Taylor Time to highlight "Taps" and three centuries of American music

Publication Date

When the College marked the 150th anniversary of the military bugle call Taps last spring, it called upon Jari Villanueva to lead the event.

A retired Air Force veteran and author of Twenty-Four Notes That Tap Deep Emotions: The History of America’s Most Famous Bugle Call, Villanueva led a 15-piece brass band comprised of faculty, students and local professional brass players in a celebrated performance in Memorial Chapel. It was a fitting tribute to Daniel Butterfield, a member of Union’s Class of 1849, who was responsible for Taps.

Villanueva returns to campus Monday, May 6 to lead the local band in a 5 p.m. concert on Hull Plaza (rain site is Memorial Chapel). Now known as the Butterfield Brass Band (from Taps 150 Brass Band), the group will play a collection of American music spanning three centuries, from Revolutionary War music through songs of the Civil War through Sousa marches to more modern pop material.

The program ends with a solo rendition of Taps by Villanueva, who, as a 23-year member of the United States Air Force Band, has performed the call more than 5,000 times at Arlington National Cemetery.

The event, part of the Taylor Time concert series, is free and open to the public.

"The response from audience members and musicians alike to last year's concert was so positive that we decided to make the Taps 150 Brass Band into a permanent group," said Tim Olsen, associate professor of music. As members of Bugles Across America, the volunteer organization that provides a live bugler to play Taps at the burial services for American veterans, Olsen and Steve Weisse (husband of Carol, Health Professions director) were familiar with Villanueva and asked him to come back to campus.

Before the concert, Villanueva will visit with students in Olsen's American Music class to discuss popular music in the 19th century and the band tradition.

The concert is sponsored by the Music Department with support from American Studies and an IEG grant.

Taps is arguably the most recognizable 24 notes in music. Played at funerals and wreath-laying and memorial services, the military bugle call was first sounded in July 1862.

While serving as a general during the Civil War, Butterfield didn’t like the traditional bugle call that marked the day’s end. With the help of his brigade’s bugler, he tweaked another call no longer in use. The eloquent and haunting sound quickly spread to other units and became the new standard.

Taylor Time is a series of concerts, from 5 to 5:50 p.m. in Emerson Hall, Taylor's intimate recital hall, "designed to fit in between work and school day and evening activities.”