Half a century of music and memories filled First United Methodist Church Monday to celebrate Tech’s University Brass Choir.
Dr. Gary Barrow, professor of music, put together the 50th anniversary concert for Tech’s brass choir. Barrow directed several pieces that were meaningful to the histories ensemble, one of which was “The Brass Square” by Earl Zindars.
The piece was performed during a program by Robert Bright’s brass choir in 1967 when the choir attended the Music Educators National Conference after being invited to perform in Colorado Springs. Bright founded the brass choir during his third year in the 1960s.
Former student, Dr. Lester Monts said, “I’ve never had a better teacher.”
Monts, a distinguished alumnus, was the first African American to live on campus and enroll in the music department in the 1970s. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he moved on to the University of Nebraska where he earned his master’s in music. He didn’t stop there. In 1980, Monts earned his doctorate at the University of Minnesota. As an accomplished orchestral trumpeter he influenced director Steven Spielberg with music for the movie “Amistad.”
Today, Monts is the vice president for Academic Affairs and a professor of music at the University of Michigan. In May 2010, Monts received the highest honor available at Tech, as he was inducted in the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction.
Andy Anders, former Tech conductor, along with Barrow and Bright, conducted parts of Sunday’s performance. Over 50 members of an alumni ensemble performed “Voluntary on Old 100th” as well.
Anders attended Tech from 1962-67 double majoring in math and music. “I liked math, but I loved the tuba,” Anders said. He didn’t always play the tuba. Anders started on a third hand clarinet from World War II. When the band needed a tuba player, he raised his hand in class to accept the position.
Today, the music department serves nearly 170 music majors and has gained state and regional recognition over the years. It is believed that without Bright, Anders and Barrow this couldn’t have been achieved.