School of Music

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Meet Our College of Fine Arts Faculty

Dr. Lynnette Chambers-HSU Music Department Head of Graduate StudiesLynnette E Chambers, Adjunct Professor of Voice

A native of Houston, Texas, Lynnette Ellen Chambers joined the voice faculty of Hardin-Simmons University 1998.  She has performed throughout the United States and Italy.  Lynnette made her professional stage debut in 1995 as Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with Southern Ohio Light Opera.

She is a graduate of The Ohio State University, receiving her D.M.A. and M.M. degrees in Vocal Performance, and attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where she received her Bachelor of Music Education Degree.

Her operatic/musical theater performance credits include the roles of Anna Leonowens in The King and I, Suzuki and Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte, Flora in La Traviata, Mercedes in Carmen, Lucy in Hotel Casablanca, Dryade in Ariadne Auf Naxos, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Orfeo in Orfeo ed Euridice, Nancy in Albert Herring, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Mrs. Darling in Peter Pan, Rosina in The Barber of Seville, and Tituba in Robert Ward’s The Crucible.

Matt Ellis, Adjunct Professor of MusicMatt Ellis, Adjunct Professor of Guitar

Matt Ellis has been playing guitar since 1990. He has a bachelor’s in music from Hardin-Simmons University in Music, and studied with Dan Mitchell. He has taught guitar since 2002 privately, and currently teaches guitar at HSU.

Matt owns a private studio (Mellis Music Studio) and teaches 50+ private guitar lessons a week. He employs a staff of four other teachers (piano, voice, violin, guitar, ukulele).  He started as an adjunct instructor at HSU in the spring of 2019.

He has a wife, Michelle, and three children: Richard, Lucy and Nora.

He is heavily invested in West Texas in live music, entertainment, worship leading, and instruction.

Guy GambleGuy Gamble, Adjunct Professor of Saxophone & Clarinet

A graduate of Abilene Christian University (BME) and University of North Texas (MME), Mr. Gamble has been a part of the music scene in his native Abilene since the age of 15, when he played his first professional gig in the NCO Club at Dyess AFB.

Following 2 years spent in a show band at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., as well as a few road gigs and 7 years as Associate Professor of Music at Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas, Mr. Gamble returned to Abilene where he has been privileged to play alongside the local talent in various bands and venues and teach as a private instructor in the area public schools, as well as in his home. Guy plays and teaches with a merry heart. Along with his years of experience and detailed understanding of music theory and performance, he has an infectious zeal and passion to see his students come to understand the intricacies and nuances of music so that they can realize their full potential musically and bring joy to themselves and their world.

Together with his wife of 37 years, he is grateful to be able to enjoy spending time with his children and grandchildren, fishing at the family lake cabin or relaxing at home.

Amy Huzjak, Adjunct Professor of MusicAmy Huzjak, Adjunct Professor of Cello

Originally from Colorado, cellist Amy Huzjak has been a member of the Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale since September 2011, serving as Principal Cellist and as cellist of the Permian Basin String Quartet. Amy also plays with the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, Amarillo Symphony, Big Spring Symphony, and freelances throughout West Texas. Recent solo appearances include Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Midland-Odessa Symphony and Abilene Christian University Orchestra, the Adagio of the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the University of Texas-Permian Basin, and a duo recital in Dallas.

A committed educator, Amy is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, has a studio of over 30 students in the Midland/Odessa area, and is the Adjunct Professor of Cello at the University of Texas-Permian Basin, Abilene Christian University, Hardin-Simmons University, Midland College, and Odessa College.

Before moving to Texas, Amy was the Principal Cellist of the Huntington (WV) Symphony Orchestra and played with several D.C area orchestras including the Fairfax (VA) Symphony Orchestra, Apollo Chamber Orchestra (MD), and the Prince William (VA) Symphony. She was a faculty member at the International School of Music in Bethesda, MD and had a private studio in College Park, MD.

Amy received her Masters degree in Music Performance at the University of Maryland in May 2011. During her time there, Amy served as an Orchestral Graduate Assistant, studying with David Teie and Evelyn Elsing. She received her Bachelors degree Summa Cum Laude from Arizona State University in May of 2009 where she studied with Thomas Landschoot. Amy has participated in numerous summer festivals including the Aspen Music Festival, National Orchestral Institute, and Killington Music Festival, studying with Michael Mermeguen, Andrew Schulman, and Brinton Smith.

