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MWE Director webThe McAllen Wind Ensemble is excited to announce its 50th anniversary season. The annual music celebration of the holidays is Friday, December 15, 7:30 p.m. at the McAllen Performing Arts Center. Christmas with a Twist presents familiar holiday songs packaged in new ways to create a fresh experience for audience members. The music both travels around the world, weaves in some of our favorite seasonal movies, and constantly crosses compositional styles. The band will also feature the talented Colibri Children’s Choir for a special arrangement of Christmas movies.

This year the Town Band Association is commemorating its golden anniversary of providing family-friendly musical entertainment to McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley. Each year, the holiday concert is a highlight for both musicians and audiences alike.

The organization’s Musical Director, Roger Olivarez, shares “Music is a gift best enjoyed when it is shared. It has been an honor to make music these past years and to get to share it with our wonderful audience, especially during this very special time of the year.”

Other members of the ensemble had some very personal things to share about what the Christmas concert and this time of year means to them. While it touches everyone in different ways, the music and the season has special places in many of the members’ hearts.

MWE Samantha Marquez flute webRoy Contreras, board president, said Christmas is a “special time of the season of the love, hope, and peace we find in Jesus. The gifts we give to one another are a symbol of the gift God gave to us in Jesus.” He continued by saying, “Our Christmas concert is our way of celebrating Him.”

Olivarez had some fond memories to share about preparing for the concerts every year and how the Christmas concert is a personal favorite to work on. He said the level of difficulty of arrangements has increased through the years and has made for a better experience for the performers and the audience. This year, they have had to work harder with less rehearsals and hope that the finished product will be both memorable and entertaining.

His memories include standing ovations, the satisfaction in the band members’ faces as they finished a hard selection, and the audience reactions at the end of their concerts. His most precious memory is of wife.

“My most precious memory is looking out to Section AA Seat 14 and watching my wife’s response at the end of each tune. She loved Christmas and everything that it stands for; and our Christmas Concert was always her favorite. (At our first concert of the season, I found myself getting off the podium and looking in that direction after each selection out of habit.)”

Clarinet player Isidro Garcia-Sepulveda said that the Christmas concert has always been one of her favorites to perform with the ensemble “because there is such joy pulsating from everyone’s playing.” It also reminds her of when she was younger, performing concerts as a beginner and in middle school and having her family there to watch and listen to her and the band. “It brings some sort of nostalgia when performing, and that is an emotion that makes me feel warm inside.”

“When familiar pieces are interwoven together,” said Ed Keebaugh, a trumpet player, “It can create new emotions and musical experiences.” He added that this Christmas concert has something for everyone.

Flute player Samantha Marquez shared some Christmas memories that have made her love for music evolve. She said music has always played a big part in her childhood, especially during Christmas, because of a very supportive grandfather. He loved music so much, she said, that he gifted her and her sisters an instrument set when they were younger. He went on throughout the years surprising her with a keyboard, and even later a saxophone when she decided she wanted to focus on Jazz.

“I wouldn’t be a music major if it weren’t for his support and love for the arts,” she said. “December 2022, when the McAllen Wind Ensemble performed Christmas from the 50’s, I cried on stage as we performed because not only was it Christmas music from his childhood, but he also had passed away in February of that year.”

She, and the others, say they look forward to performing this concert. They have enjoyed practicing the pieces and are ready to share them with their audience.

MWE Full band balcony webContreras notes “During this Christmas season, we find the value of friendship within our band family. We hope that our audience enjoys our presentation, and we thank them for supporting the arts in the Rio Grande Valley and wish them a Merry Christmas!”

Currently, the organization has about 75 musicians from across the region ranging in age and professional background. Out of a love of music and a desire to improve the cultural offerings available in the community, they volunteer their time to rehearse once a week and perform regular concerts.

Join the McAllen Winde Ensemble on December 15 for a memorable holiday experience with a heart-warming and exciting mix of familiar favorites presented in a unique, new way as they perform Christmas with a Twist.

This concert features the special promotion of buy one get one free for military veterans who present military ID at the box office. Tickets start at $10, including fees, and can be purchased in-person at the McAllen Performing Arts Center Box Office, by calling 1-800-745-3000, or at www.ticketmaster.com (additional fees apply). Reserved seating is available. Season tickets are available as well.

As a nonprofit organization sustained by the community’s support, the organization also seeks to partner with local businesses who wish to advertise or sponsor programs. For more information, please contact info@mcallenwindensemble.org. The presenting sponsor for the December 15 concert is Family Medical Center of Mission.
The anniversary concert season continues on Tuesday, February 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday April 7 at 3 p.m.