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Faculty Focus

Edward Surface: The Music Man

June 04, 2008

After several years of teaching college students, Dr. Edward Surface figured he was finally prepared for his next adventure, a summer of touring with the Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Circus.

A member of the Angelo State University music faculty since 1976, Surface went on the road with the circus in the early 80’s, playing trombone and tuba in the “greatest show on Earth.” It was not just a musical experience, but also a lesson in diversity.

“There was an acrobat team from China, jugglers from Hungary and many others,” Surface said. “With the circus, you are around so many different cultures with people that speak nine or 10 different languages, plus you are virtually in a moving city. It was fascinating.”

After working with acrobats, clowns and lion tamers, Surface returned to ASU with a new appreciation for his students.

Currently the director of the ASU Brass Choir, Surface has also taken his act on the road throughout the U.S., Europe and Canada. His credits include live performances accompanying such artists as B.J. Thomas, Anacanni, Harry Connick, Sr., Anita Bryant and Janie Fricke. He recently completed a musical tour of Mexico with fellow ASU music professor Dr. John Irish.

But, wherever he travels, Surface loves to return home.

“San Angelo is a gold mine as far as the arts are concerned,” Surface said. “We have a symphony here that has developed over the years while the whole arts dimension in this community has radically changed. It has been fun to be a part of that through my association with the symphony and with ASU. That is what caused me to stay all these years, I kind of feel like a pioneer.”

Surface holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and his Ph.D. from Texas Tech. When not performing, he enjoys the outdoors, traveling and golf.

“Teaching here and living in this community is an honor,” Surface said. “I feel honored not only teaching, but performing with some of the people like John Irish, the high level of professionalism and musicianship. There have been times when I haven’t been around that caliber of musician to work with and it makes a big difference in your life.”

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