UTB Graduate Receives Honor of Joining U.S. Army Band
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JANUARY 6, 2012 – Rick Pedraza rang in the year 2012 with extra clarity, knowing he would soon embark on his new career as a United States Army musician.
Pedraza, a 2009 music education graduate of The University of Texas at Brownsville and a 2001 Rivera High School graduate, is a Brownsville native who has always known music would play an important role in his life.
“In seventh grade I wanted to join the school band,” Pedraza said. “So I signed up, and they handed me a tuba, and that’s been my instrument ever since.”
By the following year, Pedraza set his sights on a career in music, yet always in the back of his mind he had the thought of joining the military. Both of those dreams are soon to be realized, starting in mid-January, when Pedraza heads to U.S. Army basic training in South Carolina.
Being accepted into the Army as a musician requires an audition.
“I had to play selected pieces of different styles as well as demonstrate my sight-reading abilities,” Pedraza said. “I am certain my years of experience playing with the Valley Symphony Orchestra and the South Texas Festival Orchestra really helped in perfecting my skills.”
Pedraza was the only tuba player nationwide to be accepted in the last quarter of 2011.
Aside from the tuba, Pedraza also plays trombone and euphonium, the “low brass” instruments that he taught at San Benito Consolidated Independent School District for a year. Although he enjoyed teaching, Pedraza said he enjoys performing even more.
“Rick was a self-starter with ambition and high expectations,” said Allen Clark, UTB Department of Music low brass instructor and Wind Ensemble Director. “He overcame many obstacles to become the fine player he is today, consistently pushing himself toward innovative and difficult challenges. I have great respect for his abilities.”
Not only does Pedraza play an instrument, but he also is a vocalist. He sang with the UTB Master Chorale while a student and was fortunate to travel and perform with the chorale on its Spring Break trips to Ireland in 2007 and Italy in 2009. He has been further enmeshed in the world of music as the sound technician for the One O’Clock Jazz Band on its trip to Washington, D.C., and as the recording technician who recorded all performances in the Patron of the Arts Series for seven years.
“What a difference it is to be in The Arts Center – both as a performer and in the audience,” Pedraza said. “The acoustics are superb, the sound so rich and pure. I wish this facility had been here when I was a student, but I’m really happy that it’s here now, for the students to have such a beautiful venue to really show off their talent.”
Pedraza is now looking forward, packing his bags but not his tuba. Uncle Sam will provide him with one at the Army School of Music in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he will go for advanced instruction after basic training.
“I’m very excited about beginning this new chapter in my life,” Pedraza said. “This is going to be an exciting journey. I’m looking forward to seeing new places, but more importantly, I’ll be working with some other fine musicians, people with the same passion for music performance that I have.”