High Notes - Fall 2013
The University of Texas at Brownsville Department of Music Newsletter
From the Department Chair
On behalf of the entire Department of Music faculty and staff at The University of Texas at Brownsville, welcome to our Newsletter! We are excited to share within this newsletter our accomplishments,
many feature events, and most importantly, how you can be a part of our musical tradition. A common theme you will notice throughout this newsletter is our commitment to student success.
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Our students and faculty perform all over the world and our graduates, through teaching and performing, continue to enrich the musical lives of our communities and beyond.
One of my priorities as the new Chair of the Department of Music is to keep you informed of our happenings. If you are not familiar with us, you will discover that we provide a
valuable resource to all interest levels. Whether your plan is to major in music, continue your music education with a master’s degree, further your passion for learning music through
our Music Academy, or if you are simply a music lover and wish to become a Patron of the Arts member, we are here to serve that role to the highest level.
Under the leadership of our previous chair, Dr. Sue Zanne Urbis, the Department of Music gained unprecedented momentum and established itself as a viable program in south Texas.
The department experienced an enrollment increase from 36 to over 200 music majors, the department was granted accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) in 2007,
and the full time faculty grew to over 20. There are not enough words to describe the amount of dedication and service Dr. Urbis provided to the Department of Music. Thank you, Dr. Urbis!
As we build upon these accomplishments, the landscape of our university and our department will change. Contrary to any rumors that you may have heard, our university and our department are
here to stay. The Texas governor, the legislature, and the UT system have joined forces to create a new university in which we will play a significant role. We will all experience the shaping
of this new university and it is essential that you, our friends and supporters in the community, become a major part of it. Your voice counts. As you get to know our faculty of teachers,
performers, and researchers, you will see why we are moving from a good department to a great one. The mission we are charged with as we shape the new UTB Music Department is both exciting
and important as we look forward to even greater accomplishments for our students.
I invite you to visit our campus and discover the richness of the musical community that we provide. Our students, faculty, and guest artists provide world class performances that are
sure to appeal to everyone. Our faculty is made up of dedicated music educators, and I guarantee that you will experience musical moments with us that will spark your interest in support
of our long history of success and our very bright future.
Dr. Tom Nevill
Chair, Department of Music
UTB Mariachi Returns from Russia
In May 2013, the UTB Mariachi Ocelotetlán, under the direction of Mr. Antonio Briseño went to St. Petersburg, Russia on an invitation by the Herzen State Pedigogical University’ s Music Department.
The group gave a concert at the HSPU recital hall and met several Russian faculty and graduate students after the performance.
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“The audience was immersed in the cultural experience [of the music]: they were dancing and clapping, and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. They got involved.” said Leo Garza,
a violinist and singer for the group. It seems that our Mariachi had as much a cultural impact in St. Petersburg as the city did on them: “Of course, people give you some funny looks when
you’re walking around in bright orange suites. But they were very friendly and welcoming.” The UTB Mariachi brought their traditions to the city-at-large as they surprised the owner of the
only Mexican restaurant in the city with “Las Mañanitas” to celebrate his birthday, much to the delight of the patrons having a meal. The students visited the world-famous Peterhoff fountains,
the Hermitage Museum, and the St. Isaac Cathedral among other sites. Seeing the architecture of the city and touring an environment so different from ours was “a once-in-a-lifetime memory to keep.”
For the video postcard from Russia, visit YouTube here
Ballatori Receives UT system Regents' Teaching Award
Dr. Cristina Ballatori, Assistant Professor of Flute, was selected as a recipient of the 2013 University of Texas System’s Regent’s Outstanding Teaching Award (ROTA). Dr. Ballatori was one of
nine tenure track professors within the UT System selected for this honor, which is offered annually in recognition of faculty members at the nine academic and six UT System health institutions who
have demonstrated extraordinary classroom performance and innovation in undergraduate instruction. Faculty members undergo a series of rigorous evaluations by students, peer faculty and
external reviewers at both the university and system levels. The review panels consider a range of activities and criteria in their evaluations of a candidate's teaching performance, including
classroom expertise, curricula quality, and innovative course development. The Regents' Outstanding Teaching Awards are the UT System Board of Regents' highest honor and Dr. Ballatori is only
the third music professor, and second music professor from UTB, to receive the award.
UTB Study Abroad, in collaboration with the Music Department, is planning the second Study Abroad in Vienna program during May Session of 2014. In this program, music students will travel to
Vienna, Austria, with music professor Dr. Art Brownlow, to learn about the city’s great composers and musicians, visit places where they lived and worked, learn about the culture that produced
such momentous music, and hear concerts and opera performances from some of the greatest musical institutions and venues in the world. This program will be repeated every two years, so that each
UTB music student will have at least two opportunities to travel abroad during their university experience.