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Shortly after retiring from Harvard University, Tom Everett ’66, MS ’69, learned that he was receiving the illustrious Harvard Medal for extraordinary service.

“Harvard’s Music Man,” as the university president referred to Tom during the medal ceremony, had a huge impact on the institution for over 40 years as the university’s director of bands. Along with pioneering Harvard’s jazz program, Tom organized and conducted the Harvard Jazz Bands, Harvard Wind Ensemble, and Harvard Summer Pops Band.

Reflecting on his own college days, Tom credits his high school band director and his private trumpet teacher, both IC alumni, as inspiration for applying to Ithaca College.

Then, while at IC, he had three experiences that changed the course of his career. The first was hearing a recording of studio bass trombonist George Roberts. “That sonorous sound completely captured me. The very next day, I started looking for a bass trombone,” Tom says. The second was joining a jazz band formed and directed by classmate Bob Levy ’66. The third—and most significant—was working with music professor Warren Benson.

“Professor Benson was a remarkable musician and teacher; his presence inspired me to listen past the written notes on the page to discover the inner music.” 

The Crimson came calling soon after Tom wrapped up his master’s degree at IC. An Ithaca connection—Frank Battisti ’53, MS ’64—had briefly held the Harvard University director of bands position and recommended Tom as his replacement.

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Tom says—and that’s exactly what he made of it.