While the Val A. Browning Center holds so many beginnings for students, on March 24 it will fill with finality as professor Thomas Root performs in his last concert as director of the WSU Band.
Root has taught music at Weber State University for just over 30 years, focusing on music theory, composition and the WSU Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble. His final concert will exclusively feature music he’s composed during his time at WSU, performed by the WSU Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble and the WSU combined choirs.
“We’ve always done concerts together back as far as I can remember,” professor Mark Henderson, head of choral studies at WSU, said. Henderson explained that he and Root arrived at WSU within one year of each other. Since then, Henderson said the two have been happily working together on various projects.
Henderson said he would describe Root as an ideal colleague—personable, cooperative and very supportive.
“I never composed in college because we were required to do what was in academic style at the time, and I wasn’t interested in that,” Henderson said. “He was composing something almost once a year and I thought that was great. I think it kind of freed me to go ahead and compose the kind of things I wanted.”
Henderson said he recalled a time when he and Root attended a performance with a group of students. During the performance, Root whispered to the students, pointing out a favorite chord of his, an augmented sixth chord. Henderson was impressed by this experience and admired how Root continued to analyze the music and teach his students even though they weren’t in an academic setting.
Andrew Stapley, WSU senior in music education, said he appreciates Root’s attitude towards students and their unique situations.
“He really cares about everyone and he really wants them to succeed,” Stapley said. “As far as being a professor, he’s willing to work with all types of situations and help students do their best.”
Catie Omer, a graduate in vocal pedagogy, was one such student. Omer thought she would be able to graduate with no problems, but found to her great distress that she had overlooked one rarely taught class. Root offered to give Omer private lessons in the subject so she could proceed with her plans to graduate rather than having to take another semester worth of classes for one required class.
“My voice teacher Gary Sorensen once said (Root) is truly the salt of the Earth, and I would have to agree with him,” Omer said. “(Root) does anything and everything for his students for them to be successful.”
In addition, Omer said much of Root’s music is easy to enjoy, even if the listener doesn’t have a background in music.
“It reminds me a lot of movie music,” Omer said. “I know (Root) aspired to be a film composer when he was younger, and that very much shows through in his style. When you perform and listen to his music, you get that big, grand feeling.”
Root’s final concert will be March 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Austad Theater of the Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $6 and $7 and are available online or at the box office prior to the performance.