Mr. Rick Parrell, associate conductor of the City of Fairfax Band Association, is a longtime member of the City of Fairfax Band. He played for many years under the direction of Conductor Emeritus Dr. Thomas Hill, who led the band from 1971 to 1993. Here is his remembrance of Dr. Hill, who passed away on December 16, 2017.
Matt Hynes, my high school band director had the vision of starting the City of Fairfax Band in 1969, but it was Dr. Hill who brought the group to prominence in the city and surrounding community for the next 23 yrs.
He was well respected by city and community leaders having been a Professor of Music at American University and later George Mason University.
He was all about sharing his musical talents with others. It was never about him. He nurtured young talent in the City Band, giving them opportunities to be soloists and conductors. I was one of those fortunate enough to do both. He also shared the podium on every concert with his Assistant Conductor Jack Mauro. They were quite a team.
Dr. Hill was also determined to expose the audience and band to works that they might not have heard. We always said he liked to “educate” both his audience and the band for a portion of the program.
I learned a great deal from him as a person and how he worked tirelessly on behalf of the group, to include being the first one to help set up for concerts and the last to leave.
In 1989, Dr. Hill requested that I form a big band to play for Wolf Trap’s Family Night which kicked off their summer season.
My fondest memories are when he conducted the band for over 20 years at Bethany and Rehoboth Beaches for summer concerts, and at the Kennedy Center for the WMAL Christmas Eve radio broadcasts.