New band director plans a ’70s rock and Broadway fusion show

Blake Muse

Matthew Luttrell, director of bands, talks to the band while Drum Major Sabina Marroquin listens.
Matthew Luttrell, director of bands, talks to the band while Drum Major Sabina Marroquin listens.

One evening in 1995, on a band trip to Manhattan, Kan., two graduate assistants had a drinking contest. Matthew Luttrell remembers the evening well as part of his undergraduate experience at the University of Colorado.

The next morning, the graduate assistants didn’t show up for the trip home to Colorado. As was policy, they got left behind.

Luttrell, the new director of bands, said this memory has influenced his experience as an educator for the last 15 years.

“No matter who you are, you have to hold yourself to professional standards,” he said.

But Luttrell’s band memories don’t stop there, and he said he hopes the students he is working with now develop memories such as the time he played at Tempe, Ariz. playing against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl in 1995 while attending college at University of Colorado. The score was 30-3 at halftime.

“They were so arrogant so we just wanted to shut them up,” Luttrell said. “All we heard all week was how mediocre we were. Our [football] team destroyed them.”

Luttrell obtained his doctoral degree in wind conducting and euphonium performance from Arizona State, and has experience in opera, choir and wind ensemble.

However, he was not always involved in band. Luttrell was a football player in high school until his junior year when he sustained a knee injury. Afterward, he joined the band playing trombone.

“Music was pretty cool because I never got hit by anybody,” Luttrell said. “I didn’t think it was strong or athletic, but the discipline and dedication was more intense than sports.”

This discipline and dedication are what he  wants to convey to the 82 band members as they start preparation for their fall season, including a fusion of the ’70s rock band Chicago and the Broadway musical “Chicago,” which opened in 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre and ran 936 performances until 1977.

“I want to be a little more contemporary,” said Luttrell, who was the visiting director of bands at Adams State University and associate director of bands at University of Texas at Arlington prior to coming to Wichita Falls, said. “There will be a lot of chill styles this year. We haven’t gotten rid of the original music, but we want to get some more modern music.”

Each section of the band marched two and a half hours and played three and a half hours per day during their first week, and are still getting used to the change in style. They also had large-group rehearsals in the late afternoon.

“Luttrell knows his stuff, it’s obvious. He understands people and can relate with students really well. He gets to know you,” Andrew Carey, a freshman majoring in music, said.

Buddy Richison, a sophomore in percussion said, “I like him. He’s very energetic. Dr. A was more laid back; Dr. Luttrell expects more of us.”

His plan to develop the department includes providing students with the best musical experience possible, continue creating and adapting to the modern practice of music education and also doing things that haven’t been done, such as working with composers or solo performers. Lastlyhe hopes to develop strong, real relationships with the community at large.

Luttrell said it’s not just being the band director, but you also need to develop the department.

“First and foremost, I am an educator,” he said.

The band provides more than just an outlet for musical expression. It also offers a sense of community with the students and faculty.

“The music program is different because the people are established,” Luttrell said.

Students and faculty look forward to a promising semester and departmental development.

“There’s more discipline, and you have to become a better unit, and we hold ourselves to a standard to be a top-tier university drumline,” Richison said.

Luttrell is replacing Larry Archambo, who was the chair of the music program for seven years. Archambo joined in 1988 with a master’s degree and doctoral in instrumental conducting.

“I have to be me,” Luttrell said. “I can’t be Larry Archambo. We’re just two different people. I understand how tough it can be to transition to a new director, and I’m very sensitive to that matter.”

New band director brings jazz to campus from MWSU Campus Watch on Vimeo.

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