TIFFIN – As one of the foremost experts and top portrayer of the “March King” John Philip Sousa, Heidelberg University Director of Bands Rod Miller chose the appropriate figure for his personal research and performance inspiration.
Miller, the long-time band director at Port Clinton High School who retired last June, has conducted and performed Sousa tribute concerts and lectures around the country for 35 years. He assumed a striking appearance while dressed in an exact replica of the full Sousa band uniform, all the way down to dying his white beard and hair jet black.
On Saturday, April 29, Miller will bring his show to Tiffin when he conducts Heidelberg’s Symphonic Band in “Stars, Stripes and Sousa.”
The free 7 p.m. concert is at Trinity United Church of Christ, 131 W. Perry St., Tiffin.
The concert will be fast-paced and lively and will include a special tribute to veterans and currently military personnel, a common practice for Miller’s Sousa tribute concerts.
“It’s a huge thrill to be able to bring this concert to Heidelberg,” Miller said, “and to be able to honor veterans and especially our Vietnam veterans who are near and dear to my heart. And also, to let people, through the vehicle of music, forget about life for a while and bring them on a musical journey with us.”
While the “Stars, Stripes, and Sousa” concert will be a first for Heidelberg, it won’t be the first Sousa concert in Tiffin. It turns out that Sousa himself actually performed three concerts in Tiffin in the late 1890s and early 1900s, as the city was the hometown of one of the maestro’s bassoonists, William Decker. A performance at Decker’s memorial service and another local concert that night brings the total to five, according to Miller.
Heidelberg alumnus Brian Stitak ’89, orchestra conductor at Norwalk City Schools, will serve as the emcee for the concert. Additionally, there will be a video presentation in tribute to veterans as well as solos by Dr. Carol Dusdieker, director of the School of Music & Theatre, and Josh Heaney, adjunct instructor of clarinet and saxophone, on alto sax.
Stars, Stripes and Sousa will kick off with a Sousa Fanfare, followed by the Star-Spangled Banner and An American Fanfare overture. The Symphonic Band will then perform a march, The Liberty Bell, followed by saxophone solos by Heaney on The Carnival of Venice and Schindler’s List. The band’s saxophonists will be featured in a march to Root Beer Rag, followed by vocal solos by Dusdieker to Il Bacio and Someone to Watch Over Me.
The tribute to veterans and military personnel will include Hymn to the Fallen and the Marches of the Armed Forces. Two additional marches, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and Stars and Stripes Forever round out the Symphonic Band’s repertoire. A stirring finale, America the Beautiful, will conclude the performance.
For more information, call the School of Music & Theatre at 419-448-2073.