SFA University

Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host the monthly Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series at 7 p.m. April 14 in the Pineywoods Native Plant Center. Guest speaker Dr. Mengmeng Gu, professor and ornamental extension specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in College Station, will present “Do We Need to Be Scared of Crape Myrtle Bark Scale?”

March 29, 2022 — Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens will host the monthly Les and Theresa Reeves Lecture Series at 7 p.m. April 14 in the Brundrett Conservation Education Building at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, located at 2900 Raguet St.

Dr. Mengmeng Gu, professor and ornamental extension specialist in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in College Station, will present “Do We Need to Be Scared of Crape Myrtle Bark Scale?”

A relatively new exotic scale pest, bark scale is threatening the utility and aesthetics of crape myrtles in the urban landscapes of Texas and surrounding states. Gu, who leads the multidisciplinary, multistate effort to manage this type of bark scale, will present a brief history of the pest in Texas and surrounding areas, as well as discuss its symptoms, life cycle and extermination.

Gu earned her doctorate in plant sciences and horticulture from the University of Arkansas and worked as an assistant professor at Mississippi State University before moving to Texas in 2012. The liaison between the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, Gu serves on the TNLA Education Committee and the Parks and Patio Task Force. In addition to crape myrtle bark scale, her research interests include sustainable practices in horticulture production and landscapes, such as container substrate research.

The Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series is held the second Thursday of each month. It is preceded by an attendee social at 6:30 p.m., and a rare plant raffle will follow the program. The lecture is free and open to the public, but donations to the Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series fund are always appreciated.

Parking is available at the PNPC and Raguet Elementary School, located at 2428 Raguet St.

For more information, call (936) 468-4129 or email sfagardens@sfasu.edu.

March 22, 2022 – The Swingin’ Axes and Swingin’ Aces jazz bands at Stephen F. Austin State University will present their “Swingin’ At The Brewery” fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 1, at Fredonia Brewery in downtown Nacogdoches.

Admission to the outdoor concert is free, but donations are encouraged to benefit the SFA School of Music’s jazz program, according to Dr. Deb Scott, professor of trombone and director of jazz.

​“SFA Jazz has always enjoyed widespread community support, which has been essential to our program,” Scott said. “We are fortunate to have the Fredonia Brewery continuing to host us; we are very grateful.”

The Swingin’ Axes will perform Radio Head’s “Knives Out," Count Basie’s “Sweet Georgia Brown” and Dan Gailey’s “Big Al Meets the Barnyard Gals,” among other jazz favorites.

The Swingin’ Aces, directed by Dr. J.D. Salas, will play some standard selections from the swing era in addition to a few rock selections from the group Steely Dan.

Shali’s Indian Kitchen on Wheels will be on site, and the brewery’s Rebellion Pizza will be open. SFA Jazz T-shirts and other merchandise will be available for purchase.

Proceeds from the concert will help fund travel costs for both the Axes and Aces when they perform at the Wichita Jazz Festival in Kansas on April 22. The jazz bands will return home on April 23 to present the same concert at 7:30 that night in Cole Concert Hall.

The Fredonia Brewery is located at 138 N. Mound St. For additional information, call the SFA School of Music at (936) 468-4602 or the brewery at (936) 305-5125.

March 22, 2022 — Stephen F. Austin State University has been named the No. 1 Texas university of its size as a rural-serving institution.

The Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges awarded the designation to SFA, also placing it No. 11 nationally.

“Thriving rural regions require high-capacity, place-based anchor institutions,” said Jerry Kenney, program officer for education and economic opportunity for the T.L.L. Temple Foundation. “A quick glance on a map reveals the importance of SFA as the only major university located in our multi-county Deep East Texas region, an expansive, overwhelmingly rural geography.”

Kenney continues saying that “as the source of a cutting-edge rural workforce, the hub for rural innovation, and the place for pursuing big rural ideas and opportunities, a thriving East Texas, now and in the future, requires a dynamic SFA that embraces its role as a rural-serving institution.”

According to ARRC’s groundbreaking research, the research findings emphasize the important role RSIs play in providing college access to marginalized populations and underserved communities.

“RSIs are important educational access points for low-income students, adult learners, and those from marginalized racial backgrounds, and they are critical to regional economic development, as many RSIs are the largest employer in their region,” said Dr. Andrew Koricich, the project’s principal investigator and ARRC’s executive director.

