Jari Villanueva retired from the United States Air Force where he spent 23 years with The United States Air Force Band in Washington DC. While in the band he served as a trumpeter, bugler, assistant drum major, staff arranger and music copyist. He is considered the country’s foremost expert on military bugle calls, particularly the call of Taps which is sounded at military funerals. While in the Air Force he was the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge of The USAF Band’s State Funeral Plans and was the NCOIC of the command post at Andrews AFB which oversaw the arrival and departure ceremonies for the late Presidents Reagan and Ford. As a ceremonial trumpeter, Villanueva participated in well over 5,000 ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, served as an assistant drum major leading The USAF Ceremonial Brass in funerals at Arlington. He was responsible for all the music performed by the USAF Bands for state funerals. Between 1998-2002 Villanueva created a display at Arlington National Cemetery highlighting the history of the military bugler. He was responsible for moving the bugle used at President John F. Kennedy’s funeral from the Smithsonian to Arlington where it is currently on display. In 2007 Villanueva was inducted into the Buglers Hall of Fame, the first active duty military bugler to be so honored.
Jari has arranged music for brass ensembles, concert bands, and orchestras and has also worked as a music editor and music copyist, many times having to copy music overnight for a show or recording session. Now that’s a challenge! Many of his arrangements have been published by Musicians Publications, Music Express, and Ludwig Music. His musical arrangements and be found through many websites including JW Pepper and Art of Sound Music. Jari was mentored by the late Bill Holcombe who was one of america’s leading music arrangers.
From 2008-2017 Villanueva worked for the Maryland Military Department, serving as the Director of the Maryland National Guard Honor Guard (MDNGHG). The mission of the MDNGHG is to provide Military Funeral Honors to Armed Forces Veterans in Maryland and performs over 3,500 ceremonies each year. He was also conductor/commander of the Maryland Defense Force Band and retired at the rank of Major (MD) in the Maryland Military Department.
In 2011, Villanueva planned, coordinated and oversaw the funeral services for former Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer. He also provided the military funeral honors for Paul J. Wiedorfer, the last living Maryland Medal of Honor recipient. Villanueva served on the committee to plan the 150th anniversary of the Pratt Street Riots in Baltimore marking the start of the Civil War and served on the planning committee for the 9-11 Memorial of Maryland at the Baltimore World Trade Center. In 2012, Villanueva was appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley to the Maryland Military Monuments Commission.
Villanueva’s military awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Good Conduct Medal with six oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal with one service star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the State of Maryland Distinguished Service Cross, the State of Maryland Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster and the Maryland Defense Force Achievement Medal.
Villanueva is a graduate of the Baltimore Public School system and earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1978 from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. In 1984 he received a Master of Music degree from Kent State University, Ohio. He is also a 2006 graduate of the Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy.
From 1998 to 2010, Villanueva was an adjunct professor in the Music Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he served as Director of Bands. A Civil War historian and re-enactor, Villanueva is Artistic Director of the National Association for Civil War Brass Music, Inc., where he directs and leads The Federal City Brass Band and the 26th North Carolina Regimental Band, recreated regimental bands of the Civil War era. He also sounds bugle calls at many re-enactments. In addition, he served as music director for the National Civil War Field Music School where students learn to play fife, drum and bugle.
Jari finished a year-long project called TAPS150, created to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the bugle call Taps in 2012.
He is a member of the American Legion Post 109 in Arbutus, Maryland, the Air Force Musicians Association, the Maryland Historical Society, the Maryland Military Historical Society, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and an associate member of the Society of the Honor Guard – Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He is married to Heather Faust and resides in Catonsville, Maryland.