Chicago premiere of Matthew Shepard

Grammy-winner and Texas State Artist-in-Residence Craig Hella Johnson and his Austin-based choral ensemble Conspirare gave the first Chicago-area performance of Johnson’s monumental work, Considering Matthew Shepard, at the Ravinia Festival’s Martin Theatre. The performance included TXST instrumental music faculty Ames Asbell and Vanguel Tangarov. The Chicago Tribune published an admiring review of the performance and the piece, describing it as “a stylistically free-ranging score that carried echoes of Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber but also old-fashioned hymnody and raw and cathartic blues. It was dispatched persuasively by choristers, who took turns playing various characters; instrumentalists who provided atmosphere and color . . .” and as an expression that “became much more than just one man’s story. In some respects, it was everyone’s story, a reflection on human travails and heavenly aspirations.”


Texas State Choirs Today podcast

The Texas State Choirs have launched a new podcast, “Texas State Choirs Today.” Hosted by Associate Director of Choral Activities Jonathan Babcock, the podcast features interviews with guest artists and faculty. This season will include interviews with composers Gwyneth Walker and Jocelyn Hagen; Ralph Allwood, O.B.E. former Precentor and Director of Music at Eton College, UK; as well as faculty artists Marc Reynolds, Craig Hella Johnson and Lynn Brinckmeyer. Episodes are released the first and fifteenth of every month. You can find Texas State Choirs Today on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe today!

Bands to celebrate 100-year history

Three hundred and sixty-five days go by and it is a year. Ten of those years pass and it is a decade. Ten decades pass and the overwhelming feeling of a hundred years passing by is a century filled with rich memories and evolution. The upcoming year, 2019 – 2020, the Bobcat Bands are planning many events to celebrate the Bands’ hundredth anniversary. The Texas State Bands Centennial Music Project is one of the projects taking part in the annual online giving “Step up for State” campaign, which is occurring October 3 through today for 1,899 minutes (corresponding to the year in which the university was founded). The fund drive is an opportunity to support the commission of a new composition dedicated to the elite TXST Wind Symphony.

John Fleming, the dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication, asked Dr. Kevin Mooney to write a decade-by-decade history of the music program at TXST. “I’m proud to be a Bobcat, and, being associated with the School of Music, am honored to have been asked to document its history,” Dr. Kevin Mooney said. While researching, Dr. Mooney has found details that contrast to the modern-day marching band of about 350 students. “The Bobcat Band enjoys a reputation for exciting half-time performances and exhibits an impressive force on the field. This is quite in contrast to its early days,” Dr. Mooney said. “Dr. Robert A. Tampke was the first faculty director of the band, as the band was student directed prior to his arrival in 1923. He recalled in a 1978 interview that when they first played as a college band (there were ten or twelve [students] in the band at the time), they were stopped at the gate when they arrived at the field and asked to pay admission.”

“One interesting thing that I discovered was that among the first seventeen faculty members when the doors first opened to students of that first fall class in 1903 was a music teacher, Miss Mary Stuart Butler. Butler Hall here on campus was named after her. She was primarily a voice teacher, but she taught every college student, since at least one music course was required for all students.”

— story by music-major Jennifer Gutierrez

Trombone prof does video, summer festivals

This summer Dr. Martin McCain took part in a 28-member video collaboration of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” with several trombonists across the globe. Some of those members are Peter Moore (London Symphony), Zoltan Kiss (Mnozil Brass), Paul Pollard (The Met) and jazz artists such as Jiggs Whigham and Marshall Gilkes, just to name a few. The video can be found on youtube at

28 TrombonesMcCain also taught and performed at summer festivals in Croatia, China, Japan and Taiwan. On September 4, McCain was an artist in residence at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Donors connect with scholarship recipients

Lisa and Jim Bob Spencer, principal sponsors with Sharon Lockett in the Spencer/Lockett Scholarship Fund, attended a recent Somos Musicos student concert along with Dean John Fleming and School of Music Director Thomas Clark. The concert began with presentation of certificates to 13 of the 20 music students receiving scholarships funded this year by Spencer/Lockett.

Dean Fleming at left, Spencers middle, Clark at right

Dean Fleming at left, Spencers middle, Clark at right

Mariachi Nueva Generación on NBC

In an article on-line about Hispanic-serving institutions of higher education, NBC News cites Texas State University as an example. “The university wrote a strategic plan in 2008 to become an HSI by 2011, which it has achieved. It now has over 14,000 Latino students, who are about 38 percent of the students enrolled. ‘We’ve done very significant programmatic activities. We created a climate that is welcoming for students. Our music program has salsa and mariachi that the students actually brought to us and we developed it,’ said T. Jaime Chahin, dean of Texas State University’s College of Applied Arts.”

The on-line piece also shows a video of our proud Mariachi Nueva Generación, which is directed by Prof. John Lopez.

Woodwind students in Europe

This summer Julia Escobar and Joshua Valdez traveled to Bulgaria for the National Academy of Music flute and clarinet masterclasses, June 21-28 in Sofia, Bulgaria. They received master class instruction from three famous Bulgarian flutists (Lydia Oshavkova, Georgi Spassov, and Ventsislav Kindalov) and interact with high school-age Bulgarian flute students to learn about their music education and their culture.
Julia also attended the Zodiac Music Academy & Festival from July 2-14 in Valdeblore, France (a tiny village in the mountains in the French Riviera). This chamber music festival was hosted by the famous Zodiac Trio. She studied with flutist Sergio Pallottelli and participated in a chamber music ensemble with strings as well as performing a solo.IMG_4711

New music majors get oriented

On Thursday, August 30, 123 incoming freshman and transfer music majors attended New Music Student Orientation in the Music Recital Hall, organized by Dr. Lynn Brinckmeyer, School of Music Associate Director. The new music students are given resources and advice on how to be successful. Students were introduced to student organizations, academic advisors, and service fraternities. They also got a few quick tips from Dr. Thomas Clark, School of Music Director, dubbed “Clark’s Rules for Musician Success” as well as health advice, like staying hydrated, sleeping enough and protecting their hearing.

The next orientation will be on Wednesday, October 3.

— story by music-major Jennifer Gutierrez