Sergeant Major (Retired) William H. Messerschmidt was Principal Percussionist/Percussion Group Leader of The United States Army Band (Pershing’s Own) at Washington, D.C. from 1994-2002. A special bandsman for 32 years (1969-2002), he first served with The U.S. Army Field Band, the Army’s Official Touring Band from 1969-1974 and then with Pershing’s Own, performing in 49 states and 16 foreign countries for six U.S. Presidents, Queen Elizabeth II, Emperor Akihito, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Pope John Paul II and appearing as solo clinician, marimba soloist with the Concert Band, and Special Drummer at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1979, as timpanist with Pershing’s Own he performed music from “West Side Story” under Leonard Bernstein at the John F. Kennedy Center reception for Deng Xiaoping, Vice Premier of The People’s Republic of China, for the very first U.S. visit by any leader of the PRC. On September 14, 2001 he was privileged to serve as timpanist with The U.S. Army Orchestra in the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance service for the victims of September 11th.
Prior to military service, he received the degree Bachelor of Music with Distinction in Applied Percussion from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where he studied with William Street and John H. Beck and was Principal Percussionist of the Eastman Wind Ensemble his senior year. In later years, he pursued graduate studies with Michael Bookspan of the Philadelphia Orchestra and has performed ad hoc with the Buffalo, Harrisburg, Prince William, Chesapeake, Shenandoah, Richmond, Annapolis, Roanoke, and Lynchburg Symphony Orchestras; as well as with The Cathedral of St. Thomas More Brass at Arlington, VA; the Manassas Ballet Theater Orchestra; The Lebanon (PA) Community Concert Band; The National Christian Choir; and the Baltimore Opera Company.
Following his Army service, SGM Messerschmidt was first field drummer with The Fifes & Drums of Prince William III, a professional corps which performed in three states and in D.C. for such notables as David McCullough, Prince Andrew, Lynne Cheney, Sec. Robert Gates, and Laura Bush and for events like the groundbreaking for The National Library for the Study of George Washington and the opening of The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center at Mt. Vernon. Currently, he is first percussionist with The Capital Band, a professional ensemble performing in the national capital area for special events, such as the opening of the Smithsonian’s Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture in Washington, D.C. in 2006. As a timpanist, he has performed at The Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C., at Immanuel Lutheran Church and Christ the King Anglican Church in Alexandria, and at Georgetown University for graduation exercises and for The Founding Exercises of The McCourt School of Public Policy.
Having taught for Northern Virginia Community College from 1983-2011, SGM Messerschmidt currently teaches percussion classes at Christ Chapel Academy in Woodbridge and has been on the VCU faculty since 2008. His students have achieved success as educators and performers, e.g., with The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps, The U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, The U.S. Military Academy Drum and Bugle Corps, The U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own), and the National Symphony Orchestra and have attended VCU, Indiana (Bloomington), University of Michigan, LSU (Baton Rouge), the University of North Texas, Miami (FLA), Berklee, Temple, Eastman, and The Curtis Institute of Music.
Affiliations include Kappa Delta Pi, An International Honor Society In Education; The College Music Society; National Association for Music Education; National Association of Rudimental Drummers (Honorary Lifetime Member); Percussive Arts Society; U.S. Association of Rudimental Drummers (Lifetime Member); Sabian Artists; and the Vic Firth Education Team. Honors include being named an “Outstanding Educator” by the Virginia Governor’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts in 2003 and appearing in Marquis “Who’s Who in the World” for 2005-2006. SGM Messerschmidt’s military awards include The National Defense Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Army Superior Unit Award(2), The Army Achievement Medal (5), The Army Commendation Medal (2), The Meritorious Service Medal, The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and The Legion of Merit.