Dr. Johnny Mendoza, Adjunct Professor of Percussion

Johnny Mendoza currently serves as Adjunct Professor of Music at Hardin-Simmons University. He has performed with orchestras and chamber groups throughout the country including the Nashville Symphony, Columbus Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Abilene Philharmonic, Mid-Texas Symphony, Newark-Granville Symphony, and Laredo Philharmonic orchestra.

Johnny has been invited to present masterclasses and clinics at several universities and high schools on topics related to commissioning new music, implementing musicianship, mallet keyboard transcriptions, kinesthetic learning methods, multi-disciplined collaborations, effective practice techniques, and community engagement through music. He has received state grants for his research on extended vibraphone techniques in the contemporary percussion repertoire and his research on the effects of caffeine and sleep on muscle memory consolidation for percussionists. He frequently tours the country performing with the Sympatico Percussion Group.

Johnny is a founding member of the new music chamber ensemble CODE and MaD Arts Group (Music and Dance), and he currently serves on the Percussive Arts Society Composition Committee. His teachers include Susan Powell, Joseph Krygier, Christopher Norton, Rich Graber, Todd London, Chester Thompson, and Sherry Rubins. He received his doctorate and master’s degrees from the Ohio State University and Belmont University, and his bachelor’s degree in percussion performance from the University of Texas-San Antonio.

Janelle Ott, Adjunct Professor of MusicDr. Janelle Ott, Adjunct Professor of Bassoon

Dr. Ott is the Adjunct Instructor of Bassoon at Hardin-Simmons University. In addition to her collegiate duties, Dr. Ott works directly with middle school and high school students in Abilene and Wiley. She also maintains a large private studio in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Recent orchestral engagements include the Abilene Philharmonic, Midland Odessa Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Summer Musicals at Bass Hall, Shreveport Symphony, and Texarkana Symphony. She is a member of Key City Winds, the Artists-In-Residence of the Heavenly Rest Chamber Concert Series.

Dr. Ott holds a dual bachelor’s degree in Music Performance and German from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Following her graduation from Luther College, Dr. Ott enrolled at Wichita State University, where she received her Master’s of Music and performed as the second bassoonist of the Wichita Symphony. She received a Performance Diploma from Indiana University in 2009 and earned a Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of North Texas. Her principal teachers are Kathleen Reynolds, William Ludwig, and Nicolasa Kuster.

While at UNT, Ms. Ott performed as the winner of the UNT Concerto Competition as well as principal of the Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra. She can be heard on several GIA Wind Works recordings, including Encryptions, Revelations, and Genesis.

Lauren J Puckett- HSU Associate Professor of PianoLauren J Puckett, Adjunct Professor of Piano

Lauren Puckett teaches piano, piano pedagogy and theory. She is a graduate of The Eastman School of Music where she received a degree in Piano Performance with Maria Luisa Faini, and Cleveland State University where she studied with pianist, Andrius Kuprevicius and harpsichordist, Janina Kuzma. Prior to joining Hardin-Simmons University, she was active as a pianist and teacher in Cleveland, Ohio, and Miami, Florida. She has taught at The Cleveland Music School Settlement where she was recipient of The Nathan Fryer Award, Cuyahoga Community College, Notre Dame College and The North Miami Conservatory of Fine Arts.

Puckett frequently collaborates with her husband, Mark, and together they recorded a CD titled “Rendezvous” which includes two-piano and four-hand works by Shostakovich, Fauré, Ravel, Milhaud and Lutoslawski. They presented a lecture/recital of 20th century compositions at the Texas Music Teachers Association State Convention, performed in Dresden, Germany during Chopin Tour 2005, and recently in Dieppe, France. They were guest artists with The Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, and in 2010, performed Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra. In 2017, they performed the Poulenc Concerto with The Abilene Civic Orchestra. Puckett is also active as a chamber musician and has performed with The Abilene Chamber Players.

In addition to teaching, Puckett is in demand as an adjudicator and has presented symposiums on improvisation to music teachers’ organizations and college groups. She is an active member of Abilene Music Teachers Association, a nationally certified member of Music Teachers National Association and received the 2008 Teacher of the Year Award from AMTA. She has served on the Texas Music Teachers Association Board of Directors to oversee the areas of MTNA/TMTA Performance, MTNA/TMTA Composition and Collaborative Arts.

Mark A Puckett Professor of Piano and Artist in ResidenceMark A Puckett, Adjunct Professor of Piano

Dr. Mark Puckett has performed as soloist and chamber musician in the United States, Canada, Europe, Central America, and Asia. Conductors with whom he has worked include David Itkin, Shinik Hahm, Robert Cronquist, Guy Frazier Harrison and Ray Luke.

