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World Renowned Composer And Director Works With Music Students

May 26, 2011
By Dave Schneider of Mt Pleasant High School



Music composer and director Stephen Melillo was in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa on May 14 to work with the high school music department in preparation for a major music production that evening.

Melillo wrote KAKEHASHI: THAT WE MIGHT LIVE, a musical documentary about the Bataan Death March in the Pacific in World War II, and the Mt. Pleasant Music Boosters brought him to Mt. Pleasant for this special event.

The concert, which featured a multi-media presentation,  involved both the high school band and chorus plus several adult members of the community.

A large crowd filled the high school gymnasium to not only experience the concert, but to also view World War II memorabilia that was on display.

The concert was free, but a free-will offering was accepted to go toward the World War II Honor Tour that will help local WWII Vets go to their Memorial in Washington DC. The amount collected was $3000.

Mt. Pleasant High School instrumental director is Jim DePriest and Philip Schroetter is the vocal director.

Following is information about Stephen Melillo taken from his web site.


Music by Stephen Melillo has been played and recorded by some of the World's finest ensembles and conductors. More than 1010 works span from the IBM Thinkpad® Demo to the Concerto for Violin & Orchestra. Currently 137 commissions for Wind & Percussion Ensembles of the 3rd MillenniumTM comprise the body of recorded work called STORMWORKS.

Since 1995, ASCAP continues each year to recognize Stephen's work with Special Awards in Concert Music. In 2005, his Documentary in Music, KAKEHASHI: THAT WE MIGHT LIVE was nominated for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in Music. Marking 60 years since the end of WWII, this 70-minute work involved an unprecedented gesture in Music-making and made International History. Inspired by and dedicated to the Survivors of the Bataan Death March, Kakehashi was recorded by an ensemble of 2 American Choruses and 143 world-class Japanese Military Musicians specially appointed for this historic occasion by the Japanese Ministry of Defense. In 2006, The World Historic recording, STORMWORKS Chapter 5:8, Writings on the Wall, was nominated in 4 categories in the 1st round of the 49th Grammy Awards. In 2008, the "visually scored," DVD version of THAT WE MIGHT LIVE was nominated in the 50th Grammy Awards in the Long Form Documentary caption, and won 2 Telly Film Awards for History/Biography and Music Concert.


In 1992, Stephen's innovation in self-publishing and digital music dissemination, known as STORMWORKS, established a modern precedent in international Music publishing. STORMWORKS is now represented online and via store dealerships in the United States and throughout 28 European and Asian countries.


You will find Stephen's scoring work in 14 feature films 28 network television programs and in the 1991 Academy Award-nominated movie 12:01PM starring Kurtwood Smith. In the early 1990's Stephen composed game music for Nintendo, Sega-Genesis and others through his affiliation with Absolute Entertainment. His work in this field, presented at the 1993 NAMM convention positioned him as a pioneer for a complete new generation of "film-scoring" approaches to game-music.

During the scoring of 12:01PM, Stephen authored and implemented Music To Picture, a hands-on curriculum establishing, in 1991, the film-scoring program at the State University of New York at Purchase.

The 1992 premiere of Stephen Melillo's S-MATRIX Symphony # Numberless, conducted by Maestro Gerhardt Zimmerman with the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, received the first standing ovation in the 40-year History of the Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh. During intermission, a delighted Maestro Zimmerman commissioned Stephen's; Symphony 2: At Life's Edge, which premiered in 1996. 


As creator of MIDIMAST, (MIDI-Music, Mathematics & Science) sponsored by the Ford and Carnegie Foundations and the New York Academy of Science, Mr. Melillo trained 275 New York City Mathematics & Science teachers in the early 1980s while demonstrating a quantifiably improved understanding of mathematics and science via musical composition. Case studies included numerous classes with K-6 students from Harlem, Spanish Harlem, Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens.

His scoring techniques, orchestration, recording practices and implementation of new sonic forces in the modern Wind Ensemble have been the subject of several Doctoral dissertations in America, Europe and the Orient. Many of the World's finest ensembles and conductors continue to employ his innovative strategies and instrumentation.

Many of Stephen's students now enjoy musical careers as professionals in an eclectic range, employed as teachers, recording artists, television and studio musicians and members of major symphony orchestras.

With 17 years in the public schools, more than 30 years as an international guest conductor, and more than 40 years as a practitioner of the Chinese martial art, Stephen's ability to communicate musically comes from an extensive knowledge base. From beginning instrumental students to Musicians employed by the Rotterdam and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, Stephen has worked with a vast array of multinational students aged 4-87. Such diverse experience includes teaching Braille-reading music students at Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts to teaching close-quarter defense techniques to an 11-man detachment of Green Berets stationed in Mansfield, Connecticut during the late 1970s.

Stephen studied conducting with Jens Nygaard and Atilio Poto, a student of Arturo Toscanini. Varied educators, conductors and commissioning parties have termed Stephen Melillo's work "a new voice in the direction of music."

In addition to film work with New York and Los Angeles based studio orchestras, 114 live concert premieres include:

Last World Standing: HEROES of PEACE, rendered by the Sinfonischen Blasorcehesters Ried in the Brucknerhaus, Linz, Austria. Karl Geroldinger & Stephen Melillo conducting.

STORMWORKS Chapter 1: Without Warning, rendered by combined Musicians from the US Army, Navy and Air Force, Stephen Melillo conducting.
STORMWORKS Chapter 2: WENDE, rendered by The Rundfunk Blasorchester Leipzig in Leipzig's Gewandhaus, Stephen Melillo conducting.

STORMWORKS Chapter 3: WAIT of the WORLD, rendered by The Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Maurice Hamers conducting.

STORMWORKS Chapters 5 & 8: WRITINGS on the WALL, rendered by 143 Musicians of the Japanese Military and The Central Band of Japan Self Defense Force with choruses from Shenandoah & Old Dominion Universities in Tokyo, Japan, Stephen Melillo conducting.

STORMWORKS Chapter 0: WALK on the WATER, rendered by The Dutch Royal Military Band in Rotterdam, Stephen Melillo conducting.

MUSASHI, rendered by The Patriot Symphonic Band, Harry Pfingsten conducting and by The Ried Blasorchester in Shladming, Austria, Karl Geroldinger conducting.

MUSASHI & WAIT of the WORLD rendered by The Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra in Tokyo, Japan, David Bostock conducting.

The Concerto for Violin, rendered by The Sudwind Orchester from Germany, Stephen Melillo conducting.

S-MATRIX & Symphony 2: At Life's Edge, rendered by The North Carolina and Canton Symphony Orchestras, Gerhardt Zimmerman conducting.


And coming soon: STORMWORKS Chapter 21: WON WAY, with The SBO-RIED Blasorchester, Karl Geroldinger conducting.

Stephen's 1976 composition, After the Storm, was played to a television audience of over 2 million as the concluding work in Singapore's 2005 salute to "Building a New Future."

In addition to numerous guest conducting assignments around the world, Stephen has also made Music with the following US All-State Bands: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Dakota (2x), New Mexico (2x), and New York in 2006.

Stephen attended the University of Connecticut at Storrs in 1976, the Manhattan School of Music in NYC in 1979, and holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Massachusetts in 1980 and a Masters in Music and Conducting from Columbia University, New York in 1982.

More information about the fine music programs in the Mt. Pleasant School District can been found at www.mpmusic.org



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