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Maestro Steve Rhodes

posted Jun 20, 2014, 7:09 PM by Keith Whitford
Maestro Steve Rhodes, 60, died in Indianapolis on Sunday, March 16 at the Abbie Hunt Bryce Home.  He was a talented professional trombonist and euphonium player, outstanding conductor, gifted music arranger and close friend and mentor to hundreds of musicians in Indiana.  Originally from Peru, Indiana, he was born on September 19, 1953 to Richard M. and Rosemary Rhodes.  He is survived by his mother and by his sister and brother-in-law, Susan and Brendan Fox.   Steve attended Indiana University in Bloomington where he studied history and music.  He also served as an announcer for IU’s radio station, WFIU and helped develop the format for the classical music quiz show “Ether Game”.  Steve moved to New York City where he worked as a copy editor for a publishing company which produces numerous magazines including the New Yorker. While there, he participated in various musical activities including the New York Recorder Ensemble.  When he moved back to Indiana, he worked as a paralegal at his father's law office and later attended Ball State University pursuing a music performance degree. Steve performed for five seasons as trombonist with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra and for over twenty years was the principal trombone in the Kokomo Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Rhodes performed with touring orchestras of noted entertainers Henry Cuesta, Frankie Lain and Kaye Starr and has played in numerous dance bands including frequent tours with the legendary Guy Lombardo Orchestra.

Mr. Rhodes began his conducting career by leading a local community presentation of "Carousel” while still a student at Peru High School under the legendary music director James Noble.  He has since served as music director for numerous musical theater productions including conducting "Hello Dolly" and "South Pacific" for the Kokomo Civic Theater. In 1989, he was named Music Director of the Kokomo Park Band serving in that position for the past 24 years. He has been the conductor of the Old Crown Brass Band in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and been the leader of the historical Bluffton Street Fair Band for over 20 years.

Mr. Rhodes was widely respected as a musical arranger. His music arrangements have been played by major Indiana symphony orchestras from Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Elkhart, Richmond, Muncie, Lafayette and Kokomo.  In addition to arranging music for the Kokomo Park Band, he was also arranger for the Indiana Wind Symphony.    His arrangements for marching and concert band have been programmed by numerous high school, college and community bands throughout the Midwest, as well as by the U.S. Army Band and by the Princess of Wales' Royal Regimental Band in England.

 With an avid interest in music history and musicology, Mr. Rhodes was also an articulate musical spokesperson. He frequently gave presentations at "Words on Music", the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's series of pre-concert commentary sessions and for many years was a regular panelist on WFYI's "The Listening Room", the weekly classical music review and discussion program of Indianapolis' National Public Radio affiliate.