Waxahachie Area Concert Band holds debut concert

It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention.

That was certainly the case for Palmer resident Danny Potter as he grew tired of driving to Mesquite to rehearse and perform for that city’s symphony.

“I would much rather perform closer to home, but there’s nothing like that here, especially in Waxahachie,” Potter said.

In the summer of 2015, Potter, a professional musician and retired music educator, started talking to other musicians in the area about creating a concert band in Ellis County.

“We came up with about five people who were excited about the idea and decided to have a dinner meeting at Rockett Christian Church to see if we could get the idea off the ground and form a board,” Potter recalled. “One of the people at that meeting was B.S. Waltrip.”

During the next few weeks, the group traded emails and phone calls.

After much research for available names, Waxahachie Area Concert Band was selected for the new group.

“And there was still the matter of finding a place to rehearse,” Potter recalled. “I was driving in Waxahachie and I kept seeing signs for SAGU. I’m embarrassed to say, I had never heard of Southwestern Assemblies of God University, nor did I know this amazing university was located here in Ellis County.

“So, I drive up Sycamore and see this beautiful campus. I park my car and start walking across the campus. I asked one of the students about the university’s music facility, and they directed me to the Hagee Communications Center,” Potter said.

When he arrived at the performing arts auditorium, he immediately took note of the plaque on the wall noting the auditorium was made possible by a donation by B.S. Waltrip.

“I knew immediately I was in the right place,” he said.

Waiting outside the door until the class inside was complete, another student told Potter he needed to speak to Dr. Tyrone Block, the university’s music director, who happened to be instructing the class inside.

“There aren’t enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe Dr. Block,” Potter said. “He is an exceptional musician, conductor and educator, absolutely. But it has been his assistance and guidance that’s made the Waxahachie Area Concert Band possible.”

Potter said Dr. Block graciously allowed the group to use the SAGU auditorium for rehearsals.

“At first, we were rehearsing on Monday evenings,” Potter said. “But we never could get more than 20-25 musicians — not enough for a full symphony. Dr. Block asked me how we were doing and I told him. He suggested we change our rehearsal night to Thursdays when his Wind Ensemble rehearsed.

“Everything changed at that point,” he said, adding the concert band joined forces with the university students and the two groups immediately gelled.

With approximately 50 musicians performing in the combined group, Potter said that number is evenly split between the Waxahachie Area Concert Band and the SAGU Wind Ensemble.

“The sound is incredible. It truly has been a marriage made in heaven,” Potter said, adding there are many top tier musicians in the band. “Pairing up with Dr. Block and the SAGU Wind Ensemble made us whole. The SAGU students are amazing musicians. We are doing some very complicated pieces and I think everyone will be impressed.”

The Waxahachie Area Concert Band’s debut concert was held last Monday at SAGU Hagee Communication Center Performing Arts Hall with both Dr. Block and Potter conducting.

The group’s first concert was entitled “A Return To The Classics” and featured selections from classical composers Grainger, Sousa, Hoist, Wagner, Elliott, Whitacre and Holsinger.

With the semester coming to an end, Potter said the band will break for summer and resume again in the fall. Once again, they plan to join forces with SAGU musicians.

“Our next concert will likely be a Christmas concert for the community,” Potter said, adding the band also plans perform more community events during the first part of 2017.

 

Contact Neal at nwhite@waxahachietx.com or 469-517-1470. Follow Neal on Facebook at Neal White – Waxahachie Newspapers Inc., or on Twitter at wni_nwhite.