Ben McIlwain

Assistant Professor of Studio Trombone

About the Studio


Dr. Ben McIlwain joined the faculty of The University of Southern Mississippi in the fall of 2010. He holds degrees from Middle Tennessee State University (B.M.), Manhattan School of Music (M.M.) and The Florida State University (D.M.). He has also taught at Brentwood Academy, MTSU, and FSU.

An active freelance musician, Dr. McIlwain has performed with such artists as Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Peter Erskin, Rufus Reid, The Impressions, Syndicate of Soul, Denver & The Mile High Orchestra and Joey Richey. Past performances include performing with the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra (MS), Mobile Symphony (AL), Nashville Symphony (TN), the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra (AL), the Chattanooga Symphony (TN), Murfreesboro Philharmonic Orchestra (TN), Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra (FL), Meridian Symphony (MS), Misssissippi Symphony and performing on alto trombone with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra in the opening season of the new Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Also, his recording credits include performing tenor and bass trombones on Mandisa’s (former American Idol contestant) Christmas Joy album and various projects in progress with Orchestra Nashville.

In 2003 Dr. McIlwain was featured as a soloist with the Middle Tennessee State University Wind Ensemble as winner of the 2002 Solo Artist Competition. An avid supporter of modern music, Dr. McIlwain has commissioned and premiered Daniel Whaley’s Delirium, Chris Burton’sThe Voice and Ken Davies Crossroads.  In 2013, Dr. McIlwain was a part of two large commissioning projects—a Jack Stamp trombone solo with wind ensemble composition that was premiered in the Spring of 2013 and a nine-composer commissioning project with his trombone ensemble, TROMBOTEAM! that raised $10,000 through 

At Southern Miss, Dr. McIlwain directs all aspects of the trombone studio including The Southern Miss Trombone Choir and Hub Bones (jazz trombone ensemble). He is also a member of the Southern Arts Brass Quintet, the faculty brass quintet at Southern Miss. His primary teachers have included Dr. David Loucky, formerly of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Dr. Per Brevig, former Principal Trombonist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, along with Dr. John Drew, professor of trombone at Florida State University. In addition, he has participated in master classes with many of the world’s leading trombonists, including Joseph Alessi, David Finlayson, James Markey, and Steve Norrell.

As a Presidential University Fellow at Florida State University, Dr. McIlwain was the first doctoral trombone student and one of two in the entire College of Music at FSU to ever receive this honor. The research for his doctoral treatise titled, “Select Contributions and Commissions in Solo Trombone Repertoire by Trombonist Innovator and Pioneer: Stuart Dempster,” consists of extensive interviews with Stuart Dempster and Pauline Oliveros, among others.  He has published articles in the Grove Dictionary for Music and Musicians and the International Trombone Association Journal.

Upcoming projects include a large recording project with TROMBOTEAM! funded by a Scholarly and Creative Arts Grant, two world premieres- Ken Davies’ Collage 2013 and Charles Ingram’s Sonata for Trombone and Piano, and various projects in progress with the International Trombone Association. In addition to being a member of the ITA, Dr. McIlwain is also a member of the College Music Society and the Music Teachers National Association.


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