After more than 25 years of planning and 20 months of construction, Texas A&M University hosted the grand opening of a new Music Activities Center on Friday, Aug. 30.

The event featured comments from university officials, including President Michael K. Young and other dignitaries. Student musicians who are part of the university’s bands, orchestras and choral groups performed throughout the event, and a private ceremony honored those whose donations made the building possible.

Following the ceremony, the Singing Cadets held its first concert of the year in the center’s choral rehearsal hall. 

View photos from the event here.

Robby Reyes '20, Candace Clemmons '20 and Matthew Bohn '22 (left to right) on the new drill field outside the Music Activities Center. 

A Symbol of Music on the Texas A&M Campus

Texas A&M broke ground for the John D. White ’70 – Robert L. Walker ’58 Music Activities Center in September 2017 after securing a $20 million financial commitment from the university and then leading a successful fundraising campaign that raised $21.4 million from former students and other supporters.

Texas A&M University contributed $10 million and the Division of Student Affairs paid $10 million, which included funds from the Department of Residence Life and University Center & Special Events.

The Texas A&M Department of Music Activities, which is part of the Division of Student Affairs, contracted SpawGlass and numerous specialized subcontractors to build a space that not only meets the needs of its users, but also rivals the quality of any university music facility in the United States.

The 70,000-square-foot building includes four state-of-the-art rehearsal halls acoustically designed for the unique needs of 1,300 Texas A&M students who are part of orchestras, choral groups and bands. There are a few dozen soundproof practice rooms, instrument storage for hundreds of instruments, group archival rooms, choir offices, administrative office wings for both the bands and choral staff, a reception area, and a student lounge. Custom wall graphics pay tribute to the history and traditions of Texas A&M musical groups, including:

  • Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band
  • TAMU Wind Symphony
  • TAMU Jazz Ensembles
  • Symphonic Winds, Symphonic Concert Band and Concert Band
  • University Orchestras
  • Aggieland Orchestra
  • Singing Cadets
  • Century Singers
  • Women’s Chorus

Additionally, crews built a perfect 1:1 replica of Kyle Field made out of turf meant to last much longer than the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band’s previous drill field, which did not fare well under the precision turns of bandsmen and women.

“Everything in the building is state of the art, from the soundproof rehearsal environments, to the audio visual package, to the turf drill field,” said Dr. Tim Rhea, director of Music Activities and Bands. “All safety, storage and acoustical issues of our former facilities have been solved with the construction of this center.”

  • Dunlap Drill Field

    Dunlap Drill Field is a perfect 1:1 replica of Kyle Field made out of turf that will serve as the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band’s drill field.
  • Music Activities Center

    The 70,000-square-foot building is designed to meet the unique needs of more than 1,300 Texas A&M students who are part of orchestras, choral groups and bands.
  • Aggie War Hymn

    Art throughout the new facility pays homage to Texas A&M's rich musical history and traditions.
  • Heritage Hall

    The Dorothy and Artie McFerrin ’65 Heritage Hall, made possible by Dorothy McFerrin, details the history of Texas A&M music activities.
  • Instrument Storage

    The new facility includes customized lockers for hundreds of instruments, as well as a few dozen soundproof practice rooms, group archival rooms, choir offices, administrative office wings for both the bands and choral staff, a reception area and a student lounge.
  • Rehearsal Halls

    The center includes four state-of-the-art rehearsal halls with unique acoustic features. The space not only meets the needs of its users, but also rivals the quality of any university music facility in the United States.
  • Music Activities Center

    The new center replaces the 50-year-old E.V. Adams Band Hall and the Choral Activities Suite located in the Memorial Student Center, which these performing groups have outgrown.
  • The Spirit of Aggieland

    While Texas A&M does not have a music degree program, students from all majors and disciplines may participate and perform in musical groups.
  • John D. White '70

