On October 26, the Austin-based choral ensemble Conspirare, directed by Texas State School of Music’s Artist in Residence, Craig Hella Johnson, and TXST viola professor Ames Asbell performed at the interment of Matthew Shepard’s ashes at Washington National Cathedral. The service was live-streamed and covered by national news media.
“I am tempted to claim that this weekend was a routine success for the School of Music, but it was truly extraordinary. Three spectacular blockbuster performances:
- Saturday night, Bobcat Marching Band‘s dazzling half-time show under the direction of Kyle Glaser for a Homecoming crowd of 15,000 at Jim Wacker Field.
- Sunday afternoon, Texas State Symphony Orchestra under the direction of new maestro Jacob Harrison in Evans Auditorium performed brilliantly the entire 7 movements of The Planets Op. 32 by Holst, a massive, iconic masterpiece of the orchestral repertoire.
- Sunday evening in the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall, professors Ron Ulen, baritone, and Joey Martin, piano, gave a stunningly beautiful duo recital in which Schumann’s beloved 16-song cycle Dichterliebe Op.48 was staged imaginatively as a one-character opera scene.
“Students rose to the height of their growing abilities, led and inspired by our awesome faculty. Wow!”
The president of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education has announced that TXST music professor John Lopez will be the 2019 recipient of the William Aguilar Cultural Arts Award. This award “recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to the understanding of the national Latino community and/or culture through the fine, creative, and performing arts.”
John Lopez has been a rising star of Texas State University since first graduating from the University as a music major, to earning his Master of Music degree here in 1992, to teaching part-time, then full-time, advancing to tenured Associate Professor. He founded and coordinated the Latin Music Studies area at Texas State University in 2003.
Starting with the creation of Salsa del Rio in 1995, the area has grown to include such award-winning ensembles as Mariachi Nueva Generacion, Mariachi Lince De Oro, and Orquesta del Rio. Under Lopez’s direction, the Salsa and Mariachi ensembles have gained much recognition throughout the state, as well as nationally and internationally through several performance opportunities. Salsa del Rio has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Brienz Jazz Festival, Carnaval de Nice, Cancun and Mexico City, and at the prestigious Notre Dame Jazz Festival, where they have won several awards.
Mariachi Nueva Generacion has risen to one of the best university Mariachi ensembles in the state of Texas. They compete regularly at the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza held annually in December in San Antonio, TX, where they have won first place eight out of the last eleven years that they have competed. Internationally, Mariachi Nueva Generacion has toured Europe alongside the Texas State University Symphony Orchestra. In 2012, Mariachi Nueva Generacion and Salsa del Rio toured and performed in Chile.
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.”
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!
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
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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m8MqIS6VEU.
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.
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.