TCU Gives Day: Music ensembles travel to perform at prominent conventions


The TCU School of Music is a nationally recognized, award-winning institution that features distinguished faculty and more than 300 talented students pursuing their passions. Among this vibrant community are numerous music ensembles that regularly perform on campus and off. These ensembles are often competitively selected to perform in prestigious venues around the country. Through these performances, student musicians showcase their expertise and develop professionally.

In the 2018-19 academic year, three of these ensembles — the TCU Symphony Orchestra, Wind Symphony and Concert Chorale — were fortunate to travel out of town for prestigious performances, thanks to the gifts of generous TCU donors.

These performance opportunities had immense impact on the music education and career plans for all student participants. Three of their stories are below.

Elijah Ong, a senior piano and violin performance double major from Arlington, Texas, joined nearly 90 peers for a February 2019 performance at the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Annual Clinic & Convention. The TMEA Convention is the largest music conference in the country – and one of the largest in the world — with more 29,000 attendees each year. The TCU Symphony Orchestra was the only university orchestra selected to perform at the 2019 event.

Elijah Ong

“The TMEA convention gave me a newfound appreciation for all that music educators do, the sheer talent that young musicians possess, and for all the people in my life who helped me get this far in my music career. It was also very satisfying to see the preparation of our TCU Symphony Orchestra culminate in a wonderful performance at such an important convention.

Pedagogy is a huge part of my life and what I hope to do in the future, so having the experience to be around all the wonderful minds of music and education at TMEA was a huge inspiration.

I think it’s always exciting when young students come together to share their experiences as talented and passionate musicians, and that’s certainly something that I hope my own students can take part in.” –Elijah Ong

Also in February 2019, the TCU Wind Symphony was competitively selected to perform at the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) National Conference in Tempe, Ariz. Taylor Courtney, a junior instrumental music education major from Carrollton, Texas, performed with approximately 60 fellow student musicians from TCU.

Taylor Courtney

As a whole, this experience benefited the Wind Symphony by giving us national recognition. CBDNA is a conference where many famous, experienced musicians are in attendance. In preparing for CBDNA, our ensemble met for extra rehearsals during which [Wind Symphony director] Mr. Bobby Francis challenged us with new and difficult music.

Being able to travel on charter planes to Tempe and perform our polished music to a musically sophisticated audience was breathtakingly unreal.

I am grateful for so many opportunities for personal and musical growth at TCU, and our performance at the CBDNA convention was just one of the many wonderful opportunities we are blessed with here.

This year, the TCU Wind Symphony has been invited to perform at the 2020 Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Centennial Convention — no doubt due, in part, to our fantastic performance at the CBDNA conference last year.” –Taylor Courtney

Max Navarro, a senior vocal music education major from Waxahachie, Texas, was one of 48 students in the Concert Chorale who traveled to San Antonio during spring 2019 to perform with the San Antonio Chamber Choir (SACC). This special opportunity was a part of the MacPherson Prize, a statewide award that recognizes excellence in choral conducting, won by TCU’s director of choral activities, Dr. Christopher Aspaas.

Max Navarro

For me, music is a cooperative art that has the appeal of working with other people, and that’s exactly what the TCU Concert Chorale got to do with the SACC. We had the opportunity to perform twice with this wonderful group of professional musicians.

I’ve spent the last several years working towards becoming a professional educator and chorister. One of my many career aspirations is to sing with many professional choruses across the state and nation, and that opportunity actually began while singing with the SACC. 

Since then, I have started networking with several members of the chorus as well as Dr. Bjella, the SACC’s director.

Going on this trip as part of the TCU Concert Chorale gave me and many of my peers the opportunity to further our development as musicians.

–Max Navarro

In the coming year, the School of Music will send four ensembles to perform and again represent TCU on a statewide, national and international level.

  • November 2019: TCU Percussion will perform at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in Indianapolis, Ind.
  • February 2020: TCU Wind Symphony will perform at the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Annual Clinic & Convention – Centennial Celebration in San Antonio Texas
  • March 2020: TCU Concert Chorale will perform at the Southwestern Region Conference of the American Choral Directors Association (SWACDA) in Little Rock, Ark.
  • July 2020: TCU Jazz Ensemble will perform at the 54th Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland

Students’ comments have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Join the College of Fine Arts on TCU Gives Day, Nov. 13-14, to help future students, like Elijah, Taylor and Max, continue pursuing their passions.