Spears, Davis Earn 2023 Dix Stallings Award

Allison Spears and Grace Davis Dix Stallings Award 2023
Photographed (from left-to-right): Allison Spears and Grace Davis

Grace Davis of Cabot and Allison Spears of Van Buren were selected as winners of the 2023 Dr. Dix Stallings Award for most outstanding senior band members at Arkansas Tech University.

Over the course of their four years in the ATU band program, Davis and Spears helped the Arkansas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble become the 2022 recipient of The American Prize in band and wind ensemble performance, earn the privilege of performing at Carnegie Hall, record multiple world premiere compositions under the Pat and Roger Wattam Archival Recording Series and perform the No. 1 catalog entry into the newly-endowed ATU Hal Cooper Repertoire Collection.

Davis served on the student staff for the ATU marching band, “Arkansas’ Band of Distinction,” as teaching assistant and as an instructor for the color guard. She played oboe for the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble and was featured during the band’s February 2023 concert performance of “Concerto for Oboe” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

“It was an absolute honor to have been awarded the Dix Stallings Award, and it means even more that I was awarded it alongside my best friend, Allison,” said Davis. “The music department has poured so much into me over the last four years, and in return, I’ve done my best to pay it forward by serving the department the best I can. Being a member of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and music department has truly shaped me into the person I am today, and I am forever grateful for it. I’ve met the most incredible people who I will hold onto for a lifetime, and I’ve had the privilege of learning from some of the most top-notch professors in the nation. Being a part of the Dix Stallings legacy is so incredibly amazing and I am beyond grateful that my best friend and I are now a part of that legacy.”

Spears was co-section leader for percussion with the ATU marching band. Her work on marimba was spotlighted on the Ney Rosauro composition “Concerto for Marimba and Wind Ensemble” during a February 2023 ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble concert and she served as guest conductor for the ATU Concert Band’s rendition of “Africata” by Quincy Hilliard that same month.

“The Dix Stallings Award is something that I have seen awarded to fantastic musicians and people,” said Spears. “It means so much to me to be in their line of continuing this tradition of excellence. Winning this award alongside my best friend, Grace, was something unexpected but so honorable. Grace and I have been best friends since living in our freshman dorm together. I could not imagine college without her. Not only am I so grateful for this award, but I am sincerely grateful to have been a member of the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble for the past four years. I have grown in so many ways through this ensemble and I hope to continue growing as I lead in the field of teaching soon.”

The namesake of the most outstanding senior band member award at ATU was a 1955 graduate of Arkansas Tech and a member of the university staff from 1974-95. Stallings’ duties over the years including overseeing operations such as admissions, alumni, news bureau, public relations and the annual fund drive.

Prior to his service at Arkansas Tech, Stallings worked in the public schools at Star City, Smackover and El Dorado as a band director.

Click below to view a video of Dr. Daniel A. Belongia, ATU director of bands and professor of music, recognizing the 2023 senior members of the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble.