CCISD alumnus, percussionist selected for UH's Texas Music Festival summer residency program
One look at Aaron Guillory and one might assume he's a football player, or maybe a bodyguard. At 6 foot 5 inches and 260 pounds, he looks built for those kinds of careers.
But Guillory, 23, doesn't want a ball in his hands. He would rather hold mallets and sticks.
Guillory is a percussionist with an ear for orchestral music.
"I didn't realize I had a knack for it until I auditioned for the high school band at Clear Creek (High School) and was one of three freshmen to make it," said Guillory, who was born in Pasadena, and raised in Kemah. "I didn't even think I was good at it."
His accomplishments indicate otherwise.
Guillory has just returned from studying in California with a Los Angeles Philharmonic percussionist.
He recently played with the Houston Symphony and remains on its call list.
He earned All-State accolades three years out of four at Clear Creek, graduated from Baylor in 2009 with a bachelor of music/emphasis on performance and recently graduated with a master's degree in music from the Rice University Shepherd School of Music, which he attended on full scholarship.
He's been selected to participate this summer in the 22nd season of the Texas Music Festival summer residency program at the University of Houston Moores School of Music.
Overall, the festival auditioned 435 musicians from around the world, selecting only 95 for the program. Of the 44 percussionists who applied, six were accepted.
Alan Austin, artistic director of the Texas Music Festival, said the event has a very strict audition process in which applicants must prove they can play all areas of percussion.
"Then we rank them all, and Aaron came in at the top six," Austin said. "We are thrilled to have him join us this summer."
Guillory can play drum kits, timpani, xylophone, marimba, cymbals, snare drum, bass drum, woodblocks, gongs and chimes.
But it all began with something much more primitive, said Guillory's mother Brenda Guillory .
"It actually started with pots, pans and wooden spoons at a young age," Brenda said.
When Aaron Guillory was in fourth grade, he noticed an old drum set in the garage and asked his dad to set it up for him.
"I just wanted to bang around on it," Aaron Guillory said.
He eventually learned that his dad, Wallace Guillory, had been a drummer in a high school rock band.
Furthermore, Aaron Guillory's paternal grandmother, Jackie Sweetser, played drums in a country band.
"Aaron has a God-given talent," Brenda Guillory said. "I knew he could excel at it."
Her son intends to spend a few years focusing on teaching, playing and making his rounds on the audition circuit before heading back to school for his doctorate.
Aaron Guillory said he would love to go to Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, or Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York.
Maybe by then he'll have had the chance to try his hand banging on a tabla.
"It's an Indian drum that's a really hard instrument to play," Aaron Guillory said.
"In India, you start learning when you're 3 years old and it takes years to master. It's one of my favorite instruments, but I'll probably never be able to play it."
"Never say never," is what his mother likes to tell him.
"I always tell him to shoot for the moon, because at the very least, he will end up among the stars," she said.
His dream is to play music for a living.
"For any modest amount of money," Aaron Guillory said. "I just want to be an established performer within an orchestra setting."
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