WT Symphonic Band to Perform at National Conference, Tour Dallas Area


CANYON, Texas — The West Texas A&M University Symphonic Band is one of only nine university bands to be invited to perform at this year’s College Band Directors National Association convention.

The WT band will give a concert featuring two world premiere performances at 1:30 p.m. EST Feb. 17 in Hodgson Concert Hall in Athens, Georgia.

It’s the fifth time in the band’s history to be invited to perform at the national convention—three times under the baton of current director Don Lefevre, and twice under the direction of legendary WT band director Dr. Gary Garner.

“Being selected to perform at a CBDNA National Convention is the highest honor a university band can achieve,” Lefevre said. “I personally feel honored and humbled to have the opportunity to perform and showcase the talents of our wonderful WT students on a national stage. It will a great opportunity for us to hear some of the best band programs in the United States.”

The band will perform a preview of their Athens concert at 3 p.m. Feb. 12 in Mary Moody Northen Recital Hall on WT’s Canyon campus. Admission is free.

“I am so proud of these students and this amazing accomplishment,” said Dr. Jessica Mallard, dean of the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities. “Being invited to perform at CBDNA for a fifth time highlights both the historical and the continued excellence of the School of Music and the Symphonic Band.”

Additionally, the band will tour the Dallas/Fort Worth area en route to Athens: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at Richland High School in North Richland Hills; 9 a.m. Feb. 15 at Carter-Riverside High School in Fort Worth; 1:30 pm. Feb. 15 at Emerson High School in McKinney; and 7:30 p.m. at Hebron High School in Carrollton.

The Symphonic Band’s concert program will include premieres of “Strange Loops” by Dr. B.J. Brooks, WT professor of theory and composition, and “Lift Up Thine Ears” by Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty.

Brooks said “Strange Loops” was inspired by a melody that came to him in a dream and quotes from Igor Stravinsky’s “The Firebird,” Frédéric Chopin’s “Winter Wind” and Johann Sebastian Bach’s “All Are Mortal” and Fugue in G Major.

“Lift Up Thine Ears,” a three-movement symphony, is “based on how the human spirit can be uplifted by learning with new ears,” Lefevre said. Each movement is based on a different piece of literature: William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” and its famed monologue including the words “lend me your ears”; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” in which he wrote “it rings in the ear”; and Emily Dickinson’s poem “The Spirit Is the Conscious Ear,” where the power of listening is explored through the spirit and energy of music.

Lefevre had worked with Daughtery before and asked the composer to transcribe his work, originally written for orchestra, for bands.

In addition, Dr. John Shanks, WT assistant professor of music, will perform a trombone solo in “Red Sky” by Anthony Barfield. The program also will include “Sacred Spaces” by John Mackey.

Fostering an appreciation of the arts is a key component of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $115 million.