Partially hidden behind a chain-link fence and green construction plastic on the Texas A&M University campus, a slow evolution of a once empty lot on the corner of George Bush Drive and Coke Street is taking place. After 26 years of dreaming and planning, the new 70,000-square-foot John D. White ’70 – Robert L. Walker ’58 Music Activities Center will open on schedule this summer as the proper home for all Texas A&M students involved in bands, orchestras and choirs.
“The new building is state of the art,” said Dr. Timothy Rhea, director of Music Activities at Texas A&M. “The design addresses many issues we are facing in our current location, including lack of space, lack of access, limited rehearsal rooms, no dedicated practice rooms, etc. Our new center is built to house the uniqueness of our various musical offerings and will bring everything to the top level for our students.”
The center will accommodate more than 1,300 student musicians who participate in 14 orchestras, choral groups, and bands, and will provide four rehearsal halls, an outdoor 100-yard artificial turf practice field for the Aggie Band, individual soundproof practice rooms, and locker space for instruments. Texas A&M broke ground on the project in September 2017.
An inspirational space for student musicians
Students are eager about the opportunities the new facility will provide. “Much larger rehearsal spaces will gives us the chance to combine the various talents of the groups throughout Music Activities,” said Robby Reyes, a junior studying industrial engineering and vice president of the Century Singers. “Shared rehearsal times with the band and the orchestra could give us the chance to perform more complex or larger scale pieces, something not many collegiate musicians have, or that we have had in the past.”
The potential the new building holds for the future of music at Texas A&M is undeniable, but students also see it as a safe space for them on campus as well. “Music is my escape from the stresses of college life,” said Hunter Hewitt, a junior studying computer science and applied mathematics who plays the double bass in serval Texas A&M orchestras and bands. “For a few hours every week, I can forget about my assignments and exams and just focus on making music. Having a new Music Activities Center on campus gives those of us who are passionate about making music a place to go where we feel inspired.”
A long-awaited upgrade comes to fruition
The new center will replace the 50-year-old E.V. Adams Band Hall, which these performing groups have outgrown. The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band has not been able to rehearse inside for several years. Additionally, the building lacks adequately performing and storage space for musical groups that are growing in popularity on campus. A new home for Aggie musicians will allow these groups to grow, providing opportunities for larger performances, and will stand as a symbol of the importance of music on the Texas A&M campus.
“Going through this experience has reaffirmed for me the importance of musical opportunities for students enrolled at Texas A&M,” said Rhea. “We are most fortunate to have enjoyed strong support from our administration for many years. Their assistance in funding the Music Activities Center speaks to their continued commitment in providing the best experiences possible for students. There is no one more grateful than I for the support that we have received from everyone involved in this tremendous project.”
An investment in the future
Through the commitment and generosity of the university and private donors alike, this more than $40 million project has become a reality. In addition to the $20 million provided by the university, multiple donors, headlined by the Corpus Christi-based Ed Rachal Foundation, which provided the $10 million cornerstone gift to the project, have joined forces to provide more than $21 million toward the effort. In recognition of two dedicated Aggies’ years of service to Texas A&M and the Rachal Foundation alike, the new facility will bear the names of John D. White ’71 and Robert L. Walker ’58.
Naming rights provided in recognition of other key leadership gifts include:
- The Elizabeth A. and Paul H. Motheral ’52 Rehearsal Hall made possible by Elizabeth and Haskell Motheral ’52
- Dunlap Drill Field in honor of Anne and Dave Dunlap ’83
- The “Patricia C. and Weldon D. Kruger ’53 Plaza” recognizing Patricia and Weldon Kruger ’53
- The Dorothy and Artie McFerrin ’65 Heritage Hall, made possible by Dorothy McFerrin
Additionally, nearly 50 other naming gifts, ranging between $25,000 and $250,000, were provided by individuals, families, groups, and affiliate organizations.
For those interested in creating their own gift in support of Texas A&M’s 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, senior director of development, at email@example.com or call 979-845-7604.
Give online at give.am/SupportAggieMusic.
By Courtney Rhodes, Texas A&M University Division of Student Affairs
Media contact: Courtney Rhodes, Texas A&M University Division of Student Affairs, 979-845-4728, firstname.lastname@example.org.