The HSPVA Music Department consists of 330 majors who are given the opportunity to perform classical voice, orchestral music, concert band music, jazz, mariachi and popular music in both large and small ensembles. The students are instructed in music theory, composition and improvisation, music history, form and analysis, vocal production, sight-singing and ear training, instrumental technique classes, chamber music, and class piano.
The mission of the HSPVA Music Department is to provide students highly specialized and rigorous musical training, fostering an appreciation for the arts, guiding them on their journey towards graduation and post-graduation studies as future performers and arts advocates.
Music Department Philosophy
The HSPVA Music Department’s primary aim is to promote to a maximum degree the musical intelligence and potential of each student. They develop this potential through active participation in large and small ensembles, group and individual technical instruction, and interaction with performing artists. In addition to the development of musical skills, students learn positive, professional work ethics, becoming responsible citizens.
Achievements and Honors
Various ensembles from the Music Department have been featured at Carnegie Hall, Opryland, Disney World, the National Association of Jazz Educators, Texas Choral Directors Association, Texas Music Educators Association, the Meyerson Center in Dallas, the Cancun Jazz Festival, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Monument in Washington D.C. and the Essentially Ellington Festival at Lincoln Center in New York City. The HSPVA Symphony, Chorale and Wind Ensemble and several pianists have performed with the Houston Symphony on several occasions. Ensembles have toured to Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Hawaii, New York, New Orleans, Dallas, San Antonio, Lubbock, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Corpus Christi, Austin and West Texas, and have traveled to Scotland, Taiwan, England, Japan, Norway and China. In the summer of 1994 the Chorale participated in some of the 50th anniversary celebrations of D-Day in Normandy, France. Many of our students have represented the music department in various competitions and have become members of the region and all-state honor ensembles.
They are winners in:
- National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition,
- Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) contest,
- Houston Symphony Concerto Contest,
- UIL State Solo and Ensemble Contest,
- Downbeat Magazine Awards,
- GRAMMY high school jazz ensemble, and
- National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts YoungArts (ARTS) competition, a highly competitive national competition that leads to a few select students being named Presidential Scholars in the Arts.
For the third time since 2000 the HSPVA Music Department has been recognized as a GRAMMY Signature Gold School. In 2006 the department also received through the GRAMMY foundation the Gibson Guitar Grant. The Signature Gold School Award and the Gibson Grant came with $5000 stipends. The GRAMMYS are displayed in the HSPVA music hall.
Guest artists in the department have included:
- Arthur Fiedler,
- Shirley Ceasar,
- Ed Lojeski,
- Suzanne Mentzer,
- Dizzy Gillespie,
- David Ogden Stiers,
- Moses Hogan,
- Lloyd Pfautsch,
- Charles Nelson,
- Stella Zambalis,
- Ana Maria Martinez,
- Jake Heggie,
- Laura Claycomb,
- Yolanda Adams,
- Richard Paul Fink,
- Nancy Weems,
- Marvin Stamm,
- Regina Belle,
- Wynton Marsalis
Some of HSPVA music department graduates who have achieved distinction in their fields and returned as guest artists include:
- Jason Moran (2010 MacArthur Fellow, Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor for Jazz),
- Brandon Lee (Juilliard School faculty member),
- Sara Hickman (2010 State Musician of Texas),
- Camille Zamora (founder, Sing for Hope),
- Sharyn Pirtle (founder, Young at Arts),
- Chris Walker (recording artist),
- Tamar (Ashley Davis) (recording artist),
- Robert Glasper (recording artist), and
- Everett Harp (recording artist).
Graduates of the department have studied at major universities, conservatories and schools of music in all parts of the United States, and have appeared in Broadway and television shows, films, and with various opera, symphonic, choral and jazz organizations and cruise ships in the United States and abroad. Many of our graduates are teaching music and other subjects in elementary and secondary school and in universities. Some have become major recording artists, television and movie stars and solo performers in Houston, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, New York, Singapore, Australia, and Great Britain.