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Evelio Villarreal - Class of 2022

Evelio C. Villarreal was born in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 1955, to Evelio F. and Oralia C. Villarreal. His father was a pharmacist who graduated from The University of Texas after serving his country in World War II.
Evelio’s father was also very active as a community activist and served on many civic boards throughout his life. His mother was a housewife and had several jobs over the years that supported the family. Evelio has three older sisters. Linda was the oldest, followed by the twins, Chris and Marie. Since they were nine and eight years older, being the only male and youngest child had its advantages growing up. In 1959, the Villarreal family moved to San Angelo, Texas, where Evelio started his education at Glenmore Elementary.

Evelio started beginning band on percussion in the seventh grade at Thomas A. Edison Junior High and was taught by the band director, Mr. Don Hayes, who would be a major influence in Evelio’s life. In the eighth grade, Evelio was promoted to the top band (it was the only band) and experienced marching band playing the snare drum in the eighth and ninth grade. Mr. Hayes always selected music that was interesting and challenging, which made concert season very enjoyable.

Evelio attended Central High School where his band directors were Mr. Homer Anderson and Mr. David Pennock. Mr. Homer Anderson started the Central High School band program in 1934 and would retire in 1974 after forty years of service. Mr. David Pennock was the assistant band director who directed orchestra and the jazz ensemble which met after school. Mr. Pennock was an excellent trumpet player, phenomenal musician, and a master teacher that got the best from his students. This would have a lasting impact on Evelio. Evelio enjoyed his high school musical experience but was not serious about practicing. He did manage to make the All District and Region Band on percussion, and All Region Orchestra on timpani. During his high school years, Evelio was also involved in many activities and clubs outside of band. Evelio graduated from Central High School in 1973, served as drum major, and received the John Philip Sousa Award.

Evelio attended Angelo State University as a chemistry major but continued to play in the marching and concert band since he had received a small music scholarship. During Evelio’s second year, Mr. Harris Brinson was hired as the new band director at Angelo State University. Mr. Brinson’s leadership helped the ASU band program improve and grow throughout Evelio’s time in the band. In his third year at ASU and still a chemistry major, Evelio’s junior high director, Mr. Don Hayes, asked Evelio to work with his percussion ensemble. Evelio went, and even though he did not know what he was doing, he had a great time and was hooked! The following semester, he changed his major to music education. Evelio would go on to serve as drum major at ASU, be selected as the Outstanding Upperclassman, and would eventually graduate from Angelo State University with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. He thanks Harris Brinson and David Fennell for their mentorship.

Evelio’s first job was at his alma mater, Thomas A. Edison Jr. High in San Angelo. Even though he did not know much, the students were great and worked hard. It was a great learning experience for Evelio. His next job was as an assistant working with Gary Wylie at Central High School. Evelio learned a lot from Gary who was a phenomenal musician and arranger. They attended the first DCI contest in Dallas, the Festival of Drums and Bugles at Lake Highlands High School, and were amazed by all the drum corps. Because of this, the Central High School marching band was one of the first in the state to go “full drum corps.” They placed third at the first UIL State Marching Band Contest in 1979 and fourth in 1980. The success of the drumline at various drumline contests led to a place on the percussion staff of the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps. Being around Marty Hurley, the percussion staff, and Phantom Regiment drumline was exponential to Evelio’s growth as a teacher and is one experience that he treasures. While at Central High School, Evelio’s first two All State percussionists were Mark Wessels and Kennan Wylie. He is extremely proud of what they have accomplished and credits them for making him a better teacher and percussionist.

Evelio followed Gary Wylie to David Crockett High School in Austin, Texas, as his assistant in 1982. The Crockett marching band had been very successful and the marching band built on that success by winning the Westlake Marching Festival, placing fifth at the UIL State Marching Band Contest, and doing well at the UIL spring concert and sightreading contests.

In 1983, Charlie Casillas convinced Evelio to move to the Dallas area for a percussion job which did not materialize. Fortunately, one of Evelio’s friends, Fred Velez, said they needed percussion help in Plano and introduced him to some of the Plano band directors at TBA, which included Abby Gullett, assistant band director at Williams High School. Little did Evelio and Abby know this would lead to them getting married! Larry Tucker hired Evelio as a percussion and drumline instructor at Plano East Senior High, its feeder high schools, and middle schools. Evelio also taught for Jerry Finnell and Fred Velez at Vines High School and Ken Valiant at Haggard Middle School in the Plano ISD. Tom Shine, whom Evelio had met several years before, contacted Evelio about working in Duncanville teaching private lessons and working with the high school drumline. Splitting time between Plano and Duncanville meant for some very long days and nights, but Evelio was fortunate to be around so many great band directors in Plano and Duncanville during that time. He was fortunate to perform with the Dallas Wind Symphony, directed by the late Howard Dunn at their first TBA concert and first TMEA concert directed by Robert Floyd. It was during this time crazy time that he and Abby Gullett, the assistant band director at Williams, would spend many hours together which led them to getting married on June 9, 1984. It was a whirlwind romance!

