Galena Park ISD Alumni Spotlight

  • GPISD is proud to recognize Wayne Oquin, a 1996 graduate of North Shore High School. While in GPISD, Oquin received top honors as a band and choir student which included Texas All-State Band and Texas All-State Choir.  Upon graduation from high school, he attended Southwest Texas State University where he was named a Lyndon Baines Johnson Outstanding Senior and is recognized as a Distinguished Alum.

    In 2008, upon completion of his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at The Juilliard School, Dr. Oquin received the Richard F. French Prize for best dissertation. As a Juilliard student, he also received the Arthur Friedman Award for best orchestral composing and the Palmer Dixon Composition Prize.  In 2009, he was appointed to the Juilliard Graduate Studies faculty where he specializes in Beethoven and the American Symphony.  He is widely known for his contributions to the symphonic wind literature.  His Tower Ascending, a tribute to the rebuilding of ground zero, has received more than one hundred performances throughout the U.S. and abroad. Affirmation, commissioned by the American Bandmaster’s Association and the University of Florida, was named winner of the 2014 National Band Association’s William D. Revelli Award.  Both works have been recorded by The United States Air Force Band. This year, in recognition of its extensive collaboration with Dr. Oquin, the Air Force Band honored him as a composer with the prestigious Commander’s Medal of Excellence.

    When asked if there were any influential educators who played a role in shaping him, Dr. Oquin stated, “It is no exaggeration to say that the basic musicianship skills I learned from GPISD I am still using to this very day. Many of these same fundamental building blocks I learned from Sam Harris (high school choir) and Ellie Cleveland (high school band) I am now imparting to my own students on a daily basis at The Juilliard School. 

    Never in my twelve years at GPISD did I have a bad teacher. Even my non-music instructors played such an important role in who I am today. I cannot imagine better teachers than Beverly Cooksey (third grade), Molly Midkiff (sixth grade social studies), Jerry Jones (sixth grade science), Darlene Beauvais (seventh grade English), Allison Burnett (tenth grade English), Mary Helen Anderson (middle school librarian), or Shirley Neeley (second grade principal). Many of these teachers worked to enrich my talents by seeing something in me at an age when my own academic ability was not so readily apparent.

    Having taught for the past seventeen years at Juilliard I understand, in a way I never could have otherwise, the unique challenges that face teachers today. While I believe there is no other profession more demanding, rewarding, and affirming than that of a classroom faculty, I also know that there is also no other field so little appreciated.  The more I teach the more I appreciate those who taught me.”

    Wayne is proud to have been recognized as a Distinguished Alum from Galena Park ISD.  “When I was recognized by the District, I thanked by name, every teacher of every course I had taken from first through twelfth grade in order, and I can still recite this list from memory.  Above my desk on the center shelf of my Juilliard office I have proudly displayed this giant marble trophy given to me by my home school district. Sometimes when I’m working very late—composing, grading papers, or writing what seems to be an endless sea of student letters of recommendation, all under tight deadlines—I look up at this award, which means so much to me, and from the fifth floor of Lincoln Center I think of Sam Harris, Ellie Cleveland, and so many others who opened the doors to my career.”

    Dr. Oquin currently serves as Chair of Juilliard’s long-standing Ear Training Department and also serves a member of the Theory and Graduate Studies faculties. He is known for his rigorous standards and unwavering precision.  To learn more about Dr. Wayne Oquin or to listen to audio recording of his compositions, please go to

    Wayne Oquin