December 18, 2019

SEC Student Music Ensemble Highlights Football Championship Weekend

Members of the SEC Student Music Ensemble meet Commissioner Greg Sankey during the 2019 SEC Football Championship Weekend.
Members of the SEC Student Music Ensemble meet Commissioner Greg Sankey during the 2019 SEC Football Championship Weekend.

By: SEC Staff
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)

During the 2019 SEC Football Championship Game weekend, eight student musicians shared their talents with SEC administrators, staff and fans as part of the fifth SEC Student Music Ensemble.

The group performed for an audience of approximately 700 during the SEC Legends Dinner, and on Friday they welcomed approximately 30,000 fans to either the SEC Pregame Hospitality Party or Dr Pepper SEC Fanfare at the Georgia World Congress Center on Saturday.

This year’s ensemble featured David Ray, a bassist from the University of Alabama, alongside Felipe Antonio, a guitarist from the University of Arkansas; Blake Brooks and Jacob O’Donnell, a drummer and saxophonist from the University of Kentucky, respectively; Terrell McGowan on trumpet and Quayshun Shumpert on trombone from the University of Mississippi; Terrell Gilmore, a saxophonist from Mississippi State University; and Morgan McGee, a pianist from the University of South Carolina.

Miles Osland – Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Saxophone at the University of Kentucky – directed the mix of graduates and undergraduates. Dr. Sam Griffith, Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri, served as assistant director, and will return next year to conduct the 2020 iteration of the ensemble.

“Performing with other incredibly talented musicians from across the SEC was not only gratifying but also a learning experience,” said Shumpert. “Mr. Osland and Dr. Griffith were also great, and being able to get feedback from professors from other schools is invaluable in my progress as a musician.”

These students were selected by their universities to participate in the unique group, and they had two hours to rehearse before the first show, which was during the SEC Legends Dinner reception.

The SEC Student Music Ensemble first performed during the 2015 SEC Symposium in Atlanta, and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey asked that a group be invited to join in the festivities tied to the Conference’s football championship game, also in Atlanta.

“The performing arts are an important component of the educational experience, and we are pleased to provide a showcase for these students and the SEC universities they represent,” said Sankey. “The SEC is uniquely positioned to feature these talented young people, and the student music ensemble is another example of our commitment to higher education.”

Plans are already underway for the 2020 ensemble as several universities, alongside Dr. Griffith, will start to identify students soon.

“The SEC Student Music Ensemble is a great opportunity for our students to interact and perform with the best and the most talented,” said Osland. “I’m honored to conduct some of the finest students the Conference has to offer, so kudos to the SEC for supporting the arts.”