While SFA serves its rural students and the surrounding rural area, Karyn Hall, SFA’s director of institutional research, maintained that the university balances serving this rural area while simultaneously serving students from metro areas.

“We’re a hybrid institution in that 90% of our students report residency within 200 miles of the university and 40% report proximity within a 100-mile radius of campus,” Hall said. “Around 50% of SFA students come from the Dallas and Houston areas and about 38% come from the East Texas area. We are rural-serving, diverse and hybrid.”

By supporting its service area in this way, SFA also is contributing to 60x30TX, a strategic plan by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board with several goals, Hall said. The plan seeks to ensure that 60% of Texans between the ages of 25 and 34 have a degree or certificate by 2030.

Its other goals include having at least 555,000 students complete a certificate or an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree from a higher education institution in Texas before 2030, graduating with marketable skills and low student debt. Paired with SFA’s unique tuition rate plans and 15 to Finish initiative, which help students stay on track to graduate with less debt, the rural-serving designation is further proof of SFA’s commitment to accessible education.

“We have an expectation that we serve our region,” Hall said. “The fact that we have this national acknowledgment is really important.”

By serving the student population as a whole as well as the surrounding area, SFA is poised to continue helping the region grow and continue to develop.

Publishing their findings in an online data tool, the ARRC used five factors to score institutions during their years-long effort to identify rural-serving institutions:

  • percent of institution’s home county population classified as rural
  • average percent of adjacent counties’ population classified as rural
  • population size of institution’s home county
  • institution’s home county adjacency to a metro area
  • and percent of institution’s total awards conferred in agriculture, natural resources, and parks and recreation.

ARRC is a research collaborative and resource hub with the mission of increasing appreciation for and understanding of regional colleges and their contributions to opportunity and community wellbeing. Learn more at regionalcolleges.org.

The Lumi Trio features Ruby Chia-Yun Yeh, clarinet; Dr. Minhae Lee, piano; and Daniela Diaz, violin.

March 4, 2022 – The Lumi Trio will present a program of works by living composers when the ensemble performs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, in Cole Concert Hall on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University.

The trio includes Ruby Chia-Yun Yeh, clarinet; Daniela Diaz, violin; and Dr. Minhae Lee, piano. Lee recently joined the faculty of the School of Music at SFA as assistant professor of piano.

Clarinetist Yeh is a D.M.A. candidate at Michigan State University. She is the second prize winner of the International Henri Selmer Paris Clarinet Academy and Competition and the founder of the Lumi Trio in 2017. She holds degree from the National Kaohsiung Normal University, the Taipei National University of the Arts and Boston University.

Violinist Diaz serves as a member of Artistic and Educational Committees of El Sistema, a voluntary music-education program founded in Venezuela that seeks to transform children’s lives through music.

Lumi Trio works to rediscover, program and diffuse the substantial literature commissioned over the past 30 years by the legendary Verdehr Trio. Founded in 2017 and combining three distinctive musical personalities into a unique collective, Lumi Trio exhibits rarely performed 20th and 21st century pieces alongside standard repertoire.

The program includes “Portmanteau” by Stephen Lias, professor of composition at SFA, along with “Pockets of Comfort” by Michael Eaton; “Piezas Luminosas” by Gonzalo Garrido; “Solstices” by David Biedenbender; and “Compass Points” by Ricardo Lorenz.

“We are performing music by living composers, specifically Michael Eaton and Stephen Lias, who wrote music for Lumi Trio in 2021,” Lee said.

Lias’ music is regularly performed throughout the United States and abroad by soloists and ensembles. Since 2009, he has focused increasingly on his work as an adventurer-composer. His passion for wilderness and outdoor pursuits has led to a growing series of works about the national parks of the U.S. He has served as artist-in-residence at Rocky Mountain, Glacier, Denali, Glacier By, and Gates of the Arctic national parks, and has written more than 15 park-related pieces that have been premiered. His orchestral work “All the Songs that Nature Sings” was commissioned by the Boulder Philharmonic with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and performed at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center. He is the founder and leader of the annual "Composing in the Wilderness" field seminar offered by the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. His students have scored films, been commissioned and published, and are the recipients of regional, national and international awards.

Eaton is a young composer earning his bachelor's degree in music composition at Michigan State University. He has written and arranged for fixed media, the concert stage, musicals, commercials, marching band, jazz band and video games. He works to bolster the presence of scoring music for video games in the greater music curriculum by combining his multi-media experiences to teach classes on the subject.

