Col. Thomas Rotondi Jr.

Retired Col. Thomas Rotondi Jr. will be the guest conductor for the Veteran's Day Salute at Millikin University's Kirkland Fine Arts Center.

Submitted photo

DECATUR — Millikin University’s Veterans Day Salute will feature a conductor with two special connections to the concert.

Col. Thomas Rotondi Jr. is the former leader and commander of the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” In 2011, he retired from the Army after a 34-year military career.

Rotondi is also a 1974 Millikin graduate and received the Millikin Alumni Merit Award in 2007. He has returned to his alma mater only a few times.

“And I’m excited to come back to campus,” he said.

Rotondi will be the guest conductor for the free Veterans Day show at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, at Millikin University’s Kirkland Fine Arts Center.

Rotondi lives in Kingsport, Tenn., and continues to be involved in music. He is on the Association of Concert Bands board of directors and believes musicians should continue performing and sharing their music.

“Whether they are 15 or 85, it is important to keep playing,” he said.

Millikin Director of Bands Gary Shaw invited Rotondi to conduct the Millikin Symphonic Wind Ensemble for the Veterans Day Salute.

“He is one of our most notable alums,” Shaw said. “He conducted the top band in the United State Army.”

The concert is a tribute to veterans with music from John Philip Sousa marches and popular pieces for wind ensembles and brass bands.

“No matter what kind of veteran,” Rotondi said, “we will be playing for them.”

Music will include “American Salute” by American composer Morton Gould, the “Armed Forces Medley” in which veterans will be asked to stand during the playing of their branch’s song.

“And of course it wouldn’t be right without 'Stars and Stripes Forever,'” Rotondi said.

The concert will also feature soloists including Millikin student and trumpet performance major Trevor Stout.

Vocalist Ann Borders, an adjunct instructor at Millikin, will sing Irving Berlin's “God Bless America.” It will be a tribute and re-creation of Kate Smith’s radio performance on the first Armistice Day in 1938.

The public is also invited to a discussion with Rotondi before the concert at 6:30 p.m. in Room 128 in Kirkland Fine Arts Center.

“People can talk to him about music and his career,” Shaw said.

Other features include patriotic writings and visual art pieces from Dennis School students. After the show, the public is invited to a complimentary dessert reception in the lobby.

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“Together Decatur” columnist, food and entertainment reporter for the Herald & Review.

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