Watch out: The big brass is in town, and live at the lake

Richard Carter, Special to the Times Record News Published 11:27 a.m. CT June 2, 2017

Members of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra are shedding their formal black attire for a brassy lakeside diversion.

Wichita Falls Symphony Brass will perform about 90 minutes of brass quintet music as part of the Live at the Lake series of concerts 6:30 p.m. June 8 at the Priddy Pavilion on the grounds of the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University.

The ensemble will dole out big band, pop and patriotic music, said longtime symphony trumpet player Wayne Bennett.

After its first set, a group of strings players from the Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra, led by Gina Menden, will play from 20 to 30 minutes so the brass group can take a breath without a break in music.

“We will play popular music, including Disney,” Menden said.

This is the symphony’s third Live at the Lake foray.

An orchestra string quartet played in May 2015 for the opening of the Priddy Pavilion. The following year, a string quintet helmed movie themes and patriotic music with members of Backdoor Theatre’s Summer Youth Musical at a special Saturday Live at the Lake.

“This year, we’re playing with the brass. It’s louder than strings,” Bennett said with a laugh.

It will again be popular music, such as “In the Mood,” the Beatles’ “When I’m 64,” and “America the Beautiful” and a salute to the Armed Forces.

“We may throw in some marches.”

Bennett is no stranger to marches, having been an Army Reserve commander and bandmaster of the 95th Division Army band for 38 years, while also in charge of orchestra at Hirschi High School and then band and orchestra at Rider High for 15 years.


His group will play brass quintet music but is adding an extra trumpet and a drummer. Bennett said the music simply sounds better with a trap drummer, and the third trumpet is for relief.

The trumpet players include Joshua Ritchie, assistant band director at Wichita Falls High School; Andrew Checki, brass coach for the youth symphony and a teacher at Barwise Middle School; and Bennett.

Terah Shawver, the band director for City View High School, will play French horn, and symphony member Jason Lewis will play trombone. Nick Beltchev, a Wichitan and former symphony guest artist, will be on tuba. Finally, symphony member Denny Jones will tackle the drums.

Symphony members say they enjoy performing outside of their normal symphony realm.

“We don’t think that we’re out in the public enough. We can’t afford to have the whole symphony come out and play. It’s just real expensive. We’re hoping to develop more small groups that can go out and play different places in the future. Live at the Lake is a good one. Maybe we could show up at a coffee shop or at a farmers market. We want people to think of the symphony more often.”

Join now for as low as
99¢/1st month