Dr. Brent Watkins, Artistic Director
Dr. Brent “Doc” Wakins is a pianist, arranger, and band-leader in San Antonio and one of the forefront personalities of the city’s live music scene.
In late 2009, recognizing the unique opportunities present for professional Jazz bands, Dr. Watkins founded South Texas Jazz with the intent that it become the gold-standard for Jazz music in San Antonio and the surrounding region. Since that time South Texas Jazz has grown into one of the most trusted names in San Antonio music with six unique bands operating under the flagship of the STJ label. Currently Artistic Director, band-leader, and primary pianist and arranger for STJ, he appears at more than 200 of the group’s performances each year.
In 2006, Dr. Watkins relocated from Austin to San Antonio and quickly established himself as a respected performer in the city’s classical and Jazz circles. He has performed with such organizations as the San Antonio Symphony, the Olmos Ensemble, Musical Offerings of San Antonio, and KRTU 91.7; and has also had the privilege to serve on the piano faculty of The University of Texas at San Antonio. In 2010, Dr. Watkins received a unique and prestigious commission from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas to compose new works in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the John Wayne film, “The Alamo.” Dr. Watkins premiered the works at the commemorative gala for the Anniversary and his compositions are now a permanent part of the Dimitri Tiomkin collection at the University of Southern California.
Dr. Watkins holds a Bachelor’s degree from Southern Oregon University and a Master’s and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin. His principal teachers have included Alexander Tutunov, Sophia Gilmson, Jose Ramon-Mendez, and Gregory Allen. Beginning his musical studies at the age of seven, he has taken top prizes in national and international piano competitions, including the Pacific Piano Competition, the Russian-American Music Association Competition, the Missoula Symphony Competition, and the University of Texas Concerto Competition. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2001 and has given solo performances throughout the U.S., Canada, Russia, and the Netherlands, including orchestral appearances with the ABC Orchestra, Missoula Symphony Orchestra, the Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Texas Orchestra.
With his current inroads into the Jazz scene of San Antonio, Dr. Watkins continuously seeks to positively influence the city’s culture through music. Zealous for the unique culture and experience that is South Texas, he has turned his passion into practical results through his direction of STJ. It is his deep desire that South Texas and the city of San Antonio becomes one of the finest Jazz settings in the United States. With his insights into the distinctive spirit of South Texas and his vigorous musical work through STJ in San Antonio, Doc Watkins’ vision for the future comes closer each year to fruition.