The University of Texas at Arlington
There have been only three directors of The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) Jazz Orchestra in its entire 58 year history. Of those three, Dan Burkholder arguably had the greatest impact on the program. Not only does he hold the record for the longest tenure spanning 29 years from 1947 through 1976, but he has expressed his love of music to thousands of eager students through his teaching, his giving, and his example.
Dan Burkholder was hired by then leader of the UT Arlington Music Department, the late Colonel Earl Irons. Irons discovered Burkholder at El Paso High School where he directed a choir of several hundred students. Burkholder took over the UTA choir in the fall of 1947, which had about 20 students at the time, and organized the first jazz ensemble called the Collegians. Within just two years of Burkholder's arrival, the University, then known as Arlington State College, featured the One Hundred Singing Rebels choir. Shortly after coming to Arlington, Burkholder also formed his own professional dance band called the "Danny Burke Orchestra" which included many professional musicians in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
Throughout his twenty-nine years on the UT Arlington faculty, Burkholder's UTA jazz band performed with notable celebrities such as Dean Martin and Bob Hope. The choir program flourished under his leadership as well, and many of the students went on to become regionally and nationally known stage and television personalities. Morgan Woodward, a young baritone, later became a well-known screen and television actor appearing in the movie Cool Hand Luke and the Dallas TV series. Persis Forster, a vocalist, went on to found the Miss Persis Dance Studio in Arlington and was a frequent star of many Casa Maņana productions. UTA alumna Anna Waynette Vandergriff, whose husband Tom is the current County Judge of Tarrant County and a former Arlington mayor and US Congressman, served as accompanist on piano for the choir while Dan was director. "I have good memories of my days accompanying for the choirs under Dan's direction... Dan was dedicated to and respected by his students. He was a wonderful band man and enjoyed building a successful choir program during his tenure."
|Daniel C. Burkholder|
After his retirement in 1976, Burkholder continued to teach music appreciation courses and was later honored with the award of UTA Distinguished Honorary Alumnus in 1995. Throughout his retirement years, Burkholder was a very generous scholarship donor to the jazz and choir programs. "Dan was such a huge influence throughout the history of the UT Arlington music department and a generous donor to the scholarship program." said Bill Snodgrass, Burkholder's successor. Since 1976, more than thirty of UTA's most outstanding jazz students have been recipients of the Dan Burkholder Jazz Scholarship Award. This award, which encourages young jazz and vocal musicians to develop their talents, will continue through an endowment provided by Burkholder. Before he passed away in April of 2005 at age 90, Burkholder established plans for a second endowment to be funded by his estate which benefits students, regardless of major, who are enrolled in music courses. The Daniel C. Burkholder Scholarship for Musicians is invested in the Long Term Fund. Through his generosity, Dan Burkholder's love of music will resound at The University of Texas at Arlington, inspiring students for many years to come.