Memorial: Tom Schneller

Friends of Rochester Symphony, As you may have heard, Tom Schneller–who has been with us as timpanist and percussion section leader for more than forty years–passed away Sunday evening in an auto accident. He had just played timpani in a concert with the Dubuque Symphony and was driving back to his home in Appleton, WI when the accident occurred.

No one in my time with Rochester Symphony has been more dedicated or committed than Tom Schneller. His knowledge of the use of percussion in the orchestral repertoire was encyclopedic. He took great care to be sure that at each moment we were using just the right instrument with the right sound to make our performances authentic and effective.

Tom put more miles on the road to be able to perform with musical colleagues than anyone else I know. After Dubuque this past weekend, he was going to play timpani with the La Crosse Symphony this weekend before returning to be with us a week later. His major musical commitment for the past four decades has been Rochester Symphony.

We will miss Tom as the anchor of our percussion section. Personally, I will miss his knowledge and insights about scores through all of music history. There are few of us for whom RS has meant as much as it did to Tom. Our deepest condolences to his family.

Jere Lantz
Artistic Director

Tom Schneller Celebration of Life
You are invited to join the Celebration of Life service to honor Tom Schneller, Timpanist for Rochester Symphony for over 40 years.

When: Saturday, March 25, 2023 at 11am (prelude starting at 10:30am)

Where: Pax Christi Church (4135 18th Avenue NW) in Rochester, MN

What to Expect: Rochester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale musicians will provide music during the prelude. Retired Maestro Jere Lantz will share a reading and some thoughts about Tom. Pat Anderson will lead members of the chorale (with musicians from the orchestra) in closing the service with the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Those who knew Tom are welcome to join this meaningful time to be together.

Obituary Written by the Family:

Thomas Scott Schneller, 75, of Neenah, WI, and formerly of Lacrosse, WI, Minneapolis, MN, and Royal Oak and Detroit, MI, lost his life suddenly and tragically on November 6, 2022, from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident in rural Wisconsin. Born to George Ramsey Schneller Jr, and Carroll (Cook) Schneller on February 23, 1947, he was the oldest of three children, and a proud US Army military veteran.

In addition to his military service, Tom’s professional life’s contribution was in his much beloved field of music. Tom received his BA from Wayne State University, and his MS in Education and Music Performance from Crane School of Music, State University of New York at Potsdam. He was a proud professional musician his entire working career with vast and significant lifelong contributions to the field, including membership in the international award winning Men’s Glee Club, the Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity, Interlochen Arts Academy, and Shell Lake Arts Camp. He served as President of the Wisconsin Percussive Arts Society, and he co-authored the percussion methods book “Modern School for Mallet-Keyboard Instruments.” Tom was also an educator, working as a faculty member with the LaCrosse, WI school district, as well as in several posts at the university level, and many of his students have gone on to become successful university instructors and professional musicians playing in orchestras all over the country.

But his most beloved contribution in the field of music was his role as Timpanist and Principal Percussionist for The Rochester Symphony in Rochester, MN where he was “highly valued for his impeccable sound and knowledge of music.”

Although he played for many orchestras throughout the country, he was extremely proud of his contributions to and service in the West Point US Army Military Band and West Point Alumni Band and American Legion Band of the Tonawanda’s, Buffalo, NY.

Along with his commitment to and love for his chosen vocation, Tom’s teaching abilities also extended into the world of healthcare. Trained in the specialty of lymph drainage therapy at the Upledger Institute by the renowned Dr. Bruno Chickly, he become a certified lymphedema practitioner, and ultimately achieved certification to teach new students this healing specialty through the Upledger Institute and Chickly Institute. Tom also loved the great outdoors, enjoying hunting, skiing, and hiking, and spending time at the family cabin in Wellston, MI built by his father and grandfather. He was also a member of and of service to the National Ski Patrol and LaCrosse Dive Rescue Team and served for a time with the New Richmond WI Police Department.

Tom was the beloved companion of Carolyn Liarakos, loving father of Scott Schneller; Brian Schneller; Alison (Scotty) Barkholtz and Kristin (Patrick) Kerwin. Cherished grandfather of Julian Kerwin. Former husband of Claudia Schneller Melby. Dear brother of David (Heddy) Schneller and Maurita (Wes) Pluff and uncle of many nieces and nephews. Tom is preceded in death by his parents, as well as his niece Juliet Schneller and nephew Hans Schneller.

Tom was laid to rest in a beautiful wooded setting at the Central Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in King, Wisconsin on November 18, 2022. An additional memorial service celebrating Toms love of historic drumming will be held May 20, 2023, at the UB Newman Center, Buffalo, NY.

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