From Austin to Carnegie hall
The McCallum band program is comprised of many diverse ensembles that perform and compete throughout the school year. In June 2020, the entire band will be performing in New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall, marking McCallum’s seventh appearance at this iconic concert hall.
McCallum High School was The 2015-2016 GRAMMY Signature School – recognized as the Top U.S. Public High School for Excellence in Music Education by the GRAMMY® Foundation. This award is only presented to one high school in the United States out of over 20,000 high school music programs invited to apply.
The McCallum band program is known for its superior musicianship and the McCallum Marching Band brings that musicianship to the football field during Central Texas’ famous Friday Night Football games. This year’s field show -- Forever in Stone - is named for Mr. Henry Stone, a MAC band parent who sadly passed away this year. Henry was unsurpassed in his support of MAC Band and a friend to all who knew him. Through Forever in Stone, we honor the life and work of this incredible man.
In 2017 the band performed in the UIL 5A State Marching Band Championships at The Alamodome competing against some of the top bands from across Texas. In 2016 the band was named a National Winner of the 2016 National Wind Band Honors Competition sponsored by The Foundation for Music Education. It was also named a finalist in the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Honor Band Competition. An AISD band has been named a finalist only three times in the history of this competition - McCallum owns two of those three spots.
McCallum’s Color Guard provides visual movement to the marching band program. A combination of music, dance, theatre and visual arts, McCallum’s Color Guard is a brilliant combination of various art forms cultivated at the McCallum Fine Arts Academy. Color Guard is offered in the Fall semester and continues in the Spring semester as a Winter Guard class.
McCallum’s three concert bands (Concert, Symphonic and Wind Ensemble) showcase a sophisticated blend of musicianship, showmanship and practice, practice, practice. In 2015-2016, the three bands produced 62 TMEA District musicians, 44 TMEA Region musicians, 19 TMEA Area musicians and seven TMEA All State musicians!
In addition, our musicians amassed 119 First Division medals at this year’s UIL Solo/Ensemble Contest, with 32 solo entries and 22 ensemble members advancing to the Texas State Solo Ensemble Contest. The Wind Ensemble (Varsity Band) is consistently recognized as one of the best concert bands in the state of Texas, named as a TMEA Honor Band Finalist in 2013 and 2015.
It's not a rock band without a drummer, and it's not a high school band program without percussion. A combination of precision, complexity and fun, McCallum’s percussion ensemble drives the marching band, anchors the concert bands and stands tall on its own as one of the top groups in the state of Texas and the United States.
McCallum’s percussionists are the 2015 Percussive Arts Society International Percussion Ensemble winner and were featured in concert at the P.A.S.I.C International Convention in San Antonio. The marching percussion section also placed first in the 5A division at the 2015 Dripping Springs Drumline Contest and received the Best Snareline, Best Bassline and Best Tenorline awards.
The McCallum Jazz Ensemble showcases the exceptional talents of our very versatile musicians in the band program. This year, TMEA Jazz auditions recognized six Region players and four Area players from our jazz program. The McCallum Jazz Ensemble won Outstanding Jazz Ensemble at the very competitive Bill Watrous Jazz Festival at Sam Houston State University in 2013 and Winter Park Music Festival in 2014. The Jazz Ensemble performs at many school and community events throughout the school year.
Knights of Steel
The McCallum Knights of Steel is among the most sought after steel drum bands in central Texas, playing 25-30 public performances each year. The Knights of Steel have twice been a feature ensemble at the Midwest Band and Orchestra International Convention and have performed at the 2006 and 2011 Percussive Arts Society International, Convention, alongside the Austin-based Inside Out Community Steel Band. The Knights of Steel are perfect for many different functions, everything from birthday, pool and graduation parties to corporate events and conventions.
The Samba Knights, a Brazilian drum group, is an after school program at McCallum High School. It was created in 2013-14 through an Austin Creative Classroom Fund grant and continues to offer study of Brazilian culture and performance of the infectious Brazilian Carnival style music. Through this grant, the Samba Knights have created a community partnership with the Austin Samba School, one of the largest Samba Schools in the United States. The Austin Samba School provides instruction to McCallum students and affords them many unique side by side performance opportunities. The Samba Knights perform at school concerts, soccer games and community events throughout the school year.
Carol Nelson, director
In her 41st year at McCallum High School, Carol Nelson is Director of Bands. She received her bachelor’s (music education) and master’s (applied conducting) degrees from the University of Texas in Austin, where she was a graduate assistant for the Longhorn Band. In addition, she also received her trumpet performance certificate from the University of Texas.
Among her many honors, Ms. Nelson has been awarded the University Interscholastic League’s Denius Excellence Award for the state of Texas, Teacher of the Year at McCallum High School, and the “M” Award at McCallum High School. Ms. Nelson is a member of Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Bandmasters Association and Phi Beta Mu.
Zack Travis, associate director
This is Mr. Travis’ first year at McCallum High School. He is from Factoryville, Pennsylvania where he graduated from Lackawanna Trail High School. He went to West Chester University where he got degrees in Music Education and Euphonium Performance. While at West Chester, he performed in a variety of ensembles and worked as a marching band technician with local high schools. Mr. Travis also marched with The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps where he served as a soloist, section leader, and drum major. While at The Cadets, the corps won the 2011 DCI World Championship. After aging out, Mr. Travis taught as a brass instructor with The Boston Crusaders, The Cadets, and The Reading Buccaneers.
Mr. Travis moved to Mesquite, Texas to work at John Horn High School. While there, he directed the concert and marching bands, assisted the wind ensemble and symphonic bands, and arranged the music and wrote the drill for the marching band. While under Mr. Travis’ direction, the John Horn Marching Band made their first appearance at the 6A State Marching Contest. In his free time, Zack enjoys hiking with his wife Jolene and dog Grover.
Matt Ehlers, assistant director
Matt Ehlers is Assistant Director of Bands and Percussion Director. As Assistant Director of Bands, Mr. Ehlers conducts the Symphonic Band, Steel Band classes, high school percussion ensembles, and co-directs the JV Full Orchestra.
Mr. Ehlers was awarded McCallum High School’s “Teacher of the Year” for the 2010-2011 school year. He serves as board president of the Small Victories Foundation, a nonprofit organization that empowers individuals recovering from traumatic brain injuries through participation in the arts. During the summertime, he co-directs two annual youth steel band camps in Austin. Mr. Ehlers is an active marching percussion arranger and steel drum composer with works published by Boxfish Music and Drop6 Media. He received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of North Texas.
Jeffrey Rudy, assistant director
Jeffrey Rudy is Assistant Director of Bands at McCallum High School. Growing up in Maryland, he received an Artist Certificate in Piano Performance from the Peabody Conservatory Preparatory Program and his Bachelors Degree in Music (Applied Piano) from the University of Texas at Austin. His post-graduate conducting studies were done with Eddie Green at the University of Houston and Anthony Maiello and Col. Arnold Gabriel at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Mr. Rudy directs the Concert Band and Color Guard, assists with the Wind Ensemble and Marching Band, and teaches AP Music Theory and Collaborative Piano within the Fine Arts Academy. Now in his 34th year of teaching, he remains active as a private piano instructor and accompanist in the Austin area.