    John D. White '70 is one of the namesakes of the new Music Activities Center. John began his involvement with the Rachal Foundation in 1995 and served as chairman from 1998 to 2013. When the organization decided to honor him with this naming gift for the Music Activities Center, he felt immensely humbled. The gift carries special significance for him and his wife, Daisy, especially because she grew up in College Station and fondly remembers watching the band perform as a young child.
  • Dr. Robert L. Walker '58

    Dr. Bob Walker '58 served the university for 46 years in executive development positions. Additionally, he served on the board of the Rachal Foundation for 23 years, where he immensely enjoyed the opportunity to support charitable causes across Texas and especially at Texas A&M. While he was not a member of any musical organization at Texas A&M, Bob was named an honorary Singing Cadet in 1996 after he helped its former director, Bob Boone, raise funds for the group to tour in Europe.

The new center replaces the 50-year-old E.V. Adams Band Hall and the Choral Activities Suite located in the Memorial Student Center, which these performing groups have outgrown. Due to safety concerns, the 300-plus member Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band has not been able to rehearse in the Adams Band Hall for several years. Additionally, the building lacks adequate performing and storage space for musical groups that are growing in popularity on campus.

“We now have great spaces to hang out before and after rehearsals,” said Rachel Hampi ’20, a senior in the Symphonic Winds and a student employee for Music Activities. “This space is a great way for students from our different ensembles to meet and talk about school and music. It means a lot to me, and I know it will make my work for the department more efficient.”

While Texas A&M does not have a music degree program, students from all majors and disciplines may participate and perform in musical groups.

“This new building is an adventure as the choirs move into a new space, learn to adapt to changes and gain the opportunity to rehearse in a more comfortable space,” said Robby Reyes ‘20, president of the Century Singers. “The ensemble and practice rooms will allow more students to practice their craft without interruption. I’m excited that the Century Singers will have our own storage closet, and a larger rehearsal room gives us the chance to expand the choir due to lack of space.”

Candace Clemmons '20 in one of the instrument storage rooms for the Aggie Band.

An Investment in the Future

Numerous individuals and groups, headlined by the Corpus Christi-based Ed Rachal Foundation, which provided the $10 million cornerstone gift to the project, have joined forces with Texas A&M to make the center a reality.

In recognition of two dedicated Aggies’ years of service to Texas A&M and the Rachal Foundation, the new facility will bear the names of John D. White ’70 and Robert L. Walker ’58.

Naming rights provided in recognition of other key leadership gifts include:

  • The Elizabeth A. and Paul H. Motheral ’52 Aggie Band Rehearsal Hall made possible by Elizabeth and Haskell Motheral ’52. The Motheral Family also gave another gift to name the Concert Band Rehearsal Hall after Dr. Timothy Rhea.
  • Dunlap Drill Field, the new practice site for the Aggie Band, in honor of Anne and Dave Dunlap ’83.
  • The “Patricia C. and Weldon D. Kruger ’53 Plaza” recognizing Patricia and Weldon Kruger ’53. This space will host future music activities events.
  • The Dorothy and Artie McFerrin ’65 Heritage Hall, made possible by Dorothy McFerrin. The Heritage Hall details the history of Texas A&M music activities.

Additionally, nearly 50 other naming gifts, ranging between $25,000 and $250,000, were provided by individuals, families, groups and affiliate organizations.

Many gifts that support the center pay tribute to family members, friends, classmates and Music Activities staff. The names of those who funded gifts and those they honor are engraved on structural pillars around the building, fence pillars surrounding the drill field, and on custom-designed plaques on interior and exterior spaces (such as practice rooms) throughout the building.   

For those interested in creating their own gift in support of Texas A&M music activities, naming opportunities including rehearsal spaces, student and staff offices and suites, and building and drill field pillars still remain.

For more information about how to support future generations of talented Aggie musicians and secure naming rights for one or more areas of the facility, contact Matt Jennings '95 at mjennings@txamfoundation.com or (979) 845-7604.

Grand Opening Recap

Watch a recap of the Music Activities Center grand opening.

Contact:

Matt Jennings '95

Senior Director of Development
Division of Student Affairs
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