Music Program Sounds First Notes At A&M International

The sounds of music will soon be added to course offerings at Texas A&M International University with the development of a University band and chorale club.

Dr. Ray Keck, Chair of the Department of English, Spanish and Fine Arts of the College of Arts and Humanities, said the University's musical offerings have long been awaited and will be open to students and members of the community at large.

"We have long realized that there is a substantial interest in music and its performance here in Laredo. Many of our students were involved in our many excellent high school programs and have been looking for a performance outlet to accompany their University education. We also have a number of former band members throughout our larger community that will be able to participate in this opportunity, as well," Dr. Keck explained.

Participation in the course offering will be by enrollment in Arts 4135: "A Performance Course in Fine Arts." Those who do not wish to enroll in coursework may join the performance groups as members of respective student clubs for both band and chorale. Membership is also open to non-students and members of the community at large.

"While we want to encourage class enrollment, we realize that there are other musicians in our area who may not be able to make a time commitment to a weekly series of classes, but who could share their musical experience through rehearsals and performance as a club member. We also realize that there are many community members who would welcome a performance outlet but are not students and want to encourage their participation, " Keck said.

Keck said the University plans to have both groups take an active role in the University's life and special events and hopes to develop a series of special concerts and presentations to feature the new musical groups.

He said an initial discussion meeting has yielded over 40 students interested in participating in a University band. The University has selected adjunct faculty members who will guide the developing effort.

"We have selected a talented adjunct faculty that will include Elmo Lopez Sr. and Marilyn Brown. Both bring an impressive range of experiences and performance histories that will be beneficial to this developing effort," Keck said.

Lopez, who was a popular band director with the Laredo Independent School District for many years, is well known on both sides of the Rio Grande for his love of music. He has been instrumental in helping many of Laredo's youngsters develop their love for music and its performance.

Brown, an accomplished choir music educator, has been involved in the development of award-winning concert choirs in New York and Kansas. She has performed with the New York-based Chautauqua Chambers Singers and directed a Show Choir in Kansas that toured annually. A skilled piano accompanist, her additional specialty training includes Orff and Kodaly methodologies. Locally, she has performed with the Laredo Philharmonic Chorale.

Preliminary rehearsals for the University band began this week. Rehearsals for the University Chorale will be scheduled after the Thanksgiving break.

Keck said the University is in the process of acquiring instrumentation and is encouraging those who possess instruments to bring them to the planned rehearsals.

"Those who do not have access to instruments will be assisted in locating a source for a temporary instrument until we have secured our planned instrumentation," he noted.

Keck said this initial offering is a first step in a planned for programmatic development that will be housed in the University's Fine Arts Center that is currently under design. Programs are currently being developed and must meet with approval from both The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

For more information on the Texas A&M International University Band or Chorale, please contact Dr. Keck at 956.326.2606.

University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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