Biedenbender is a composer, conductor, performer, educator and interdisciplinary collaborator. He is associate professor of composition in the College of Music at Michigan State University.

The compositions of Lorenz have garnered praise for their fiery orchestrations and rhythmic vitality as well as for raising awareness about global societal challenges that concern the composer. These impressions have earned him two Latin Grammy Award nominations and multiple commissions. He is professor and chair of the music composition area at Michigan State University

Garrido-Lecca is a composer whose works include compositions for symphonic orchestra, diverse chamber ensembles, electronic media, piano solo and voice. He has also written incidental music for theatre, film, choreographies and video art.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. To purchase tickets, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit finearts.sfasu.edu. For additional information, contact the SFA School of Music at (936) 468-4602.

March 3, 2022 – Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music’s student organization Mu Phi Epsilon has provided a full-semester Music Prep scholarship for student Sabrina Flores. A violinist, Sabrina plans to attend SFA next fall as a music education major. Presenting the donation is Cole Jones, graduate student from Livingston. Organizations or individuals who wish to sponsor scholarships for students may contact Music Preparatory Division Director Alba Madrid at (936) 468-1291 or musicprep@sfasu.edu. For more information about Music Prep, visit sfamusicprep.com.

March 2, 2022 – The Music Preparatory Division at Stephen F. Austin State University, in partnership with the Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau, will host a Music and Arts Festival on Saturday, April 23, in downtown Nacogdoches.

The family friendly outdoor music festival is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and takes place on the downtown square. It will feature student music and dance performances, local artists, exhibit booths, children’s games and more, according to Alba Madrid, director of the Music Prep program in the School of Music.

“This is an effort to unite, support and showcase the fine arts programs in our community,” Madrid said.

Local merchants can be a part of the festival by showcasing their businesses at booth spaces that will be located around the square and along Main Street and/or by donating door prizes to be given away during the festival. Event sponsorships are also available, and local food trucks will be onsite.

Proceeds will help fund, in part, two major projects, including the creation of the Shirley Watterston Piano Lab and the newly established Strings Project, Madrid said.

The Watterston Piano Lab, which will be housed in a renovated garage area at the Prep House, will provide space for SFA Music Prep to deliver affordable group piano instruction to members of the Nacogdoches and East Texas community. Classes will be offered for students of all ages (retirees, adults, teenagers, elementary) and skill levels. In addition to outreach potential, the piano lab program will also provide music majors internship opportunities to gain valuable teaching experience in conjunction with their piano pedagogy classes, and it will allow Music Prep to expand class offerings such as Kindermusik and choral programs.

“These supervised teaching opportunities fit the university's strategic plan by being a recruiting tool for college music majors seeking these types of transformative experiences as part of their academic and practical studies at SFA,” Madrid said.

Strings Project classes provide practical hands-on training for undergraduate string education majors during their college years and give children from the community the opportunity to study a stringed instrument in a group setting. Classes are offered for elementary, middle and high school students after school.

Deadline to register for festival booth spaces is March 23. For more information about sponsorships, or to register for a booth, contact Madrid at (936) 468-1291 or musicprep@sfasu.edu. For more information about Music Prep, visit sfamusicprep.com.

February 24, 2022 — Stephen F. Austin State University has announced the recipients of its inaugural Center for Applied Research and Rural Innovations grants.

The CARRI grants were created in fall 2021 as part of SFA’s infrastructure fostering innovation and entrepreneurship activity leading to a more robust and vibrant economy in SFA’s 12-county region.

“While the recipients' academic pursuits vary, they share in common the strong desire to make the world a better place through their scholarly activity,” said Dr. Lorenzo Smith, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The CARRI grants are particularly significant because they are surgically directed toward local problems in need of local solutions. Yet, while their proposed work has a Deep East Texas focus, it is transferable to national and, in some cases, international areas of scholarly investigations. This is what makes their proposed work so impressive.”

Of the 16 proposals submitted, the CARRI Steering Committee selected 10 proposals with monies totaling slightly over $256,000. Grant recipients and their research are as follows:

Dr. Gina Fe Causin — School of Human Sciences, James I. Perkins College of Education - $20,609.44

Deep East Texas Travel and Tourism Collaborative

The COVID-19 pandemic created havoc for small businesses, which caused them to shut down and cease all economic activities, particularly in rural areas. This project will revitalize economic activities in the Deep East Texas rural communities by helping revive travel- and tourism-oriented small businesses through development of new travel packages to promote to external guests to the region. It also will improve existing travel and tourism practices and services, or strengthen and diversify the regional economy of the El Camino Real trail and routes.

