TAMU-CC Celebrates the Sixth Season of the SoundWaves Festival


Viet Cuong introducing his piece “Sound and Smoke” to be performed by the TAMU-CC Symphonic Winds at the Opening Night Concert. Photo by William Whitworth at MARCOM

Alexis Garcia, Reporter

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is home to talented musicians enrolled in the Music Department and the SoundWaves Festival is one of the many music events where these students can present their skills, including the Opening Concert on Monday which presented the Symphonic Winds, Camerata Isla, and the University Orchestra. Featuring compositions of guest composer, Viet Cuong. 

The sixth season of the SoundWaves Festival kicked off on Monday with an Islander Music Student for a Day event. High School students across Texas who are interested in pursuing music and joining the Islander community participated in lessons with faculty, and sat in on ensemble lessons to truly understand what it means to be a music major at TAMU-CC.

Concluding the first day of the festival, these students along with the Islander and Corpus Christi community had the opportunity to experience the talent within the Music Department with the Opening Concert featuring the Symphonic Winds, Camerata Isla, and the University Orchestra. 

Orchestra members standing on stage indoors
Dr. Brian Shelton presenting the TAMU-CC Symphonic Winds at the Opening Night Concert. Photo by William Whitworth at MARCOM

One of the main components of the SoundWaves Festival is meant to encourage students and faculty to collaborate as a way to show off their skills. However, according to Dr. Carrie Pierce, Professor of Music, one other aspect is to help promote living composers and their work. 

As musicians, we spend a lot of time studying and playing music from the past,” Dr. Pierce said. “The truth is there is exciting new music being written by current composers all of the time, and we hope to present this music in venues that the community feels comfortable attending.”

Pierce was one of the three faculty members who organized this festival alongside Dr. Rachel Messing, Assistant Professor of Music History; and Dr. Ksenija Komljenovic, Assistant Professor of Music who all took part in booking events, promotions, and inviting the guest composer.

This season, the invited guest composer is American composer, Viet Cuong. Cuong joined the festival to take part in the many events hosted throughout the week which included the Opening Concert where Cuong’s work was featured including; “Sound and Smoke” performed by the Symphonic Winds, and “Extra (ordinarily) Fancy” performed by the University Orchestra. 

Viet Cuong with three women introducing piece on stage indoors
From left to right: Dr. Ksenija Komljenovic, Dr. Carrie Pierce, Viet Cuong, Dr. Rachel Messing introducing Viet Cuong at the Opening Night Concert. Photo by William Whitworth at MARCOM

On the day before the concert, Cuong collaborated with the performers for rehearsal as he provided feedback to the performers on his pieces as part of his contributions to the SoundWaves Festival, where he will get the opportunity to show his work all across Corpus Christi. 

What I’m looking forward to is the department showing off different aspects of my work,” Cuong said. “From the small band pieces to the big band pieces. It’s also nice to work with all of the different groups here.”

The SoundWaves festival is not just limited to the Islander community, as students can present their wide arrange of work at various locations around the area including the K Space Contemporary Gallery, Coffee Waves, and the Water Dog’s Marina Houseboat Studio. 

Kimberley Peters, a senior Music Education major, expressed what benefits could come from having the SoundWaves festival reach the Corpus Christi community as a whole, instead of limiting this event to the campus. 

“ Hopefully it’ll bring more light to our music department. I know it’s very small and there’s not a lot of us, but the more eyes we have on us the better,” Peters said. “There’s so many good performers who know what they’re doing and know how to play well. We all have amazing talent here from every single section, so it’s nice to have that talent be shown somewhere that’s not just our recital hall.” 

This festival not only brings hope to provide more attention to the TAMU-CC Music Department, but to the actual Corpus Christi community as free events will be hosted all around the area. 

Our hope by moving some of our concerts off campus is to liven up the music scene and also to raise awareness of our music program, while bringing attention to these lovely spaces,” Pierce said. “Live music is something that has been hit hard by the pandemic, and we are excited to be able to offer free programs around town.”

The SoundWaves Festival will be happening from Monday, Sept. 26 to Thursday, Sept. 29.