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TXWES Music Students wow donors and guests at President’s Council Reception

05.17.2023 | By: Alumni Relations

Earlier this semester, Texas Wesleyan hosted the President’s Council Reception, an annual event celebrating the Texas Wesleyan President’s Council donors and our fantastic students. The President's Council includes donors who give $1,000 or more annually to the University. This year’s event was held in connection with the President’s Honors Concert, which featured 11 musically elite students of the TXWES music program. This annual concert and showcase is the highlight of the year for the music program and preparations and rehearsals take months. Six of this year’s performers attended the President’s Council Reception to meet and thank donors. Photographed above, left to right: Elyssa Williams, Zoe McKenzie ’22, Darion Chilton, Alex Garcia, Abraham Hernandez and Grace Hall ’22.

“Because Texas Wesleyan is a private school, there is no way we could be doing this without our donors,” shared Abraham Hernandez, a senior majoring in music with vocal concentration. “Every little bit that they put into the music department and the University, I can definitely see the difference, and I’m so thankful.”

This is Abraham’s third year performing in the President’s Honors Concert, and he chose L’Amour De Moy by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) for his concert performance. “This piece sits in a very comfortable spot for me,” shared Hernandez. “There is this flowing movement because the piece is arranged in cut time, and it helps the voice to kind of do what it needs to do to talk about love which is the subject of the song.”

“I am so thankful for our donors,” said Elyssa Williams, a junior majoring in music education with a vocal concentration. “There is a lot that goes into this university, and I don’t know if I would have had the experience that I have had at Texas Wesleyan had it not been for them.” This is Elyssa’s first year performing in the President’s Honors Concert, and she selected a piece from the traditional spiritual genre called, My Good Lord’s Done Been Here, by Moses Hogan (1957-2003) as her concert performance. “It’s a really cool piece with a large range and a pretty upbeat tempo. It’s like a church song, but classical, and I really like it.” In addition to her studies, Elyssa also visits high schools with the music department to share about Texas Wesleyan and recruit future Rams.

“As a legacy student, my family has had a long history with Texas Wesleyan, said Grace Hall ’22. “I am very grateful for all of the donors who keep the traditions of the school going.” Grace qualified for the President’s Honors Concert during the last semester of her senior year, and she returned to campus to perform in the concert as a music alumna. Grace chose a piano performance of Danza de la moza donosa from Danzas Argentinas by Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983) as her concert piece. She played the first movement during University College Day, which is an annual event on campus where students present on a wide range of topics.

After visiting with donors and guests for a short time, three of the student performers gave a preview of their concert pieces to reception guests.

A young woman playing the keyboard

Zoe McKenzie ’22 gives a preview piano performance of Six Romanian Folk Dances by Béla Bartók (1881-1945) for President’s Council Reception Guests.

Zoe shared that this piece in particular was originally composed for a violin which can be sensed in how she plays the different movements on the piano. This is Zoe’s third year performing in the President’s Honors Concert, and since she graduated in December 2022, Zoe is performing as a music alumna. “My experience at the President's Council Reception was wonderful,” said McKenzie. “It was great to meet so many of the people who have poured into my life from behind the scenes for the past three years. [It is] truly an invaluable experience.” Zoe has been playing piano for 13 years and is also proficient in violin. Since graduation, she has been teaching lessons and continuing to perform.

A young woman playing the flute

Alex Garcia, a junior Music major with composition and flute concentration, performs the Sonata for Flute and Piano, III. Presto giocoso by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) for President’s Council guests. Alex was accompanied by Texas Wesleyan music instructor and collaborative pianist Keith Critcher.

Alex Garcia has been preparing for this performance for years. “This is a piece that I was familiar with before I actually even started to play the flute,” shared Alex. “I heard it one day during a time when I was just deciding that I wanted to learn to play the flute. Performing this piece proficiently has been a goal of mine for four years now, and I am finally up to the point where I have the skill and technique to play it well.” This is Alex’s second year performing in the President’s Honors Concert. “Donors to Texas Wesleyan are really encouraging,” said Alex. “We don’t even know them personally, and they’re just being so generous so that we can do what we love. Just knowing that they are making a difference is enough for them, and that means a lot to me.” In addition to flute, Alex also plays piano, electric guitar and violin.

A young man singing

Darion Chilton, senior music education major, performed La Donna e Mobile from Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) for guests at the President’s Council Reception. Darion was accompanied by Texas Wesleyan music instructor and collaborative pianist Keith Critcher. Photo Credit: Sandra Garcia ’02, MM '09.

Darion shared that he chose this piece partly because it is recognizable and others can enjoy and sing along even though the piece is not in English. This is Darion’s third year performing in the President’s Honors Concert, and he has been singing this piece as often as possible, even performing the piece for his church, to prepare for the big day. “I would like to say thank you to our University donors,” said Darion. “They helped draw me to Texas Wesleyan because yes, it’s small — but the scholarships are big indeed! Thank you for giving me this opportunity. Without your help, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love.”

If you are a donor to Texas Wesleyan University, we cannot thank you enough. You made this year and this special event possible for our hard-working students, and we’re excited for what’s to come!

Campus clock tower with red flowers
Your Texas Wesleyan journey doesn’t end when you walk across the stage. You continue to be a part of the University - someone who supports and upholds Texas Wesleyan for generations of Rams to come. Alumni are the proudest accomplishment of this institution, and we all benefit when Rams stay involved with TXWES.