By Gary Powell
The entirety of American entertainment media is focused on presenting musicians as celebrity. They build it, they burn it, they revive it, they contrive it, and when the story has been fully exposed to death, they trash it; moving on to develop their next prey payday.
Ensemble 109, named after its course number, first came into the academic catalog at the University of Texas Butler School of Music in the Spring semester, 1985. Directed by recording producer Gary Powell, who wrote all the musical arrangements, the group averaged eighteen shows per semester performing for UT System events and gala events in central Texas. This very popular ensemble’s auditions were open to any registered University of Texas student, regardless of major. Many students sang with Ensemble 109 their entire college career. Most former members are still singing and several went on to enjoy successful careers in music. The group disbanded when Powell left UT to pursue his professional career full-time in 1992. He has continued to train singers and performers who are currently working professionally across the country including Broadway, Disney World, cruise ships, Hollywood and points in-between.
Big Ideas from the University of Texas? You bet! Special Projects Marketing Manager Gayle Hight, at the Red McCombs School of Business, has invited me to speak at the Texas Enterprise Speaker Series. Having attended one of these presentations, I can report that they might be described as an extended TedTalk across a wide range of topics offering extraordinary insights with practical solutions from outstanding communicators. I am happy and honored to be included in this bunch of exceptional people. Please join us on September, 5, 2013.
by Gary Powell
It was March 6, 2008 when this story wrote itself. At this time of Phil Ramone’s passing, it seems appropriate to remember his influence on me and the music I compose and produce.
Glenn Richter, a longtime ally of mine and professor of music at the University of Texas, called this morning and invited me to have lunch with Phil Ramone. There are two producers in this world that would make me get dressed this fast. One is Sir George Martin, whom I have already met and briefly worked with. Phil Ramone is the other. Also present at the lunch were Executive Director of the NARAS – Texas Chapter, Theresa Jenkins and Project Director Jennifer Vocelka along with Ed Evans, Director of Technical Operations for Villa Muse and UT Recording Technology professor Mark Sarisky.
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Phil Ramone (1934-2013) The Producer of Many Influences
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by Gary Powell
In the next five minutes, I want to change your mind: I want to challenge your long-held conceptions of the performing arts and music education. I realize that asking for a paradigm shift in how we perceive the arts is tricky business. But I no longer risk anything when I tell you that there is a lot of unmovable concrete holding up our academic institutions. And on top of that concrete, with a broader perspective of what education is and who should bring it, there does exist the upside of greater prosperity by way of building an effective network of like-minded individuals…and willing institutions.