Thursday, March 21, 2019
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20181107 Wind Ensamble1America loves the movies. From the days of Clark Gable and “Gone with the Wind,” through the Harry Potter series to today's superhero flicks, there has been a long relationship with the big screen and its audience.

The McAllen Wind Ensemble will take people on a journey through popular movie scores and more on Nov. 13 at the McAllen Performing Arts Center (PAC) with its first performance of the season, aptly named “America Loves the Movies.”

The 70-plus musicians, led by director Roger Olivarez, will keep the audience on a roller-coaster ride through twisting compositions that highlight different sections of the orchestra in romantic and beautiful renditions and back to musically moving pieces for a night of great music.

“One of the pieces is called ‘Who's That Masked Man,’” Olivarez said. “It has all the different superheroes who wore masks – like Zorro and Superman and there's even a piece from “The Incredibles 2.”

There's also a nine-minute arrangement that will have Harry Potter fans reminiscing about the school-aged boy and his friends and the all the danger and adventures they faced over the years. That piece is very challenging.

20181107 Wind Ensemble Olivarez“A lot of the arrangement is sectionalized,” Olivarez said. “It starts with the keyboards, then it goes to the woodwinds and on to the French horns. All sections will be featured, and toward the end it goes into 'Harry's Wondrous World' and the full band is playing there.”
First chair flutist Beth Van Epps agrees with her director.

“The showcase is the Harry Potter themes – it goes a wicked, wicked pace,” said Van Epps, who is in her 13th year as band director at Sharyland High School and was band director at McAllen Rowe prior to that. “There’s a lot of movement and there are some real hard licks; the woodwinds are all busting fingers. There are so many slides; it just keeps moving.”

This is the second full season that the ensemble will perform at the McAllen PAC. Olivarez said that they enjoyed their time and are very appreciative of the opportunity they had to play previously at the Trinity Worship Center. The group had been called the McAllen Town Band until recently, changing the name to better reflect the ensemble’s composition.

“This building (McAllen PAC) was made for performances like what we do,” Olivarez said. “We can move panels around to make the acoustics what we need, there is ample dressing room space and space to practice. It’s really an amazing place.”

Van Epps is from Dover, Ohio and moved to the Valley when she was hired for a band director position. She originally wanted to play the trumpet but “I was told my face wasn't made for the trumpet.” Different faces have different characteristics for certain instruments, Van Epps said. “To me, the flute was too nice. I'm more of the aggressive music, like a lot more of the modern composers, like Bozza. He's one of the 20th century composers – a little more classic and interesting. But I also like a good Mozart too – you have to have balance.”

20181107 Wind Ensemble 2“America Loves the Movies” will reflect the spectrum when it comes to music and musical complexity, from the syncopated rhythms and ups and downs from The Incredibles 2, to even some jazzier, laid back pieces. Van Epps said the show “will keep you on your toes.”

Olivarez was the Rio Grande City band director for 30 years and has been the director of fine arts for the school district for the past eight years. He said the Nov. 13 show has something for everyone. It will kick off with “An American Overture.”

“We wanted to start with something challenging and this is a very challenging piece of literature,” he said. “People tend to appreciate music from the bygone days to today.”

There will also by an arrangement that includes the arrangement from the whistling scene from the movie “Bridge Over the River Kwai,” another that includes a rendition from “Empire of the Sun,” and a medley of arrangements called “Disney at the Oscars.”

“This has been a lot of fun,” Olivarez said. “There’s absolutely something for everyone and I think most people will recognize a lot of it. But, even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan, the music is just wonderful.”

With the move to the Performing Arts Center, tickets can be purchased in different ways. Go to and mail in the form that is there to have tickets placed on hold at the McAllen Performing Arts box office; purchase tickets from the McAllen Convention Center box office; purchase tickets at, or purchase tickets at the door. For questions regarding tickets, email

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