Dr. Bill Forbes — Department of Anthropology, Geography and Sociology, College of Liberal and Applied Arts - $4,590

Fostering Renewable Energy Access, Efficiency, and Entrepreneurship in Deep East Texas

This project will work with regional programs to increase access, efficiency and entrepreneurship related to clean energy and energy conservation in Deep East Texas. Six graduate and undergraduate students will work with one to two faculty members and select community leaders to increase access and use of a weatherization program for low-income residents; have clean energy financing programs and a microloan small business program adopted by the Deep East Texas Council of Governments, counties or cities in the region; and create linkages between solar panel installers, weatherization contractors and students/workforce members interested in training in this field.

Dr. Jane Long — Department of Mathematics and Statistics, College of Sciences and Mathematics; JacksTeach director - $23,672

Laboratory Science Enrichment for Secondary Teachers of Deep East Texas

This project focuses on enhancing student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields through two weeklong workshops training secondary teachers to incorporate engaging, hands-on laboratory experiences in their classrooms. We will directly support teachers by providing hands-on experience with laboratory exploration activities, funding to support their participation, laboratory supplies specific to workshop activities and Continuing Professional Education credits. These efforts will expand student interest in postsecondary STEM study, prepare students for success in STEM careers, and support economic development in the Deep East Texas region by contributing to the workforce of highly trained STEM professionals.

Dr. Dan Bruton — Department of Physics, Engineering and Astronomy, College of Sciences and Mathematics - $17,363

Rural Mobility: Engineering Design of Durable Off-Road Vehicles

The primary goal of this project is to involve undergraduate engineering students in the design and construction of a small vehicle that meets design constraints set by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The SAE Baja competition requires collegiate teams to design and construct a lightweight, off-road vehicle over the course of two semesters.  The engineering faculty at SFA will select approximately 20 students interested in mechanical or electrical engineering for the first cohort for this competition. This project should result in students receiving certification through the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as connections to local employers seeking engineers with practical design and manufacturing experiences.

Dr. Alyx Frantzen — Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Sciences and Mathematics - $35,000

SFASU Fermentation Laboratory

The number of craft breweries and wineries in Texas has risen exponentially during the last decade to more than 430 wineries and over 300 breweries. While shown to be robust industries, they have been impacted by the pandemic as most rely on restaurant and bar sales, taprooms and tasting rooms. These industries are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Both industries are required to follow mandatory labeling requirements and procedures. Much of what is found on the label is determined by beverage alcohol laboratories. The cost of testing is quite expensive; a total chemical profile for a single beer is $350 and for a single wine $175. The development of a Fermentation Laboratory at SFA can help alleviate these costs.

Sally Ann Swearingen — School of Human Sciences, Perkins College of Education - $51,218.75

Students in Action – Building communities one building at a time with “Building Jacks”

Construction management students will build tiny homes for individuals and families in need of shelter. Students will gain a greater understanding of the field while applying lessons learned in the classroom to real life projects using a unique mobile classroom. The goal is to teach and train leaders and managers in the field through hands-on projects. Construction management labs are set up to give large blocks of times to ensure students understand construction and have an opportunity to meet and get to know their clients. This innovative mobile classroom will change how construction management is being taught and provide numerous opportunities for students and clients throughout East Texas.

Dr. Sarah Straub — Department of Education Studies, Perkins College of Education - $21,900.50

Leadership Initiative for Supporting (Bilingual) Teacher Acquisition

The Leadership Initiative for Supporting (Bilingual) Teacher Acquisition is the first step in a multi-year effort to empower district bilingual coordinators across East Texas, increase the number of qualified bilingual teachers, and create a pipeline through undergraduate and graduate programs to support this growth. LISTA will work to develop a community of united and informed bilingual coordinators who will, in turn, develop a pathway for success for future bilingual educators. LISTA aligns with this mission through an investment in the quality of bilingual coordinators and future educators. Phase one will focus on needs assessments, community building and planning. Future phases will result in a successful bilingual educator pipeline.

Dr. Pamela Rogers — Department of Management and Marketing, Rusche College of Business - $8,870

Training for Manufacturing Supervisors

The purpose of this proposal is to develop a manufacturing supervisor training that could be offered through the Center for Applied Research and Rural Innovation in cooperation with the East Texas Manufacturing Alliance. Participants would be new or aspiring front-line supervisors in local manufacturing organizations.

