Richard T. Minnotte, Director of Percussion Studies for the Mt. Lebanon School District, located in Mt. Lebanon, PA a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA, is now in his 42nd year with the district. He is responsible for guiding and directing all aspects of the percussion program in grades 4-12, conducting the Concert Ensemble and Percussion Orchestra and assisting with the Blue Devils Marching Band.
Mr. Minnotte’s career with the Mt. Lebanon Schools began in 1973 when he was hired as Assistant Marching Band Director. In 1978, he became a full time elementary band instructor while continuing his duties with the marching band. In 1985, Mr. Minnotte began his work as Director of Percussion Studies.
Under his direction, the percussion program in Mt. Lebanon has grown from 15 high school students in 1984 to over 175 students in grades 4-12 for the 2010/2011 school year. With eight concert ensembles, two world ensembles, two specialty ensembles and the marching percussion section, Mt. Lebanon Percussion is recognized as one of the premier public school percussion programs in the nation. WQED-FM (Pittsburgh’s NPR station) calls Mt. Lebanon Percussion, “…a success beyond belief.” In 1997, the adjudication panel for the Golden Gate Music Festival in San Francisco, CA. said of the Mt. Lebanon Percussion: “One of the finest examples of music education we have ever seen.” Dr. Cort McClaren, Director of the National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy, stated in 2010: “…the percussion program organized by Richard Minnotte at Mt. Lebanon is one of the most distinguished examples of excellence in the United States.”
The 2013/2014 school year marks the 30th season for the percussion program. Through its 29 previous seasons, the Concert Ensemble has received both local, state and national recognition. In August of 2001, the ensemble was selected by the Pennsylvania Music Educator’s Associationas one of the outstanding musical ensembles in Pennsylvania. As such, they were invited to perform at the 2002PMEA State Convention in Hershey. This honor was repeated again in 2005, 2008 and 2011.
In 2006, PMEA selected the ensemble as one of three groups for recommendation to the Music Educator’s National Convention (MENC). MTL Percussion was selected to play at the national convention in Salt Lake City, the onlypercussion ensemble in the nation so honored.
In 2007, Bands of America/Music for All selected MTL Percussionto perform for the Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival in Indianapolis, IN. There they joined seven other outstanding high school percussion ensembles from around the nation in a series of concerts. MTL Percussion returned to the Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival again in 2009, 2012 and 2013.
In 2010, MTL Percussion was invited to perform the “Keynote Concert” for the National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy held at the University of Oklahoma.
The Concert Ensemble, as well as the Drumline, have received numerous awards including first place and superior ratings in competitions around the country. In April 2005, the Concert Ensemble won First Place in Percussion Ensemble during competition in Virginia Beach, VA. In addition, since 1996 the Concert Ensemble has been honored to perform the live music for the KDKA-TV Children’s Hospital Free Care Fund Telethon.
Under Mr. Minnotte’s direction, the Concert Ensemble has recorded four compact discs. The first, Holiday Bells, Mallets & Drums , features music from the ensemble’s popular holiday concert series based on the University of Oklahoma’s Christmas Bells, Mallets & Drums series. The second CD, 20th Anniversary Evening of Percussion, features selections from 20 years worth of spring percussion ensemble concerts. In December of 2007, Holiday Bells, Mallets & Drums - Volume 2, was released featuring many of the new holiday commissions written exclusively for the MTL Percussion. The most recent CD, 25th Anniversary Evening of Percussion, updates the 20th Anniversary CD by adding selections performed between 2004 and 2008.
In 1996, Mr. Minnotte received the Outstanding Service Award presented by the Mt. Lebanon Parent, Teacher, Student Association. This award was in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments with, and dedication to, the students of the Mt. Lebanon Percussion. In 1998, he was honored by Mt. Lebanon Magazine as Citizen of the Year in Mt. Lebanon as part of the magazine’s annual This Town Would Be Different Without… Award. Mt. Lebanon Magazine commended Mr. Minnotte for his years of dedication to the students of Mt. Lebanon. In 2006,Malletech designated the Mt. Lebanon Percussion Ensemble a Malletech Artist Ensemble and Mr. Minnotte as an Educational Artist. The Mt. Lebanon School District selected him for their Great Alumni Award in September of 2008 and School Band and Orchestra Magazine featured Mr. Minnotte on the cover of their November 2008 magazine.
In 1994, Mr. Minnotte began a commissioning series to develop repertoire for high school percussion ensembles. To date, thirty-five pieces have been commissioned with seven of those having received national publication.
Mr. Minnotte’s previous positions include two years as Assistant Director of Bands at Duquesne University and three years as Director of Youth Music at the South Avenue United Methodist Church in Wilkinsburg, PA. While at Duquesne, he had conducting responsibilities with both theSymphonic Band and Wind Ensemble. In addition, he was responsible for instructing the marching band methods and undergraduate conducting classes.
Mr. Minnotte studied privately with Frank Shaffer and William Schneiderman, former principal timpanist with thePittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh where he received both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music Education. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, National Association for Music Education, Percussive Arts Society and the National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy. Mr. Minnotte is a Malletech, Remo and Vic Firth Educational Artist.