UT Tyler Patriot Singers Rise to National Level
December 8, 2005

Patriot Singers in WashingtonAfter two years of performing at local and regional levels, it was time for the UT Tyler Patriot Singers to take their first step into the national level. On Dec. 3, the Patriot Singers performed at the White House in Washington, D.C. as part of the White House Holiday Open House.

 “Singing in the White House representing UT Tyler was a huge privilege,” said Stephanie Comer, Lindale senior.

In mid-September, a DVD, audio cassette tape, group resume and application were sent to the White House along with recommendations from Congressmen Louis Gohmert and Ralph Hall and Senator John Cornyn.

The three-year-old select performing ensemble has performed on-campus during UT Tyler events, held an annual musical theatre review and performed locally at high schools. Last year, the UT Tyler Patriot Singers performed at Sea World in San Antonio. 

“A national-level, competitive performing opportunity was the next step for the group, and the White House turned out to be that opportunity,” said Dr. Mark Johnson, director of the UT Tyler Patriot Singers. “The trip provided real life, professional music performing experience for the group. Additionally, because we were in the nation's capitol, students brought home a national perspective of what being an American is all about.”

For Jennifer Fuller, Dallas sophomore, visiting Washington, D.C. really hit home. Her fiancé has been stationed in Iraq for two months.

“It was neat to see all the memorials. You don’t really see that in the media here and you get such a distorted view when discussion begins about military and why we are over there fighting,” said Fuller. “The trip gave me an appreciation that people understand the sacrifices that are made, and I am even more proud of him than I was before.”

In addition to the memorials, the students visited other historical sites, including the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian, the National Archives and The Price of Freedom, an exhibit of military history from the revolutionary war to the present war in Iraq.

“In this exhibit I saw pieces of the World Trade Center South Building and it really put things in perspective for me about the war and what we are doing over there,” said Matt Altman, Palestine senior. “That used to be part of something so important, it used to hold up one of the tallest buildings in the world and now here it is crumpled inside a glass box in a museum.”

“In addition to the historical experience, the trip really gave the group an opportunity to come together, said Dr. Johnson. “My goal is to provide the students with broad-based, pre-professional performing experience.”

The Patriot Singers are now looking at music festivals in Europe, including Austria and Italy, to move into the international performance level possibly in the next two years, added Johnson.

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