Puckett received his Bachelor of Music degree at Oklahoma City University where he studied piano with Dr. Clarence Burg and Ernestine Scott. He then attended the University of Kansas and completed his master’s and doctoral degrees in piano with Sequeira Costa, Leon Fleisher, Menahem Pressler and Claude Frank.

Puckett has taught at the Bösendorfer International Piano Academy in Vienna, Austria.  He has been the Donald J. Feagin Guest Artist at the University of Tulsa and has performed at the French Piano Institute Soiree Musicale. He has won awards in several international piano competitions, including second prize in the 1990 New Orleans International Piano Competition.

In addition to performing, Puckett is in demand as a master class clinician, lecturer, and adjudicator. Recordings include a CD of Chopin’s Op 10 Etudes, Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit and Liszt’s ‘La campanella’ and a CD of two-piano and four-hand piano music titled Rendezvous recorded with his wife, Lauren Puckett. The Pucketts frequently perform two-piano programs.

Susetta Rockett, Adjunct Professor of MusicSusetta Rockett, Adjunct Professor of Oboe

Susetta Dunn Rockett currently sits in the Janeen Holms Gilliam Chair (second oboe/English horn) with the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra and is oboe faculty at Abilene Christian University, Hardin- Simmons University, and McMurry University. She is also the Concert Series Coordinator at the Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, TX.

Ms. Rockett received her degrees in Music Education and Performance from Texas Tech University, and a Master’s in Oboe Performance with distinction from the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass., where she studied with Wayne Rapier. Ms. Rockett has also studied English horn with David Matthews and Steven Lickman.

She is a frequent recitalist, clinician, and maintains an active teaching schedule, but most of all loves performing chamber music with her incredibly gifted colleagues – Key City Winds. Ms. Rockett lives in Abilene with her husband and two daughters who love the oboe!

Erin E. Weber, Adjunct Professor of MusicErin E. Weber, Adjunct Professor of Violin

Erin E. Weber is Adjunct Professor of Violin at Hardin-Simmons University and Abilene Christian University and recently finished a season with the Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale as Principal Second Violin and Second Violin of the Permian Basin String Quartet. She earned her Master of Music degree from Texas Tech University as a teaching assistant under Professor Annie Chalex Boyle and her Bachelor of Music degree from Southwestern University, where she studied with Dr. Eri Lee Lam. While at Texas Tech University, Erin performed outreach concerts in West Texas communities as a member of the Texas Tech University String Quartet and served the Texas Tech University String Project as a violin instructor and graphic designer.

In 2009 Erin won the concerto competition at Southwestern University and was the featured soloist with the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra as the Amarillo Symphony Guild’s Young Artist competition winner in 2008. Erin has frequently accompanied chorales such as the Lubbock Chorale and Amarillo Master Chorale and has performed chamber music concerts with Chamber Music Amarillo and as a guest artist of the Lake City Arts Chamber Music Series in Colorado. As an orchestral musician she has performed with multiple ensembles, including the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale, Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, the Amarillo Symphony, and the Austin Civic Orchestra.

Her previous orchestral leadership roles include serving as Acting Concertmaster of Lubbock Symphony, Co-Concertmaster of the Texas Tech University Symphony Orchestra, and Co-Concertmaster and Principal Second of the Southwestern University Orchestra. Erin has also engaged in several national and international music festivals, including the Round Top Festival Institute, Lake City String Academy, Hot Springs Festival, Madeleine Island Chamber Music Camp, and the IES Vienna Summer Music Festival in Vienna, Austria. She has had the privilege of performing in masterclasses for such teachers as Thomas Rosenburg, Paul Cantor, Charlie Castleman, and Kevork Madirossian. Her pre-collegiate teachers include Beverly de la Bretonne, who reared her in the Amarillo College Suzuki Program from age 3, and Dr. Keith Redpath.

Nurturing students’ creativity and facilitating their musical expression through developing reliable technique are Erin’s principle motivations for teaching.

 

Music Ensemble Opportunities

The World Famous Cowboy Band marching in a parade.“The World Famous” Cowboy Band, an ensemble rich in history and tradition, has been an important part of HSU, Abilene, and West-Texas since its inception in April 1923. Membership in the Cowboy Band is open to all HSU students, both men and women, with prior high school band experience. The band regularly performs for football and basketball games, rodeos, presidential and gubernatorial inaugurations, parades, and many other campus and civic events. Presenting some 35 performances annually, it is one of the most widely heard and seen musical ensembles in all of West Texas!