Dr. Mary Olle — School of Human Sciences, Perkins College of Education - $34,319

A Needs Assessment of Competencies for the Restaurant Industry in Deep East Texas

SFA is seeking support for a needs assessment of competencies that will inform the development of a Bachelor of Science in hospitality administration with a focus in restaurant management. This degree program seeks to reach Texans ages 25 to 34 who have some coursework toward a degree or certificate but have not competed the degree. This program focuses on competencies and marketable skills that will prepare students to enter the workforce at a managerial level. By conducting a needs assessment, we will be able to more accurately develop a CBE program that is meeting the needs of employers in East Texas.

Dr. Anusha Shrestha — Forestry and Spatial Science, Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture - $38,697

Logging sector in Deep East Texas: Current status, issues, and future outlook

The purpose of this study will be to determine the current status of the logging sector and its economic contribution by surveying logging contractors and other industry stakeholders, and employing an economic model using IMPLAN data. The results from this study will be crucial to identify concerns and needs of the logging sector. Enhancement of this sector will ensure a continued supply of wood products to the forest products manufacturing facilities, better logging practices on forest stands ensuring appropriate management and protection of forest health, and continued employment and income for people in the region. In this project, students will learn various research methodologies and analyses and will collaborate with various forestry stakeholders.

On the eve of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s centennial, three Stephen F. Austin State University graduate students, accompanied by a team of undergraduate research assistants, are traveling the state to collect visitor data at 64 of Texas’ 90 state parks. This information, accompanied by a more in-depth electronic visitor survey, will provide the agency with a better perspective of visitor demographics and recreational trends, as well as how the agency can best serve the public moving forward. Pictured left to right are SFA students Amy Garcia, Jacie Anderson, Alexandria Castro, Olivia Perkins, Rachel Bjerkaas and Neptune Gainer.

February 17, 2022 — Each year, more than 8 million people visit the 90 state parks, historic sites and natural areas managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In order to continue to meet the needs of visitors and offer relevant programming that reaches all Texans, the agency seeks to better understand exactly who these guests are and what motivates them to visit. Three Stephen F. Austin State University graduate students are crisscrossing the state to find out.

“We are collecting information regarding visitor use in roughly two-thirds of the parks throughout the state,” said Mark Risinger, Master of Science in resource communications student. “This includes demographics, frequency of use and activities the visitors pursued during their stay.”

In December, Rachel Bjerkaas, also a resource communications graduate student, led a group of undergraduate research assistants to West Texas where they conducted surveys at Franklin Mountains, Davis Mountains, Balmorhea and Monahans Sandhills state parks. While some of the survey data, such as visitor count and documented recreational activities, is collected without directly interacting with park patrons, further information regarding park use and visitor perceptions is gleaned through direct conversations.

“Speaking with visitors is one of my favorite parts of this project,” Bjerkaas said. “I love listening to them and understanding what some of their most memorable experiences are.”

Bjerkaas, who earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental science from SFA, said this is one of the very reasons she chose to pursue a graduate degree.

“I wanted the opportunity to help others understand the importance of nature and environmental issues,” Bjerkaas said. “Pursuing a graduate degree in resource communications allows me to spend my time working with people in the beautiful outdoor places around us.”

As most Texans can attest, seasonality greatly affects which parks are visited and the activities guests enjoy. For example, during the summer, Texas state park patrons are often advised to avoid hiking during certain hours due to the threat of heat exhaustion. Conversely, many visitors flock to Texas to escape harsh winters.

“South Texas parks will see a number of snowbirds that visit during the winter,” said Cam Rojas, resource communications graduate student. “In order to quantify the seasonality change of parks, we’ll survey 30 select parks over summer, fall and spring.”

Following these in-park surveys, a second, more comprehensive online survey will be distributed to individuals present on the Texas State Parks’ email list.

While the subsequent results of these surveys are invaluable for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Dr. Pat Stephens Williams, SFA professor of human dimensions of natural resources and project advisor, feels that the student growth taking place is the true asset.

“As we have progressed, we have recognized the individual strengths of each graduate student as they coordinate and lead the teams in data collection,” Stephens Williams said. “Some of the undergraduate students have absolutely blossomed in the field, and it has shown us how we can help improve and guide students in the future.”

In addition to supporting student growth, Stephens Williams notes that the project illustrates the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. Dr. Ray Darville, chair of SFA’s Department of Anthropology, Geography and Sociology, serves as co-principal investigator for this and other research projects within the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture.  

