“Red Socks and Low Brass” to honor late Marshall professor

JohnMeadTribute_04-06-14The Marshall University Trombone Ensemble and other area trombonists will be performing at “Red Socks and Low Brass: A Tribute to John Mead,” beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 6, in Smith Recital Hall on the Huntington campus.

The concert is in memory of 31-year Marshall low brass professor and trombonist Dr. John Mead, who died in February.

Perhaps best recognized at performances for wearing red socks with his tuxedo, Mead was an accomplished trombonist, holding first chair in five symphonies and performing in numerous brass quintets and ensembles, sometimes accompanying star performers such as Glen Campbell, Bob Hope and Shirley Jones. He even played in ice show orchestras and the Ringling Brothers Circus Band.

Mead wore many other hats besides that of trombonist, including pilot.

Dr. Don Williams, clarinetist and retired chair of the Marshall music department, remembered fondly the impression Mead made on him soon after the two met in 1983. Williams had come from California to interview at Marshall. Following the interview, Mead offered to charter a private airplane to fly Williams to Lexington, Ky., to start off his trip back west.

“John rented a single-engine plane — used to carry caskets — and four of us made the trip to Lexington,” Williams said. “Needless to say, I was impressed. Here was a fine musician and accomplished teacher who was also a pilot.”

Williams was offered and accepted the position at Marshall. The two would remain friends until Mead passed away Feb. 8, 2014, at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., following a brief illness. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Joan Tyler Mead, retired dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Marshall.

According to his obituary, Mead was a demanding and inspiring professor whose loyal and close-knit students could be spotted wearing their red socks at concerts.

Marshall University plans to establish a Mead Scholarship for Music in Mead’s memory.

Featuring about 30 trombones, the performance will be under the direction of current low brass professor Dr. Michael Stroeher. Those interested in performing at “Red Socks and Low Brass: A Tribute to John Mead,” can contact Stroeher by phone at 304-696-3109 or by e-mailing stroeher@marshall.edu.