International Music Education Conference Honors Ithaca College Alumnus Arnald Gabriel

ITHACA, NY — The Midwest Clinic, the world’s largest instrumental music education conference, gave unprecedented recognition to Ithaca College alumnus Colonel Arnald D. Gabriel at its December conference by bestowing him with a glass sculpture to express special appreciation for his more than 60 years of achievement and leadership in the music profession.

Gabriel had already garnered the Midwest Clinic’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, which he received in 1973 to recognize his service to music and education, and his influence on the development of bands and orchestras. Other Medal of Honor recipients include trumpet artist Wynton Marsalis; conductor Leonard Slatkin; composer Morton Gould; Karel Husa, Pulitzer Prize–winning composer and former Ithaca College faculty member; and Ithaca College alumnus and wind ensemble conductor Frank Battisti.

“Nearly 40 years after receiving the Medal of Honor, Colonel Gabriel continues to be a quintessential role model and mentor who influences student, avocational and professional musicians throughout America and the world,” said Midwest Clinic officials in a statement. “It is an honor for the Midwest Clinic to present the additional special recognition award to this wonderful American.”

In addition to his devotion to his profession, Gabriel has generously supported his alma mater. Among his gifts to Ithaca College is the Colonel Arnald Gabriel ’50 HDRMU ’89 Visiting Wind Conductor Residency, which Gabriel established to annually bring an accomplished guest wind conductor to campus. Gabriel also created the Burton Stanley ’35, M.S. ’52, Endowed Scholarship in honor of his former high school band director, who played a crucial role in channeling Gabriel into music education and performance. After graduating from the Ithaca College School of Music with a bachelor’s in 1950, Gabriel earned his master’s 10 years later. The college bestowed him with an honorary doctorate in 1989.

During Gabriel’s 36-year career with the U.S. Air Force, he received three Legion of Merit awards for his service to music education and the Air Force. In addition to serving as commander/conductor of the U.S. Air Force Band, Gabriel also directed the Air Force’s symphony orchestra and the Singing Sergeants. In 1990, he was named the first Conductor Emeritus of the U.S. Air Force Band. (Gabriel’s military service also included an infantry stint in Europe during World War II, which earned him two Bronze Stars, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the French Croix de Guerre.)

After retiring from the Air Force, Gabriel served 10-years on the faculty of Virginia’s George Mason University and was named Professor Emeritus of Music. His many civilian honors include the first Citation of Excellence awarded by the National Band Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia’s New Millennium Lifetime Achievement Award and its rarely presented National Citation for “significant contributions to music in America.” In 1989, Ithaca College conferred Gabriel with an honorary doctor of music degree; in 1997 the college further honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Inducted into the National Band Association Hall of Fame of Distinguished Band Conductors, Gabriel has performed in all 50 of the United States and in 50 countries around the world. Among the major orchestras and bands he conducted are the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; the Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Tatui Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestras; the Dallas Wind Symphony; and the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra. Most recently he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which pays tribute to the immigrant experience by honoring individuals from various ethnic backgrounds who have shown outstanding qualities in their personal and professional lives.

A native of Cortland, New York, Gabriel currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia.

For more information, contact Jenny Stockdale, marketing communications manager in the Ithaca College School of Music, at or (607) 274-3256.

Colonel Arnald D. Gabriel, photo by Dave Burbank