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Retirement of Lt. Col. Dwayne S. Milburn

By SGT Jesse Welborn | U.S. Army Europe Band and Chorus | Sept. 27, 2018

SEMBACH, Germany —

The Greek philosopher Pericles once said:

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved on stone monuments but what is woven into the hearts of others.”

Lt. Col. Dwayne S. Milburn has spent his professional life weaving his love of music and country into the hearts of everyone he’s encountered. As the Army bids farewell to one of its most influential Bandmasters, his many accomplishments will be remembered by all those he influenced.

Lt. Col. Milburn spent his career serving both his country and his art. He began his Army journey as a cadet at The United States Military Academy at West Point in 1981. After transferring to the University of California – Los Angeles, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music, Lt. Col. Milburn returned to West Point as the director of the internationally renowned West Point Glee Club. As the director of the U.S. Military Academy’s most visible cadet organization, Lt. Col. Milburn’s love of music and country struck a harmonious balance that would shape his life.

After earning a Master’s Degree in Orchestral Conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1992, Lt. Col. Milburn entered the Army as one of its 24 commissioned Bandmasters. It was clear from his first assignment that Lt. Col. Milburn would have a lasting impact on the field. His mentor, retired Col. Tom Rotondi, recalls:

“[H]e really was a triple-edged sword when it came to conducting. He had such an extraordinary background with choral, orchestral, and wind band ensembles. He knew all the nuances associated with each and could easily and quickly make any group sound its best.”

Lt. Col. Milburn’s assignments with the U.S. Army Band Program include serving as the Director of the Soldiers’ Chorus at the U.S. Army Field Band, Director of The Army Chorus at The U.S. Army Band, as the executive officer of the Training and Doctrine Command Band and the U.S. Army Europe Band, and as the commander of the U.S. Army Europe Band.

While stationed in Washington, D.C. Lt. Col. Milburn served on the Inauguration committees for Presidents Clinton and Obama. He was also on the State Funeral Planning Committee and contributed musical arrangements for President Reagan and Betty Ford’s funerals.

In addition to his service as an Army Bandmaster, Lt. Col. Milburn is an internationally recognized conductor, composer, and arranger. He earned a Ph.D. from UCLA in Music Composition in 2009. During his Ph.D. studies he served as the composer in residence for the music guild of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, where he wrote three major works for Chamber Orchestra. He has also completed commissioned compositions for UCLA, University of North Texas, Indiana University at Pennsylvania, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Through his numerous compositions, Lt. Col. Milburn has woven his way into the hearts of musicians and citizens all over the world. His hundreds of arrangements and compositions for the U.S. Army Bands have created a legacy that will last for generations.

Lt. Col. Milburn incurred a 5 year break in service to complete is Ph.D., and reentering the Military was no small feat. The Army Music Program is grateful for his dedication to duty that called him to return. In the words of Col. Rotondi:

“Dwayne loved the military and the opportunities it offered, he loved supporting our troops, he loved mentoring young Soldiers, and I know he had [an] enormous sense of pride serving our nation.”

After his retirement, LTC Milburn will return to St. Matthew’s as their Director of Choral Music. As difficult as it is to bid farewell to such an outstanding leader, we at the United States Army Europe Band and Chorus are thankful to have benefitted from Lt. Col. Milburn’s passion and expertise.

Sir, congratulations on a truly outstanding career. You have set the bar high for military officers and musicians everywhere. Thank you for your service, and thank you for weaving your way into our hearts.