Music patron starts endowment for mariachi studies
Aug 01, 2011 | 2125 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jane K. Williamson
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Former Refugio resident Jane Kelley Williamson’s music runs deep. An accomplished pianist and saxophonist, Williamson was married to Tommy Williamson, a former Refugio band director in the 1950s.

Because music has enriched her and her family’s life for as long as she can remember, she wants more students to experience the exposure she had. Thus was born the Jane Kelley Williamson Scholarship Endowment for Mariachi Education.

“I’ve always loved mariachi music,” said Williamson. “I grew up in Refugio and I’ve heard it for years. The university has a wonderful program with many talented students, so what better way to support it.”

Williamson is the mother of UTB/TSC Department of Music Chair Dr. Sue Zanne Urbis. Urbis said she is very honored and touched for her mother to be the first to establish an endowment for mariachi studies.

“My mother always leads by example and she recognized a need and chose to help.” said Urbis. “She and my late father, a renowned bandmaster, spent many years financially helping their students attain college degrees.”

Former RHS band student Andy Pate recalls the “amazingly short time Tommy Williamson built a fantastic band program.”

“His second year, we won a first in the marching contest and from that point onward, the program flew skyward,” Pate said. “He was fantastic! And that is an understatement. Also a perfectionist, sloppy was never accepted, only perfection.”

Pate says he went to El Campo where he was much beloved. Eventually, he was honored as a member of the Texas High School Band Directors Hall of Honor.

Urbis says her mother moved to Brownsville in 2006 and began attending the Patron of the Arts concerts. She is a tremendous supporter of the work of Professor Antonio Briseño and his mariachi students.

“The young students going through the program are all very talented,” said Williamson. “I admire them very much. Music has always been an important part of our family and enriched our lives. I think this is very important to bring to these kids and I hope more people realize it.”

The endowment will provide scholarship opportunities for students enrolled in the mariachi program pursuing a bachelor’s degree in music education or music performance that have a minimum of a 3.0 Grade Point Average and are enrolled full time and complete at least 15 hours a semester.

Students in the program play in two of the university’s ensembles, Mariachi Escorpión or Feminil Luna Azteca, both under the direction of Briseño.

The groups perform in many university and community events. They have traveled to New Mexico to compete in the Mariachi Espectacular Competition and to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, to represent Texas at a mariachi conference.

Mariachi Escorpion were invited to perform in 2005 at the Presidential Inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C.

For more information about giving to the Jane Kelley Williamson Scholarship Endowment for Mariachi Studies, contact the Office of Development at 956-882-4324.
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