This undertaking precedes the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and it reflects the agencies dedication to serving all Texans.

“We’re always trying to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment, so having a strong understanding of our visitors, their backgrounds and their needs helps turn us into a stronger organization with better programming,” said David Kurtenbach, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department program director for business management. “We say it all the time — Texas State Parks are for everyone, and we want to create the type of environment where everyone feels that parks are a part of their life.”

Story by Sarah Fuller, outreach coordinator for Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture. Contact information: (936) 468-1185 or fullersa@sfasu.edu.

February 15, 2022 – The Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre’s presentation of  the student-directed one-act play “In Shakespeare and the Bible,” originally slated for Feb. 4 and 5, has been rescheduled for March 18 and 19.

The play had to be rescheduled due to the campus closure on Feb. 4 in expectation of inclement weather.

Thornton Wilder’s “In Shakespeare and the Bible” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 18, and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 19, in Regents Suite A in the Baker Pattillo Student Center on the SFA campus.

Tickets are $4. To purchase tickets, visit the SFA Fine Arts Box Office online at boxoffice.sfasu.edu or call (936) 468-6407. Advanced sales end at 3 p.m. on March 18. Available tickets may be purchased at the door.

Tickets already purchased for one of the Feb. 4-5 performances will be transferred to the new performance dates. Tickets may be switched to a different day or time, a different event, or be refunded. Contact the Fine Arts Box Office for details.

For more information about the play, call the School of Theatre at (936) 468-4003 or visit theatre.sfasu.edu.

The SFA Percussion Ensemble will present its TMEA concert program in a preview performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.
(Click image for larger version.)

January 25, 2022 - The Percussion Ensemble at Stephen F. Austin State University has been invited to perform at this year’s Texas Music Educators Association convention slated for Feb. 9 through 12 in San Antonio. Representing more than 17,000 current and future music educator members, TMEA works to support the future of music education in Texas.

The ensemble’s TMEA program will be presented in a preview concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus. The recital features works by Joe W. Moore, Francisco Perez, Andrea Venet and Andy Akiho. The Percussion Ensemble is directed by Dr. Brad Meyer, director of percussion studies at SFA, with Dr. Jamie Vilseck, the ensemble’s coach.

Written in 2018, Moore’s “Ojo” was inspired by Latin folklore with a goal of keeping the audience engaged with quick passages, rhythmic variety, timbre changes, and movements transitioning between instruments, giving the performers "ojo" (meaning “evil eye”) because “there is no other option but to watch and listen intently,” according to Moore.

“Ephemera” was inspired by the Lamar University students of Perez during the past two years of the pandemic. “After almost two years without composing any original music for percussion, witnessing the grit and hard work from my students at Lamar University over the course of the eventful 2020-2021 year inspired me to write this short but deeply meaningful piece for mallet sextet,” he wrote.

Venet’s “Omnes Trio,” Latin for “Trio for All,” was written as an expression to promote equality within the percussion field, according to the composer. “With homogeneous instrumentation and a shared set-up, the piece is characterized by hocketed rhythmic lines, trading grooves between players, and soloistic passages that create rapidly flowing textures and quasi-melodic lines,” Venet wrote.

Akiho’s “to wALk Or ruN in wEst harlem” was originally written for chamber ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, vibes and drums) and premiered at the 2008 Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival. Akiho said 2008 was one of the most influential and fortunate years of his life, but it began “hilariously tumultuous.”

“Within the span of 48 hours, I carelessly threw myself into multiple ridiculously unfortunate New York City situations – illegally parking my car under a suspicious overpass only to find it completely trashed and inoperable after being broken into; nearly slicing my thumb off cutting carrots with an ironically dull knife; and being attacked and stabbed by a gang while cluelessly walking home from the Manhattan School of Music after a late-night practice session,” he wrote. “This seven-minute composition depicts that particular evening expressed as a nonlinear soundtrack: escaping the attack, following the perpetrators in a taxi, trying to convince the apathetic cops to help me find the suspects, and the hospital monitor beeps of the emergency room are some of the themes in the music narration. Balancing out the NYC karma later that year, I found an old upright piano on the same corner where I was attacked. With the help of a friendly bystander, I pushed the piano up the hill to my apartment and composed this piece on it.”

Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. To purchase tickets, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit finearts.sfasu.edu. For additional information, contact the SFA School of Music at (936) 468-4602.