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HPU Jazz Combo performs at Eastland Jazz Festival

Eastland Jazz FestivalBROWNWOOD – April 20, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Jazz Combo was featured in concert at the third annual Eastland Jazz Festival held recently at the Majestic Theatre in Eastland. In addition to performing a concert, the HPU Jazz Combo, a small group of musicians selected from the HPU Jazz Ensemble, presented a workshop on jazz improvisation for the attendees of the festival with Stephen Cox, festival host and HPU alumnus.

The HPU jazz program has been under the direction of Stephen Goacher, professor of music, since 1999.

“We are tremendously proud of our students in the jazz ensembles and of the mentoring leadership provided by Professor Goacher,” said Dr. Richard Fiese, dean of HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts. “The creativity and performance skills practiced and demonstrated by the students in our jazz groups reflect the core of what we are trying to impart to all of our music graduates as 21st century musicians.”

Performers at the Eastland Jazz Festival included Alex Atkinson, junior from Haslett; Ryan Contreras, junior from Early; Abraham Cooper, freshman from Early; Angel Hernandez, senior from Brownwood; Steven Ray Palousek, freshman from Holland; Garrett Ratliff, junior from Cherokee; and Isaac Williams, freshman from May.

HPU’s jazz program has a longstanding tradition of excellence. HPU jazz musicians were featured at the Opening Ceremonies of the Texas Music Educator Association conference in San Antonio in 2003 and the jazz ensembles were awarded “Outstanding College Band” awards at the Temple Jazz Festivals in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2014 in both the Big Band and Combo Divisions. The HPU Big Band also performed at the prestigious North Texas Jazz Festival in 2009 and at the first Eastland Jazz Festival in 2014.

For more information, contact HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts at (325) 649-8500.

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2016 semester at Howard Payne University. HPU offers a variety of financial aid options including the Heart of Texas Scholarship, which awards $60,000 to students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at (325) 649-8020 or by e-mail at


Photo cutline: HPU’s Jazz Combo was featured in concert recently at the Eastland Jazz Festival. Pictured, from left, are Abraham Cooper, Steven Ray Palousek, Garrett Ratliff, Ryan Contreras, Angel Hernandez, Alex Atkinson, Isaac Williams and Stephen Goacher.