Representatives from the TSU music department carried Tiger Pride to Atlanta at the 10th anniversary convention of the Historical Black Colleges and Universities National Band Directors Consortium (www.hbcu-nbdc.org). While everyone is familiar with outstanding HBCU marching bands, this annual convention gathers the best student musicians and their teachers together to make music of a different kind. Students audition for placement in one of two all-star concert bands and the all-star jazz big band. Of the six students who represented TSU, four (Darius Davis, French horn; Calisia Dillard, alto saxophone; Miguel Garcia, flute; and Kevin D. Lee, percussion) made the top concert group. Al Alexander made the jazz ensemble, which only accepted 18 students. The rigorous auditions were conducted by members of the Washington, DC based “Pershing’s Own” Army band (the only exception were percussion auditions, conducted by TSU associate director of bands Darryl M. Singleton). These world-class musicians recognized TSU talent as they awarded Miguel and Darius the “first chair first” position in the top concert group for flute and French horn, respectively. Al Alexander was given the critical lead trumpet spot in the jazz band. The lead trumpet player is responsible for setting the shape of how the band plays. Professor Singleton also designed and facilitated both a student clinic and a director’s clinic. Additionally, he served as master of ceremonies for the chamber ensemble concert. That concert showcased small ensembles of homogenous instruments (percussion, euphonium and tuba, saxophone, etc.), formed to allow more concentrated, instrument specific, experiences. In these ensembles Calisia Dillard (saxophone) sat first chair and Tyreke Cooper (tuba) was featured as one of the soloists.
“Maestro” Benjamin J. Butler, II (creator of the “Ocean of Soul”), a previous honoree at this event, brought his Gulf Coast Community Concert Band to help the HBCU-NBDC celebrate its 10th anniversary convention. The band received a standing ovation after a challenging and emotionally-charged program. Gulf Coast band members mostly have professions in fields other than music, like euphonium soloist Dr. Grady Hallman, who is a cardiovascular surgeon! Students Tyreke Cooper, Miguel Garcia, and Kevin D. Lee also played with the Gulf Coast band, as did professor Singleton who was featured as xylophone soloist. The “Ocean of Soul” is just one facet of the well-rounded music program at Texas Southern University.