The Woodlands Concert Band is a community organization that allows musicians, from professional to beginner, an opportunity to play and perform with a quality group. It is the only community band in Montgomery County, and members come from all over South Montgomery and North Harris counties with a few even traveling from as far away as Huntsville.
While the band is fortunate to have several members who are trained musicians and local band directors themselves, many within the band are simply amateurs who enjoy continuing to play their instruments. They spend their days in such varied professions as lawyers, accountants, scientists, computer specialists, teachers, and homemakers. The band has regularly welcomed members who are still learning to play, those who haven’t played for many years, as well as those who have been playing consistently their whole life. This diversity among the band members creates a feeling of what a community group should be; friends and neighbors coming together to create beautiful music.
In addition, the band likes to remain connected to the community by giving back. Our December concert series is regularly titled A Christmas Concert for Charities with monetary donations going to Montgomery County Interfaith Hospitality Network, and collections of toys and food going to Toys for Tots and the Montgomery County Food Bank. We have also been able to provide two scholarships to local high school students who will be continuing to play their instruments in college.
As the band has grown over the years, there have been many opportunities for us to perform around the Houston area; at the Association of Community Bands convention in April 2009 which the WCB hosted, along with Lone Star Symphonic Band and the Houston Concert Band. Other performances include the Houston Area Community Music Association festivals at the Stafford Centre in Stafford, TX and at the Centrum in Spring, TX. The band was also able to join the East Texas Baptist University band for a concert at the Centrum. The WCB even made a road trip to Austin for the Texas Community Band Festival in April 2006.
Regular concert locations are currently at Christ Church Methodist and Faith United Methodist Church, both in The Woodlands area. Other performances have been held at Market Street in The Woodlands in the past few years for the Fourth of July parade and the lighting of the Christmas tree. Early in the band’s existence the group played at Windsor Hills, Portofino shopping center, Montgomery College, and Grace Lutheran Church in Conroe.
The current band has more than tripled its original size. It all began in January of 2000 after Darryl Bayer placed flyers on the music stands of the pit musicians for The John Cooper School’s production of The Music Man. Many parents filled in the instrumentation for the pit orchestra and Darryl, along with Guinn Unger, hoped there would be enough interest to start the first community band in Montgomery County. The small group of about 15 musicians practiced in the band room at The John Cooper School where Darryl was director. Guinn left the band shortly after it formed to pursue other opportunities, and Darryl worked to increase membership of the young band.
As a professional trumpet player, Darryl has performed with many jazz and symphony groups, as well as the Boston Opera. He is principal trumpet player for The Woodlands Symphony Orchestra and in the Texas Brass Ensemble. He has also worked as a freelance classical, jazz and pop performer for many notable groups. Under his direction, the small start-up band grew to about 50 members.
In the fall of 2001, the band moved to Montgomery County Community College where Darryl was an adjunct faculty member and conductor of the concert and jazz bands. While members of The Woodlands Concert Band were required to enroll in the class as continuing education, it allowed the band to combine with the college concert band and increase the size of the group. During the time at Montgomery College, the band established a summer home at Christ Church Methodist, allowing the band rehearsal time and space for a Fourth of July concert.
The band moved to Christ Church permanently in the fall of 2003 due to scheduling conflicts with Montgomery College. Initially, practices were held in the church’s gym and performances in the sanctuary. When the new main sanctuary was completed in 2004, the band moved their rehearsals to the chapel (previously the sanctuary). The band has been fortunate in building a good relationship with the church and continues to rehearse there weekly and offer performances at least five times a year.
In the spring of 2004, Darryl Bayer stepped down as conductor and Richard Byrd, who had been the band’s assistant conductor, took over leadership. A trombone player, Richard has worked as a low brass clinician, conductor and composer. He regularly pushed the band to improve by selecting a few challenging pieces for each concert to be mixed in with the standard fare that the audience would recognize. In the fall of 2008, he left the WCB to pursue other opportunities.
Two members, Jesse Warmanen and Allison Brock, band directors themselves who had served as assistant conductors for the band, stepped up to conduct the holiday concert in 2008. The band began its search for a new conductor at that time, contacting directors for around the North Houston area and Montgomery County.
Paul Worosello accepted the offer to conduct and joined the band in January of 2009. As Director of Bands at Klein Forest High School for over 30 years, Paul has brought a wealth of experience with him. He is the recipient of many awards, including twice winning the National Band Association Citation of Excellence. During his tenure at Klein Forest, his bands have played at the National Concert Festival and Carnegie Hall. When he joined The Woodlands Concert Band, he also recruited many new members as he spread word of the group to other band directors in the Klein school district. While originally brought in as an interim conductor, Paul agreed to accept the permanent position of music director in April of 2009.
With current membership at around 75, the band is excited to be in our 11th season of providing quality music to the community and hopes to continue for many years to come!
Chris Ragan, a percussionist with the Woodlands Concert Band, has archived the history of the Woodlands Concert Band.