This Saturday evening, Waxahachie will not only welcome the nationally renowned Dallas Wind Symphony to the Chautauqua stage, it will also enter the musical world of John Philip Sousa in a concert like the ones that Sousa’s band played all over the country.
Conductor Jeff Gersham will portray Sousa in his dress and in his conducting style. The concert program will be typical of one that Sousa's band would have presented, including Sousa’s practice of educating his audience by interspersing light classical music with the more popular marches.
The concert will kick off at 7 p.m. with the “Star-Spangled Banner” and include music and marches from Sousa, Ives, Gershwin and others. Of course, Sousa’s famous “Stars and Stripes Forever” march will be highlighted. Although the symphony performs its Sousa concerts each 4th of July at the Meyerson Symphony Center, it is unusual for it to perform its music in a historic open-air location like the Chautauqua Auditorium, the type of venue in which Sousa’s band actually played.
Whether or not Sousa’s band ever came to the Chautauqua Auditorium is a matter of great speculation in Waxahachie.
It is known that he was scheduled to play here in 1925. On Sept. 14, 1925, a headline in the Waxahachie Daily Light read: “Sousa’s band to play here Dec. 27,” but two months later, Nov. 19, 1925, its headline read: “Sousa’s band engagement cancelled here.” The article said the reason the chamber of commerce cancelled Sousa’s engagement was because it “did not wish to bring to the ‘City of Homes, Schools and Churches’ a musical organization of such nature on the Sabbath, because of the fact that admission prices would have been necessary.” The article also said the Sunday date was the only date the band had open.
This Saturday, the wind music of Sousa will cap off a day all about wind, as the eighth annual Chautauqua Assembly presents its theme of “Catch the Wind!”
Channel 8 meteorologist Steve McCauley will speak on forecasting the wind and answer questions from the audience. Other wind-related presentations include “Poetry of Texas Wind,” “Wind Energy” and a Birds of Prey flight demonstration.
Sousa fans can dig deeper into the world of Sousa and the wind band tradition at 2 p.m., when Carol Reynolds takes the Chautauqua stage to bring to life the stories and insights into that era.
“Professor Carol,” as she is known, gives regular talks for the Dallas Wind Symphony and is known for her dynamic and enthusiastic presentations. For 20 years she was professor of music history at Southern Methodist University.
There will also be an old-fashioned pie social to benefit the Waxahachie CARE food bank, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Pies will be donated by local bakeries and restaurants and Starbucks will donate coffee. The pie social will receive special recognition in the Dallas Wind Symphony concert with their performance of the “Pie in the Face Polka.”
Pie donors include:
Odelia’s Cakes Harrison House bed and breakfast Occasions Unlimited 1879 Chisholm Trail Christ the King Lutheran Church Bob Luby’s Seafood Grill Applebee’s Johnny Carino’s Courthouse Caf/ Fire Mountain Chick-fil-A The Dove’s Nest College Street Pub BBQ Pit Larry’s Roasted Burgers H&H Grocery Taste of Texas
The Dallas Wind Symphony travels to Waxahachie straight from its own season’s opening concert last week at its home, the Meyerson Concert Center in Dallas.
The symphony is the leading professional civilian wind band in the United States today and performs an eclectic blend of musical styles ranging from Bach to Bernstein and Sousa to Strauss.
The symphony provides an annual concert subscription series at the Meyerson, with its next concert Oct. 23. It has 12 highly-acclaimed CDs on the Reference Recording label under conductors Howard Dunn, Frederick Fennell and Jerry Junkin.