In 1989, Evelio and Abby were hired by Tom Shine to join the band staff in Duncanville, Texas. Evelio worked with Tom Shine, Brian Merrill and Mike Rowden at the high school while Abby was the new head director at Reed Middle School. It was a special time and place, with special people. The next seven years were full of many incredible musical experiences and professional growth. These include a UIL State Marching Band Championship, a BOA Southwest Regional Championship, two finalist placements at the BOA Grand Nationals, and a performance at the Midwest Clinic. Evelio is eternally grateful to Tom, Brian and Mike for sharing their friendship and knowledge. He would also like to recognize Abby Villarreal, Jeff King, Verda Shine, Rich Williams and Gary Goodwin who were the other Duncanville directors during his time there. While at Duncanville, Evelio started working on his master’s degree with Tom Bennett at Texas A&M University Commerce where he was able to reconnect with Eddie Green whom he met years before. Mr. Green began working with the Duncanville bands, and Evelio was fortunate to continue this association with him until he retired in 2020.

Jerry Thomas hired Evelio in 1996 as his assistant at Plano East Senior High where he assumed responsibility for the marching band, jazz ensemble and symphonic band. Eddie Green came to Plano East that same year and worked with the Plano East bands for the next twenty-four years. Some notable achievements occurred during this time such as advancing to the UIL State Marching Band Contest for the first time in the school’s history in 1998 and a performance at the Midwest Clinic in 2001, which was another career highlight. In 1999, Evelio completed his Masters Degree in Music at Texas A&M University Commerce. The Plano East Band program continued to grow, and John Brennan was a welcomed addition to the band staff in 2002. In 2005, while driving to Arkansas to spend Thanksgiving with Abby’s parents, John Benzer called Evelio and told him that Mr. Green wanted him to write the percussion books for their new band method book being published by Hal Leonard entitled Essential Musicianship for Band. Collaborating with Eddie Green, John Benzer and David Bertman on this project was an amazing experience, and he hopes that future generations of band directors will benefit from the information in these books. In 2006, Evelio succeeded Jerry Thomas as Director of Bands at Plano East. Evelio is eternally grateful to Jerry for his wisdom, knowledge, trust, and friendship. Evelio’s goal at Plano East was to build on what Larry Tucker and Jerry Thomas had established before him. As Director of Bands at Plano East, the wind ensemble earned the UIL Sweepstakes award every year, was a TMEA 6A Honor Band Finalist five times, was selected a National Winner by the Mark of Excellence National Wind Band Honors project ten times, and was named Best In Class at numerous music festivals. Evelio had the experience of a lifetime conducting the Plano East Wind Ensemble at Chicago’s Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York. The John Philip Sousa Foundation awarded the Sudler Shield to the Plano East marching band and selected the Plano East Wind Ensemble as the recipient of the Sudler Flag of Honor. In 2017, The Plano East band program was honored with the Earl D. Irons Program of Distinction by Phi Beta Mu International Fraternity. Evelio was fortunate to work with some dedicated directors and mentors in Plano such as Larry Tucker, Jerry Thomas, Jana Harvey, John Brennan, Travis Smith, Abby Villarreal, Pete Tolhuizen, Lee Redfern, Nicholas Williams, John Mays, Nick Thomas, Nick Beaudet, Josh Kurzweil, Ryan Albert, Lindsay Barnhill, Nick Seibert, Nicola Chappel Diaz, Eric Petrinowitz, Mark Caspersen, Annette Mitchell, Derek Phillips and his mentor Eddie Green, who is still a major influence to him.

For many years, Evelio served on the State Board of TMEA as President of Region XXIV and XXV, the Region UIL Music Advisory Committee and was a multi-year honoree of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. Evelio is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Bandmasters Association, Texas Music Adjudicators Association, Kappa Kappa Psi National Band Fraternity, Percussive Arts Society and Phi Beta Mu International where he was President of Alpha Chapter from 2020 to 2022. Evelio was inducted into the American School Band Directors Association and in 2006, Evelio was awarded the Legion of Honor by the John Philip Sousa Foundation for excellence in teaching and contributions to high school bands. Evelio was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership by the Plano East PTA and in 2019, received the UIL Sponsor Excellence Award. Evelio retired in 2020 and has maintained an active schedule as a wind band consultant, clinician and adjudicator. In 2021, he joined the faculty at Texas A&M Commerce as an Adjunct Professor of Music supervising and mentoring student teachers majoring in music education and volunteers his time as a Trustee on the Board of Directors for the Lone Star Wind Orchestra, where he serves as chair of the education committee. He was totally surprised to learn that the band hall at Plano East was to be formally dedicated as the Evelio Villarreal Band Hall in 2022.

Evelio and Abby have two daughters, Melissa and Rebecca, who were both in band. Melissa played the clarinet and Rebecca was a percussionist. Having two band directors for parents made for some hectic and interesting times, but things always seemed to work out. Melissa and Rebecca were never able to be in Abby’s bands, but Evelio was fortunate to have them in band with him at Plano East where both were members of the Wind Ensemble. They are very proud of their daughters and how music is still a very important part of their lives. Evelio is very humbled and would like to thank Barbara Lambrecht and the Hall of Fame Committee for this high honor of being inducted into the Phi Beta Mu Alpha Chapter Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame. He would also like to thank all the students, parents, colleagues and his family that made it all possible.

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