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UNT alumni deserve salute

Monday’s presidential inauguration and the events surrounding it were played out on a grand stage, and several graduates of the University of North Texas College of Music played prominent roles.

Military bands are key components of inaugural events, and UNT officials report that UNT alumni dominate the euphonium sections of U.S. military bands and have a strong presence in the premier jazz bands. Alumni are also performing in nearly every section of U.S. military concert bands and many are working in leadership positions as staff arrangers, music directors and section or unit leaders.

That’s a justifiable point of pride for the university, the music program and UNT graduates everywhere.

In fact, all Denton County residents should take great pride in this reflection of the quality education provided by the University of North Texas and the talent and dedication of its graduates.

As one of those graduates, Senior Master Sgt. Joe Jackson, pointed out, the eyes of the world were focused on Monday’s events, including the inaugural parade in which Jackson marched with the U.S. Air Force Ceremonial Brass band.

“That is a direct projection of power for the United States of America,” Jackson said. “We all know a picture is worth a thousand words, and when you see the absolute crispness, and all these people in amazing physical condition, that sends a message that is more powerful than any words you could ever find.”

And this was far from Jackson’s first rodeo. When he passed the viewing platform Monday, it was the University of North Texas alumnus’ sixth inaugural parade.

Jackson wasn’t alone in representing UNT’s wind program in the inaugural parade. Clarinet player Meaghan Walsh Kawaller and euphonium player Mark Jenkins are members of the prestigious “President’s Own” Marine Band. The “President’s Own” donned their bright red coats and played on the viewing platform with President Obama during the parade.

Alan Blaylock is staff arranger with the Air Force Band and chief arranger for the Airmen of Note. James Kazik is staff arranger for the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” Scott Arcangel, who is music director of the Jazz Knights, and Luis Hernandez, who is music director of the Commodores, are UNT jazz alumni. Four UNT alumni are unit leaders of their ensemble, including Col. Timothy J. Holtan, commander of the U.S. Army Field Band. Twelve alumni serve as section leaders within premier military ensembles.

UNT alumni also are vocal soloists with the bands: Dustin J. Lucas is a tenor soloist with the U.S. Navy Band, and Sara Dell’Omo is a mezzo-soprano soloist with the “President’s Own” — the first featured female vocal soloist in Marine Band history.

That’s an impressive roll call, and we salute you for using your talents to serve your nation.

You’ve made us all proud.