As its name suggests, this highly spirited band has literally traveled the world entertaining audiences. It acquired the nick-name “World Famous” after its European Tour in 1930. Since that time it has performed in the Azores, Belgium, Bermuda, Canada, England, Germany, Holland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Monaco, Newfoundland, Spain, and Switzerland. The Cowboy Band has performed for six Presidential Inaugural Parades and events: Herbert Hoover – 1929, Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1941, Dwight D. Eisenhower – 1953, Richard M. Nixon – 1969, Jimmy Carter – 1977, and George W. Bush – 2001. The Band has also performed for 11 Texas Gubernatorial Parades and events. Recent travel has included performances in Boston for the Lion’s International Convention and at the San Francisco Pow Wow, one of the world’s largest tourism conventions, at the request of Governor Rick Perry.

The World Famous Cowboy Band on stage performing.The Cowboy Band dresses in colorful western attire that has changed little over the past 91 years. It was back in 1923 that Grady Kinsolving, secretary of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, approached Simmons College band director Dewey O. Wiley, and asked the band to represent Abilene at a West Texas Chamber of Commerce gathering in San Angelo, quite an honor considering that the little band had previously ventured no further than the towns of Baird, Tuscola, and View. In looking for a distinctive yet affordable uniform, a visit to the local dry goods store turned up some chaps, hats, and neckerchiefs. The Cowboy Band was born!

What is it that makes the Hardin-Simmons University Cowboy Band so memorable and unique in the entire band world? It isn’t the band’s size – the band typically numbers between 40 and 55. It isn’t fancy uniforms – the band wears traditional western attire. And it isn’t a strict military regimen, that’s for sure! Why does the Cowboy Band thrill audiences whenever and wherever it performs?

While most bands are satisfied with performing for others, the Cowboy Band does more. It works hard to engage its audiences on an individual and personal level. It joins in the celebration! This characteristic, coupled with the world’s fascination with the free-spirited cowboy of the American West, may account for its popularity wherever it goes!

The World Famous Cowboy Band drummer.The band’s largest audiences are generally at parades. The Cowboy Band annually marches in the Dallas Children’s Medical Center Holiday Parade (previously the Adolphus Parade). In this parade alone, the band will perform for more than a half-million people along the parade route. It is also broadcast in more than 30-million homes across North America.

While marching at a super-fast cadence of 200-210 beats per minute the band shuffles into view, whooping, hollering, and waving their hats in the air! Their leather chaps move in smooth unison as the band seems to float along. Suddenly two band members break rank and join arms to “swing-your- partner” square dance style. Occasionally, a band member my stop to greet bystanders by moving through the crowd shaking hands. Another may borrow a chair to sit for a second and fan her hot feet with her hat. Along the way the band strives to make eye contact with everyone on the parade route.

Soon the drum major gives the signal and the band begins playing The Eyes of Texas, Anthem March, Hey Baby, or Jingle Bells, swaying back and forth with the music. Periodically, they come to a complete stop with a huge stomp and begin a series of four giant scissor-kicks which crisscross each other. Known as the “cow-step,” this spectacular maneuver always elicits cheers from the audience. With chaps flying, instruments flashing, and general “carrying-on” during each kick it is an impressive site! Suddenly a whistle blows and the band whirls back into its rapid cadence, holding hats aloft and whistling and hollering with irresistible enthusiasm! This infectious enthusiasm is present in all of the band’s many performances! It’s Cowboy Band Show Time! Smiles abound! Memories are made!

HSU's Concert Band plays for its director.With more than 110 years of tradition, the Concert Band is HSU’s largest musical ensemble. Its members typically represent more than 25 major programs offered at the university and include music majors, music minors, and non-music majors. The Concert Band performs four campus concerts each year and tours off campus every spring. The Concert Band has performed for audiences throughout Texas as well as Colorado, New Mexico, California, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Missouri.

The Concert Band’s performances draw from a wide variety of traditional and contemporary repertoire and have included regional premieres of significant works by Roger Cichy, Martin Ellerby, Julie Giroux, Adam Gorb, Yo Goto, Joe Hisaishi, Chang Su Koh, Coby Lankester, John Mackey, Jared Spears, Stephen Melillo, and Guy Woolfenden, as well as world premieres of works by Bernard Scherr, Jeffrey Cottrell, William Owens, and Daniel Porter.

The HSU Concert Band closes a performance with song.The Concert Band has presented acclaimed performances at the College Band Directors National Association – 2008 Southwest Division Conference in Kansas City, MO, Texas Music Educators Association Convention, Baptist General Convention of Texas, and New Mexico Baptist Convention.

