By Herb Moering
After the December 11 holiday event that drew a full house of Winter Texans, the Rio Grande Valley Concert Band has put away its sounds of Christmas and is preparing for the 2023 winter schedule. Since February 15, 1998, the RGV Concert Band has been playing the old time “concert in the park” music from January through March at the 55+ Parks throughout the Valley.
Rehearsals will concentrate on marches, show tunes, patriotic music and more, according to Gene Goede, band director since 2008. The Winter Texan of 31 years has been with the band for 24 years. He also has been a member of the McAllen Symphonic Band for 17 years. The holder of a Music Education and Master of Science degrees with 34 years teaching music in Minnesota Public Schools until retiring in 1992, Goede said there are seven concerts planned.
The 25th Year of music concerts by the RGV Concert Ban begins Sunday, January 15 with a 3 p.m. concert at Orange Grove RV Park in Edinburg.
Following this concert, six more concerts will be given this year with the season ending March 11th. Concerts are open to the public for a donation of $5. All concerts begin at 3 p.m. These are slated for Tip-O-Texas RV Resort in Pharr January 22, Alamo Palms Park in Alamo February 5, Enchanted Valley Ranch in Mission February 12, Snow to Sun RV and MH Park in Weslaco February 19, Valley View Estates in Mission March 5, and Casa Del Sol MH and RV Resort in Donna March 11.
During the past 25 years the band has grown to as many as 65 members and currently has approximately 45 members. The membership includes Winter Texans from throughout the States and Canada, plus local residents. Professions represented include band directors, registered nurses, engineers, teachers, ministers, financial officers, accounting, court recorder, the insurance industry, farmers, bakers, computer sciences, home design, jewelry, the paper industry, commercial carpet cleaners, railroad workers, and food services. This mix of careers is enhanced by the mix of ages ranging from the forties to ninety-three. The oldest active member is 93-year-old Dick Corle, retired Band Director from Baudette, MN. He and band Director Gene Goede joined the band in December 1998.
The band Librarian, Betty Epperson joined with husband Frank in 2002. By 2008 these members were joined by four others that still play with the band. They are Rosemary Hinkley (French Horn), Everett Sondreal (Clarinet), Jerry Vander Ploeg (Trombone) and Linda Ingram (Tenor Saxophone). From 2009-2019 another 30 current members joined. Even after a one-year rest during the pandemic, these musicians returned and were joined by ten others to continue their love of playing their instruments and being with fellow musicians.
The band, which currently has 50 plus members, is also available to help parks and organizations with fund-raising through the concerts. Contact Marilyn Bahney, band representative, at (812) 239-3101. The director, who has toured the world with his music, playing in Europe that included Italy, Ireland and Scotland, plus China, noted the band could still use more musicians in the clarinet, tuba, flute and percussion sections. Anyone interested in joining the band should contact Goede at (956) 682-9225 for details. Rehearsals are held Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m. at Our Savior Lutheran Church campus in McAllen.