I came to SMU as a junior in 1947 with hundreds of other World War Two veterans. The director of both the band and the orchestra was A. Clyde Roller, who was also a WWII vet and had conducted what was called the GI Symphony in Germany after the war ended. I had known Mr. Roller from pre-war days in the Oklahoma Symphony where he was the first oboe player.
He was a fantastic player and a great story teller. And the fact that he had been a sergeant in WWII was a major factor as he related to the many other WWII vets who made up these two main ensembles. We all had tremendous respect for his musicianship and the genuineness of he personality. In short, we all loved him. He left the year after I arrived and by a strange quirk of fate the person that followed him was my high school director from Oklahoma City, Oakley Pittman. Mr. Pittman was a great band director and I had admired him from my days in his high school band. We remained true friends after graduation and as time went by I became the commander and conductor of the Army’s top touring band, the U. S. Army Field Band with the rank of full colonel. Mr. Pittman was most proud of that achievement and felt that he had played a major role in my success. And indeed he had.
Another professor that greatly influenced my life and career was Mr. Jack Kilpatrick, a full blood Cherokee Indian. He was a composer and taught counterpoint, instrumentation, and composition. He loved all types of music and his great enthusiasm and sharp wit made every class a wonderful and lasting experience. I absolutely loved every hour spent in his classroom. In my senior year he wrote a French horn concerto for me that I premiered with the SMU Orchestra in McFarlin Auditorium and Mr. Pittman conducting. It was recorded on the old wax records of that day which probably lasted only a very few years, but the score for that concerto might possibly still be in the SMU music library.
I loved my days at SMU and respected all of the dedicated members of the music faculty.