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student playing grand piano
SU music student Molly Fullerton practices on a Kawai grand piano originally belonging to Otello Meucci

Memorial Scholarship Continues Legacy of Lifelong Musician Otello Meucci

Otello Meucci
Otello Meucci

By SU Integrated Marketing

SALISBURY, MD---Music has a special kind of magic. Otello “Tello” Meucci learned this as a child, when he picked up a wind instrument for the first time – and as he grew older, he became a living example that music is what brings people together.

It was a gift, one he was happy to share with others.

The late Tello Meucci was a longtime supporter of Salisbury University and left a lasting impact on the music community at SU. He was a founding member of the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, where he performed as a principal clarinetist. For more than 30 years, he devoted his time to the University’s Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, Musical Theater Pit Orchestra, Choir and Chorale Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and other music venues at SU and the surrounding area.

In memory of his love for music and the SU community, his wife Gail Meucci recently gave nearly $125,000 to establish the Otello Meucci Memorial Music Education Scholarship. The award will provide renewable funding for music education majors demonstrating financial need.

“Tello loved SU, and he especially loved the students,” Gail said. “Music became such a big part of his life.”

Tello first discovered his love for music as a child, when he was diagnosed with lung pleurisy and took up wind instruments to help with his recovery. From there his passion for music only grew, and he later studied composition at Boston Conservatory of Music. With no money to afford tuition or even a dorm room, he worked in the theater alongside his studies and slept on a cot in the boiler room.

“Tello worked hard to put himself through his education, so I thought a music scholarship in his name would be the perfect way to honor him,” Gail said. “My hope is that this scholarship will help students in a similar situation, so they don’t have to work while pursuing their studies.”

Everywhere Tello lived, he was greatly involved with the music community and used that passion to bring people together. During World War II, he founded the Otello Meucci Orchestra and helped host community dances at his local high school. When he began his career as a music teacher in Washington, D.C., he became a support system for his students and their families during integration riots. After moving to the Eastern Shore, he would host band rehearsals at his and Gail’s home in Bethany Beach, DE.

It is Gail’s hope that the scholarship will honor Tello’s memory by supporting future music educators who can share their knowledge and passion with others, just as he did.

“Tello’s whole life was involved with music, and Salisbury was so important to him,” Gail said. “SU was his second home.”

Gail has made other gifts to SU in Tello’s honor, including a 7-foot Kawai grand piano. Located in Fulton Hall, the piano is used for coaching sessions and PRESTO lessons. She also donated a number of reference books to the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance and Peter and Judy Jackson Music Program.

Bill Folger, music professor and director of choral studies at SU, said the gifts will go a long way to honor Tello’s memory and support students in SU’s music programs.

“I am honored to have known Tello since 2004 and worked alongside him for numerous choral-orchestral works and musicals I conducted at SU,” Folger said. “The donations from his wonderful wife Gale will benefit music students at SU for years to come.”

For more information about scholarships and endowments, contact Amy Luppens at

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