performances are exhilarating and inspirational, covering the gamut of wind band repertoire from marches to contemporary works. The Nov. 3 program features assistant professor of horn, Heidi Lucas; Jonathan Helmick, a doctoral candidate in conducting; and a work by retired composer-in-residence Luigi Zaninelli.
“I chose the program based on my favorite works through the years as a teacher and band director,” Fraschillo said. “The Theme and Variations by Arnold Schoenberg has always been one of my favorite works, and my friendship and admiration for Luigi Zaninelli always encourages me to do one of his new works.”
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.
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 earning 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.
Beginning in January, registration for the weekend of events April 27-28 as part of “Festa Fraschillo” 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.