State of the OU Bands, Summer 2013

There are lots of changes going on in the University Band department, so Dr. Wakefield has written a three-page letter to all band alumni updating us on what’s going on.

Click here to download Dr. Wakefield’s letter in beautiful PDF format.

If you’d rather read text, join me after the jump.

The text of the letter:

June 27, 2013

Dear Band Alumni,

As I look back to August 2012, there is much to report on developments in the OU Band program during the past year!

At the end of January 2013, students, faculty, and friends honored Mr. Britt in a farewell reception that announced a new Brian A. Britt endowed scholarship established by friends and students to support future Pride students with strong leadership qualities. As most of you know by now, Brian Britt is well into his new administrative career as Director of Fine Arts with the Richardson Independent School District, in north Dallas. Brian Britt, his wife Alicia and daughter Avery have fully relocated to North Dallas to begin an exciting new phase of their lives in close proximity to Alicia’s parents in North Dallas. We were fortunate to have Mr. Britt’s strong leadership and vision for the Pride while developing logistical organizational procedures that provided a solid foundation for the future.

In October when Brian Britt’s RISD appointment became official, we appointed Dr. Debra Traficante as Interim Director, who capably led our post-Britt transition beginning officially in January and continuing through her successful leadership of our band staff in hosting the CBDNA National Athletic Band Symposium, May 30-June 1. Symposium participants from all over the country experienced the Oklahoma “Adventure Package” with taking protection in tornado safe shelters two times during the meetings. For 6 years—the first two in residence for her DMA conducting degree—Dr. Traficante has been a bright shining light in the OU Band Department, meeting every challenge and responsibility with poise, dedication, and thorough preparation. There is no doubt she is headed for a distinguished career that will positively impact the lives and careers of many in a higher education band position.

Following a six-month search process, Dr. Justin Stolarik, Assistant Director of Bands with the University of Wisconsin, was named Director of the Pride of Oklahoma. Dr. Stolarik brings his BME educational background from the University of Florida with masters and doctoral degrees in percussion performance from the University of Texas at Austin. He was assistant Director of Bands at Henderson State University in Arkansas one year before his appointment at the University of Wisconsin.

I am eager to see what enhancements Dr. Stolarik unveils as new Director of the Pride of Oklahoma. As one reflects on the 108 years of the Pride of Oklahoma, each era has enjoyed distinctive features associated with a director’s vision. In conversations with Dr. Stolarik, I am pleased with our new director’s thoughtful consideration of new ideas amidst a respect for the traditions of the Pride of Oklahoma. Dr. Stolarik’ s vision is to develop the entertainment potential of the band while retaining its strong reputation for unrelenting support of the Sooners. Pride members will continue to exhibit the highest ideals of sportsmanship while representing OU as the largest student ambassador group on campus. Dr. Stolarik will conduct the Concert Band during the spring term and also teach marching band techniques for instrumental music education majors. Additionally, he will provide vision for the Sooner basketball band program.

I am pleased to report further significant progress in the band program infrastructure. School of Music Director Dr. Larry Mallett, Dean of the Weitzenhoffer College of Fine Arts, Rich Taylor, and President David L. Boren approved a personnel proposal for funding to increase our band faculty with a full-time Assistant Director of Athletic Bands and part-time positions of Logistics Coordinator (Mr. Tom Gibson) and Color Guard Coordinator (Ms. Caitlin Collett). “Soon to be” Dr. Brian Wolfe will fill the new band faculty position as Interim Assistant Director of Athletic Bands. Further change has band percussion coordinator, Glen Buecker, now focusing his energies on athletic and concert band percussion, technology, and music education while lending some technology support for the School of Music.

Dr. Debra Traficante continues her appointment as Assistant Director of Bands in a shifting role with primary responsibility for the developing the OU Symphony Band, assisting the teaching of conducting in the MME Conducting emphasis program, and playing a key role in the undergraduate music education curricular sequence in conducting and methods. We are most fortunate that Dr. Traficante’s impact on developing and recruiting talent will continue to be a pillar in the program.

Michelle Burke, completing her 3rd year as Administrative Assistant for the OU Bands, continues to exceed expectations with her management and accounting skills as well as logistical planning for meals, travel, and lodging. Her expertise in feeding and caring for the troops allows the organization do our best work in what is often an intense performance schedule. Spending time with 300 hungry and tired friends is a place we wish to never be!

DMA Graduate Conducting Associate Eric Shannon, who was a former drum major of the Pride of Oklahoma, Director of the Tulsa Memorial High School Band, and who also holds the MM Conducting degree from the University of Houston continues as a graduate teaching associate. New to the DMA conducting program is Sean Patrick Kelly from Dayton, Ohio. Sean completed his MM Conducting degree with OU DMA graduate Dr. David Booth, my first DMA recipient at OU, who is Director of Bands at Wright State University. Sean brings a wealth of successful teaching experience in Ohio and educational background from Wright State University and the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. OU MM Percussion candidate Brian Teed from The Woodlands in Houston, Texas, and new MM Percussion major, Shane Holmquist from South Dakota State University, will assist Glen Bucker with the OU Drumline. Teed holds a BME from the University of Oklahoma and Holmquist comes from the percussion studio of former OU graduate, Aaron Ragsdale at SDSU.

A final salute to talented twirler, Megan McGreary, whose flair for entertaining Sooner fans will remain in our hearts for many years. Also, kudos for the energetic and mature leadership of Drum Major Zach Hedrick, who is now pursuing a career in broadcast journalism. Fortunately for us, we have two new talented replacements who will make meaningful impact as future leaders. New Pride drum major is junior music education major and tu bi st, Logan Stalcup from Celina, Texas. Feature twirler is Sarah Harris, who comes from Knoxville, Tennessee,. by way of transferring from the University of Alabama. Sarah’s dream to be feature twirler at the University of Oklahoma was fulfilled following her fabulous audition for the open position in May. She and her family look forward to being part of the Sooner family!

The Fall 2013 season will be marked by the full Pride of Oklahoma flying to South Bend, Indiana, to lead the Sooner faithful for our September 28 game versus the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Pride is also scheduled to perform on Friday night, September 27, at the Warsaw, Indiana, High School football game. Warsaw School officials have graciously stepped forward to host our Indiana appearance with generous hospitality. Of course, the full band will again travel to Dallas and Stillwater for rival gridiron competitions with the Texas Longhorns and the OSU Cowboys.

Finally, we have exciting news to report on the Pride practice field facility. Due to a grant from the Rapp Foundation with the assistance of OU Development officer and band alum, Karen Renfro, the Pride practice field between Asp and Jenkins streets will have its own lighting system before the onset of daylight savings time change. No longer will Pride rehearsals extend into a dark practice field!

It has only been a few weeks since tragic natural disasters impacting the precious lives of our in-state neighbors in Moore, Shawnee, El Reno and OKC metro area. The Sooner family has responded to the human needs created by this sudden disaster. The challenges we face in transitioning leadership with the Pride pales in comparison. We are most grateful to have the opportunity to be part of positive learning experiences for college students who enter one of the most important formative times in their developing lives.

Whether participating at Homecoming with the Alumni Band (OU vs. TTU on October 26), sending a financial contribution and/or joining the Pride Patron support group ($100 annually), or showing your enthusiasm at performances, we appreciate your continuing support and recognition of the hard-working ambassadors in the Pride of Oklahoma that will soon represent year 109 in our history!

Dr. William K. Wakefield, Director
University of Oklahoma Bands
Head, Division of Instrumental and Applied Ensembles
Irene and Julian J. Rothbaum Presidential Professor of Excellence in Fine Arts