ARCADIO “ART” GUAJARDO
Arcadio “Art” Guajardo, Jr., was born in Pharr, Texas, on March 10, 1934. He attended Buell Elementary School in Pharr and joined the band program in the sixth grade. His first instrument was a one-piece metal clarinet, which had a tendency to turn green if it wasn’t cleaned periodically. In junior high, the 7th and 8th grades were housed in the same building as the high school. So, the band director, Mr. Edwin Holt, would use the 7th and 8th grades in the high school band for added numbers. The band hall was an old wooden barracks.
Art graduated from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School in 1954. His band director Mr. Walter Whitlow, and the assistant Mr. David Gamboa, encouraged him to attend VanderCook College of Music in Chicago. So, Art packed all his worldly possessions in an old cardboard suitcase 7 inches by 15 by 26 (which he still has stored in the garage). He hitched a ride with a migrant family who was going to Indiana to work in the fields during the summer. This family of five and Art piled into an old beat-up, two-door 1936 Chevrolet, which would barely make it over the hills. From Indianapolis he took a Greyhound bus into Chicago. This was the first time Art had ever been out of the state of Texas.
When Art arrived at the Randolph Street Station, he caught a cab and the driver gruffly asked “Where to, Mack?” Art said “3219 South Michigan,…Mack!” He looked at Art kind of puzzled and asked, “Are you sure?” Art told him that was where he wanted to go. Art wasn’t quite sure why the driver had asked, but he began to get a better picture when the cab stopped in a very rough neighborhood. When Art paid him his fare, he remembered that in the big cities you tip the driver. So, he fished in his pocket and took out a fifty- cent piece. The driver looked at it and rudely hollered “What! Is this all I get?” Art yelled back “Well, that’s all I can afford. If you don’t want it I’ll take it back.” The driver kept it!
Four years later in 1958, Art graduated from VanderCook and was hired by the Brownsville ISD to be a junior high school band director. Art was also Bob Vezzetti’s assistant at the high school, instructing all the woodwinds. He was very instrumental in the high school band’s three performances at the Mid-West Convention in Chicago, Illinois, under the leadership of Bob Vezzetti. The level of excellence of the Brownsville High School bands, of that early era, was directly attributed to Art’s great teaching of the woodwind sections.
In 1974, Bob Vezzetti became Supervisor of Music, and Art was promoted to head director at the old Brownsville High School, which was re-named Hanna High School, continuing the tradition of excellence at this school.
Under his leadership of forty years, the Hanna High School “Golden Eagle Band” was a consistent Sweepstakes winner, produced many All-State students, and numerous winners of the Outstanding Musicians at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble competitions. The Hanna “Golden Eagle Band” won competitions in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Chicago, and Florida. For several years, Art wrote his own drills and arranged the performance music for the marching band. His arrangements and outstanding drill concepts and execution were cutting edge in their day.
Art’s band represented Region XV in the honor band process numerous times, and was a tremendous example for others to follow. Whenever the band performed at concerts and UIL performances, many directors would attend to experience the beauty and mastery of the performance. Many directors still remember the great performances at Buccaneer Days Music Festival in Corpus Christi, and the Six Flags competitions in Dallas.
Art was always very methodical and insistent that his band was consistent in all facets of his program. Many of his students have followed in his footsteps as band directors, and many more continue to be supporters of band and music in Brownsville, because of their experiences in this organization. Art Guajardo has been instrumental in the development of the band programs in the Rio Grande Valley, and continues to be a strong influence as he travels across the Valley as an adjudicator, clinician, arranger of band music and orchestral transcriptions, and as a friend. His bands and community bands have performed his arrangements, and the Texas A & M University Band performed one of his arrangements at their TMEA concert.
Art retired in July of 1998. He and Mary, his wife of twenty-six years, enjoy gardening and traveling. One of their favorite places is still the city of Chicago where Mary attended high school, although, she is originally from the Rio Grande Valley. Mary still enjoys teaching business courses at Hanna High School, and Art still enjoys doing clinics, judging, arranging, and helping students with their region and area materials.