Respected West Texas high school band director Ralph “Mr. Z” Zamarippa was honored last weekend during a dedication ceremony of the new Van Horn High School band hall.
A native of San Angelo, Zamarippa began his teaching career in 1964 after receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Sul Ross.
He served as band director in Van Horn for 15 years building the marching band program into legitimacy in Texas winning 11 Sweepstakes and garnering numerous Division I ratings.
Zamarippa’s 1971 Class A State Honor band performed at the Texas Music Educators Association Convention and was voted the top band at the Buccaneer Music Festival.
Other Outstanding Band accolades under Zamarippa’s helm included the Six Flags Music Festival, the Phoenix Music Festival and the Greater Southwest Music Festival. His Van Horn band represented West Texas in the inauguration of Governor Dolph Briscoe. The band also provided music for the opening of Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
In his 15 years at Van Horn, Zamarippa mentored numerous All-State and All-Region band members.
He then served as assistant band director for other schools in West Texas and the Panhandle.
Zamarippa enlisted in the U.S. Army after high school and auditioned for the 6th Army Band at Ft. Ard, California. After passing the audition he was assigned to 62nd Army Band at Ft. Nix, New
Jersey where he was a member of a group of world-renowned musicians. He also served a paratrooper/baritone player with 82nd Airborne Division Band at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
During his tour with the 82nd, Zamarippa performed for the Queen of England in Williamsburg, Virginia and at the 82nd Airborne Convention in New York City.
Zamarippa serves as a judge for University Interscholastic League (U.I.L.) statewide competitions.
In 2007, he was inducted into the Alpha Chapter of the Phi Beta Mu International School Bandmaster Fraternity Hall of Fame.
Zamarippa is a member of the Texas Bandmasters Association, Kappa Kappa Psi, Texas Music Educators Association, Association of Texas Small School Bands, Texas Music Adjudicators Association and Phi Beta Mu.
At 82 years of age, Zamarippa is still going strong as an assistant director at Wall High School where he helped guide the band program to more than 10 Sweepstakes.