Some of the band’s most distinguished alumni include Colonel Brian Shelburne Jr., director of the United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own” (1990-2000), Colonel Jack Grogan, director of the United States Army Field Band (1991-1999), and the late Dr. W. Francis McBeth, acclaimed composer and conductor. Additionally, nearly 10% (24) of all the members of the prestigious Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame were part of the HSU band program.

The HSU Concert Choir stands at attention onstage.A large ensemble open to all university students by auditions held at the beginning of each fall semester. Concert Choir is designed for study and performance of representative works from choral schools since the sixteenth century. Concert Choir is the primary tour choir, and has performed by invitation throughout Texas.

View some of our performances on YouTube:

An ongoing, flexible organization designed to study and perform standard chamber music repertoire for various combinations of instruments. Open to all students by audition. Examples of some of our chamber groups include the Trombone Ensemble, the Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble, and the Brass Quintet.

A large ensemble open to all university students. Chorale is designed for study and performance of major choral works. No audition is required for this ensemble. Students wishing to participate may enroll during registration for course credit, or choose to participate without credit to their transcript.

All students participating in University Chorale are required to give a placement hearing, the beginning of each fall semester. This hearing is for placement only, not as a requisite for enrollment.

A female student plays the saxophone during a jazz ensemble performance.The Hardin-Simmons Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Cottrell, is dedicated to the study and performance of Jazz in many different forms. We perform everything from swing music by the Count Basie band to progressive rock by King Crimson. We also have students that practice and perform in small combos as an outgrowth of the jazz ensemble, and feature them in performance on and off campus. The ensemble is open to anyone regardless of his or her major.

HSU students perform the opera, Merry Widow.An ensemble which presents fully staged productions each year, as well as a course in the practical application and performing aspects of opera and musical theater. Auditions are held periodically throughout the semester. Times and dates of these auditions are posted in the lobby of the Hemphill Music Building. Dr. Christopher Hollingsworth is Director of Opera for HSU.

A list of some past productions follows: Don Giovanni, Candide, Carmen, Albert Herring, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Die Fledermaus, The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, The Gondoliers, Hansel and Gretel, Suor Angelica, The Medium, Gianni Schicchi, Dido and Aeneas, Guys and Dolls, 110 In The Shade, Trouble in Tahiti as well as others.

HSU students perform in the Abilene civic orchestra.The Civic Orchestra of Abilene is sponsored primarily by the music departments of Hardin Simmons University, Abilene Christian University, and McMurry University,

Click on the following link for more information about Orchestra opportunities http://www.civicorchabilene.org/

Designed to develop sight-reading skills at the piano and explore two-piano/four hand literature. Instruction is also given in collaborative performance, including vocal, instrumental and chamber music. Performance opportunities are available as deemed appropriate by instructor.

Four semesters of Piano Ensemble is required for piano performance majors and open to other pianists by audition. Pianists should accompany at least two music students during the semester in which they are enrolled.

The school of Music at Hardin Simmons is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and was the very first music school in the state of Texas to receive accreditation. The program has been fully accredited by this organization since 1930.

Theta Lambda Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America received its charter in 1959. Phi Mu Alpha is a professional music fraternity for men interested in music. The main purpose of the fraternity is to advance the cause of music in America. The chapter has several projects during the school year such as co-sponsoring the “All-School Sing” with Sigma Alpha Iota and serving as stage assistants for all recitals in Woodward-Dellis Recital Hall. The main fundraising project for the chapter is the “All-School Sing,” with proceeds being used for scholarships and new equipment for HSU and the School of Music.

The Gamma Phi Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota was founded at HSU on February 4, 1961. It is an international fraternity for women in the field of music. The largest project locally is “All-School Sing,” co-sponsored with Phi Mu Alpha with all proceeds going to service projects such as the International Music Fund, scholarships, equipment, and materials for the School of Music. The Gamma Phi Chapter is supported by members of the former Abilene Alumnae Chapter of SAI. College membership is open to any music major or minor with a qualifying grade point average.

The Epsilon Pi Chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda was founded at HSU in February 1984. Its primary objective is the recognition and encouragement of the highest level of musical achievement and academic scholarship. This national music honorary society chooses its members annually by invitation only according to class ranking and/or grade point average. There are over 130 chapters of Pi Kappa Lambda nationwide.

Music Educators National Conference and Texas Music Educators Association are organizations for music educators and are represented in the School of Music through a student affiliate chapter. By participation in this professional organization at the student level, one is better prepared to serve the profession following graduation. All music education majors, as well as students in other majors, are strongly encouraged to become active in the profession through participation in the student music educators chapter.