From staff reports
The Tyler Junior College Wind Ensemble is about to take a historic turn in the spotlight.
For 102 years, the Texas Music Educators Association has held an annual convention of elementary music programs at the University of Texas, including orchestra, choir, orchestra, and elementary music. It is one of the largest such gatherings in the country, attracting some 10,000 active music teachers and approximately 30,000 participants each year from across the country and around the world.
Additionally, for 102 years, the association has invited groups from nearly all educational levels to perform – with one exception, so far: TJC will be the first junior / community college to perform at the TMEA.
“It’s been a very, very long time to come, and I couldn’t be more proud of these students,” said Jeremy Strickland, group director for TJC.
The performance is scheduled for 4 pm on Friday February 11 at the Lila Cockrell Theater at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. The other two collegiate wind ensembles performing this year are Tarleton State University and the University of Texas at Austin.
“We’re talking about a 2,300-seat auditorium which, for most concerts, is full,” he said. “Concerts for major universities like UT Austin and the University of North Texas and for military groups like the United States Marine Band are for standing people only. Ours will be full.
Strickland began his quest for TMEA performance shortly after joining TJC in 2015.
“At first we weren’t even allowed to apply – and when I asked them why, I already knew that quality (of a two-year college) isn’t normally seen as something they want. put it there, ”he said.
Unlike their four-year counterparts, the roster of students in a two-year program like TJC changes by about 50% each year, with the new half being freshmen.
“But then I reminded them that junior honor groups are invited to perform at TMEA every year, and they change halves every year, just like us,” he said. “And if you allow us to have this opportunity, our groups will improve because the students will work harder to achieve a goal like this.”
The 56-member wind ensemble is TJC’s first instrumental group.
“It’s competitive to get in,” he said. “You have to audition. There are music majors and non-majors, and there are people who were there last year who didn’t make it this year.
TMEA’s 50-minute concert program will consist of six pieces, including three world premieres that were commissioned especially for this performance.
Strickland will share the leadership duties with Dr Eddie Airheart, Assistant Director of TJC Orchestras and Professor of Music and Wind Instruments.
“TJC music, trumpet and jazz teacher Micah Bell wrote a piece called ‘The Red House’ which he will also perform on,” Strickland said.
There is also a work commissioned by Kevin Day, an established young composer – and alumnus of Strickland and Airheart since their time at TCU – whose music is performed by the best ensembles around the world.
“We asked Kevin to write a slow piece of about five minutes,” Strickland said. “We also wanted it to be a grade 4 difficulty level because we want it to be on UIL’s list of competitions. If it is on this list and schools buy it, the sheet music will say “Commissioned by Jeremy Strickland, for the Tyler Junior College Wind Ensemble”, making our name known to even more people. “
Dr Tim Rhea, director of marching bands at Texas A&M University in College Station, was commissioned to write “Stump Burner March,” which includes themes from 21 different marches and is what Strickland calls “a cheeky wink. to the rich history of military bands. in east Texas.
“We wanted this concert to be stimulating and entertaining,” he said. “It’s designed to include a variety of genres in the hopes that everyone will hear something they like. It is also designed to establish that we deserve to be there and that we can play literature well at the highest level. “
Students and instructors will return a little early from the holiday break to allow themselves more rehearsal time.
“It’s important to mention that everyone in the group’s department was involved,” Strickland said. “Micah Bell (trumpets), Dr Danny Chapa (bass brass), Dr Eddie Airheart (woodwinds) and Tom McGowan (percussion) conducted the section rehearsals on Tuesdays and got everyone ready. (Department Chair and Professor) Heather Mensch also did sections with trombones. It was a huge team effort.
Strickland said that the overall, on-going approach of the TJC music program is very different from what is usual in a college music program.
“A lot of four-year schools have become a conservatory of music mindset, and it doesn’t work as well for what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “Applied teachers can offer a suggestion on style or a choice of instrument, but that’s roughly the extent of their involvement. If you are a music school, the more people you have working with your students all the time, the better off they are. That is what it should be about, and that is the way we are doing it here.
Airheart can’t wait to step onto the TMEA stage and show off what students can do, and the fact that this is all happening in the TJC band’s 75th season of the program is icing on the cake.
“It took 75 years to get us to San Antonio,” he said. “This will be a defining moment for this program. Bet on it.
Three former TJC group directors – Tom Mensch, Gary Jordan and Ronald Todd – will also be featured during the TMEA performance.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without them,” Strickland said.
He also views TJC’s TMEA selection as a call to arms for community and college groups in Texas.
“We had two objectives to do this,” he said. “I wanted TJC to be the first, but I also wanted every college in the state to know that they have this opportunity, so they can start pushing their sets to improve.”
He hopes TMEA will start inviting more two-year college programs to perform; but right now he’s focusing on how it affects his own schedule in long and short trips.
“In addition to the first historical aspect, the exposure we get from this performance will also be a pivotal moment in the type of students we are now attracting to our program,” he said. “Over the past two years we’ve had students who could have gone anywhere, and they picked us. They chose to come here for the experience, the small classes, the price and all that is right about TJC.
“TMEA’s performance will give new impetus to our program. “
Members of the TJC Wind Ensemble include Tania Andrews, Canton; Sidney Arnold, refuge; Brady Blaylock, Lindale; Hannah Boyer, shelter; Brody Bradshaw, Bullard; Christian Butler, Bullard; Alison Cheney, Lindale; Aaron Crow, Canton; Ana Cruz, Mineola; Ellery D’Angelo, Mineola; Emily Dean, Bullard; Bonnie Dyess, Canton; Sarah Elliott, Royse City; Cameran Fay, Gladewater; Emily Fulwood, Destin; Alana Galaz, Mineola; James Gentry, Crandall; Roger Gonzalez, Palestine; Tyler Hannan, Tyler; Aiden Hannawald, Wills Point; Sebastian Hernandez, Marshal; Collin Hill, Lindale; Samuel Hooker, Jacksonville; Anna Hudson, Canton; Maya Huffman, Gladewater; Callie Hyde, Canton; Bryce Jackson, Spring; Nicole Jensen, Fort Worth; David Landrum, Canton; Leighann Langston, Bullard; Olivia Lester, The Colony; Linzy Manis, Carrollton; Cameron Miller, Tyler; Sydney Moseley, Frankston; Harvey Nguyen, White House; Richard Nolen, Frankston; Jillian Nutt, Mesquite; John Park, Lindale; Mariah Parnell, Tyler; Curt Pearson, Tyler; Joshua Plunkett, Gilmer; Rayann Rowland, Quitman; Isaac Sanders, Bullard; Jett Schnackenberg, Mansfield; Justin Shaw, Weatherford; Mitchell Shulka, Fort Worth; Grace Stanley, Bullard; Chris Stewart, Henderson; Lauren Taylor, Pineland; Dominic Theriot, Forney; Andrew Thompson, Sumner; Adam Tudor, Crandall; Megan Wansley, White House; Bree Williams, Mineola; and Jada Williams, Mesquite.