Several Odessa College students have earned all-state symphonic honors from the Texas Community College Band Directors Association.
They include percussionists and brothers Aaron and Andrew Gonzales, trombonist Josh Vesper and trumpet player Denise Enriquez.
Chair of Visual and Performing Arts Eric Baker said the TCCBDA every year hosts two ensembles — a concert and a jazz band. Community college students from across the state audition and the top students are chosen to attend the convention, which coincides with the Texas Music Educators Association convention in San Antonio.
The TCCBDA brings in guest clinicians from various universities in Texas. The jazz band director teaches at the University of North Texas and the band director is at University of Texas at Arlington.
Baker said OC has sent four students to the event for the last several years.
Students audition via audio recording and there is a live audition for the final order, where everyone gets together except percussion, Baker said.
“The competition is pretty tough. Since I work here, I also sit on the judging panel for trumpets so I actually get the chance to listen to all the taped submissions for trumpets across the state and they’re all really good. It’s very difficult to make some of those decisions, so we put together a little panel of other local trumpet teachers that listens to all the tapes. We decide who can make it,” Baker said.
One of the main benefits of having all-state students is that Baker said he knows he has top musicians, but he wants everyone else to know it, too.
“One of the most important things out here in West Texas, where we can feel very isolated, is to let these students get a chance to go play with other young men and women who are pursuing this with the same passion that they are,” Baker said.
“Anytime you play with people who are at a higher level, maybe even better than you, you always get better so any chance we can get our students to go out and play with some of the other best players in the state, hopefully is a very good experience for them,” Baker said.
Aaron Gonzales said he and Andrew grew up in a house of percussionists. They both went to Permian High School.
He had been to state before, but it was the first time his brother had gone and he wanted him to have that experience.
Andrew said it was great to go to the state convention because everyone knew the music so well.
Vesper went to Lee High School in Midland and Enriquez graduated from Odessa High School.
“It was great,” Vesper said. “I really liked our clinician. It’s a good experience to be around other musicians, plus there aren’t a lot of places I can go where I can try out all my instruments. I met a lot of cool people. It’s definitely a good experience for networking, which is essential in this career path. I’m definitely going to try again next year.”
Enriquez said it was her first time at the convention, as well.
“I thought it was an amazing experience. I’m glad I got to be a part of something like that, and it’s just like Josh said, it’s a very good way to network with other people because I did meet a lot of other trumpet players around the state. I still keep in touch with some of them,” she said.
Enriquez said she didn’t so much choose the trumpet as it chose her.
“I didn’t even want to be in band at first. I just wanted to do sports,” she said.
She tried different mouth pieces and had to try out for percussion, but didn’t. She tried a coronet mouthpiece and was told she sounded good, so she found the trumpet, and now she loves it.
Vesper said he was kind of in the same boat as Enriquez. He didn’t want to be in band, but his parents told him in junior high that he was going to have to join band, orchestra or choir.
He said he “pretty much had to do band because I didn’t want to sing and I thought string instruments were dumb.”
When Vesper was in seventh grade and picking an instrument, he really wanted to try trumpet, but he couldn’t make a sound. His father had played trombone in high school, so Vesper tried it. It was the only one he could make a sound with.
“At first I was like, ‘I do not want to be here doing this.’ Then over time, it just built up into a passion and now I probably love it more than anything else in life. I want to teach trombone collegiately,” he added.
Odessa College music students Denise Enriquez, Josh Vesper and brothers Aaron and Andrew Gonzales earned all-state symphonic honors from the Texas Community College Band Directors Association.