Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

WT’s High Plains Piano Extravaganza to Pay Tribute to Late Bill Evans, Raise Vital Funds

Among the performers slated for the 2023 High Plains Piano Extravaganza are, from left, Debra Wilcox and Adrianne Sage.

CANYON, Texas — More than a dozen area music teachers will join hands for a special concert featuring classical works for piano in honor of a beloved former West Texas A&M University faculty member.

The High Plains Piano Extravaganza will feature several renowned musicians joining forces to perform on one or more pianos, including works from the likes of Ludwig van Beethoven, Antonín Dvořák, Gabriel Faure, Sergei Rachmaninoff, John Phillip Sousa and more.

The Extravaganza, now in its second year, will be held in honor of Bill Evans, a WT professor emeritus of music, who died in March.

The free concert will begin at 5 p.m. Aug. 5 in the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex Recital Hall on WT’s Canyon campus.

“Audiences will be in for a treat thanks to a diverse lineup of compositions,” said Dr. Choong-ha Nam, professor in the School of Music in WT’s Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities. “Not only does this concert provide an opportunity for delightful collaborations between musicians, it also allows us to pay tribute to Bill Evans, who taught piano at WT for decades and whose legacy continues on through his students and their students to this day.”

A silent auction will raise funds for the Amarillo Music Teachers Association teacher enrichment fund, which helps pay for Music Teachers National Association membership for new piano teachers. AMTA is a chapter of MTNA, the premier national music teachers association, which provides networking, continuing education and student opportunities for independent music teachers.

Funds also will support scholarships for junior high and high school students who wish to attend the WT Piano Camp, which will launch in July 2024. Students will have the chance to study solo and chamber music with WT faculty members and guest teachers, as well as performance opportunities.

The 14 performers, who’ll play in various configurations, at the Extravaganza will include Nam; Dr. Sarah Rushing, WT assistant professor of music; Mila Abbasova, WT piano instructor; Stephen Simpson, WT administrative associate and piano teacher; Denise Parr-Scanlin, retired WT professor of music; Minkyoung Song, a recent WT graduate from South Korea; and Sandy McQueen, a WT alumnus who lives in Dallas. Performers also will include former WT piano instructor Dr. Sarah Kemmerling; 2023 Amarillo High School graduate Jack Milligan; and area piano teachers Debra Wilcox, Adrianne Sage, Eileen Moss, Andreanna Hawbaker and Debra Simpson.

Most of the pianists performing in the concert are actively teaching the next generation of this region’s musicians, Nam said.

Fostering an appreciation of the arts is a key component of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021— has raised more than $125 million and will continue through 2025.

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