When I stepped onto Kyle Field for the first time as a Fightin’ Texas Aggie Bandsman in the 1990s, I was ready for everything but the noise. We had spent weeks at the E.V. Adams Band Hall drilling and preparing for the moment when Lt. Col. Jay Brewer ’81 would announce our entrance over the PA system. But as loud as the 12th Man seems from the stands, it’s at least twice as loud on the field. After the first notes of the War Hymn rang out, the roar of thousands of Aggies shook the fabric of our uniforms. It took all of my focus to keep my eyes forward, march on beat and pray that everyone shuffling around me did the same.
Today, when I watch a performance by the band or another musical group on campus, I often reflect on the role music plays in making our university special. The songs we sing and play are heirlooms passed down through generations of Aggies and serve as reminders to honor our university’s history. More so than any other medium, music has the unique power to bring past and present together. Its presence in Aggieland is its own tradition—and one well worth preservation.
That’s why I was so proud last week to be part of the grand opening of the new John D. White ’70 – Robert L. Walker ’58 Music Activities Center. I had the honor and privilege of joining Director of Bands Dr. Timothy Rhea, President Michael K. Young, former Texas A&M presidents Dr. Bill Mobley and Dr. Ray Bowen ’58, and Commandant Brig. Gen. Joe Ramirez ’79 in welcoming donors, students and other guests to the new hub for Texas A&M’s esteemed music programs.
For decades, these growing programs were housed in the E.V. Adams Band Hall and other places spread across campus. But thanks to generous private gifts, including a lead $10 million commitment from the Ed Rachal Foundation, more than 1,300 Aggies who are part of Texas A&M’s orchestras, symphonies, jazz ensembles, choral groups and bands are now united under one roof.
These programs can practice and collaborate together in a state-of-the-art, 70,000-square-foot space that rivals the quality of any university music facility in the United States.
If you haven’t ventured over to see the building yet, I highly encourage you to. Walking in, you can’t help but simultaneously feel the storied past of Texas A&M’s music programs and their bright future. Music has always had a special place on campus. Now, it has a home.
Thanks and Gig ’em,
Tyson Voelkel ’96
President, Texas A&M Foundation