Written by Jaclyn Ritter
In the words of Plato, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” That, is exactly what the Lone Star Symphonic Band (LSSB) has been bringing to the West Houston area for over 20 years.
The Band’s Beginning Years
Originally formed in 1993 under the direction of Tom Stuchbery, the band (then known as West Houston Concert Band) struggled to bring in the numbers of both members and patrons. The band had also found it hard to find a place to call home, and had to rehearse at various churches and schools in the West Houston area.
In 2005, the West Houston Concert Band changed its name to the Lone Star Symphonic Band in the hope of reaching a broader audience. The newly titled group then made a deal with Houston Community College – Spring Branch Campus. The LSSB was allowed to rehearse and perform at the college auditorium, so long as their schools registered music students were able to sit in and play with the band for course credit. This was a wonderful collaboration, and worked well for many years.
“It is so rewarding to be able to work with people who are following a passion, their talent, and their interests,” said LSSB director Bob Bryant. The former Katy H.S. band director, and current Fine Arts Director over all of Katy I.S.D., has been impressed with the dedication of his members since he took the job in 2007. “Our members are volunteers – they only receive as a reward, the enjoyment of making music and providing music experiences for their audiences. Each member has chosen to make the sacrifice of time to participate in the LSSB, therefore I must embrace their trust in this gift of time to provide a positive, engaging, enriching, and meaningful experience that will be both gratifying and challenging.”
A Time of Growth
Bob took the band to new heights. Under Bryant’s baton the band has grown to well over 70 members, including one of his longtime colleagues and friend, James Morris, who serves as the band’s witty and memorable announcer. The band not only grew in numbers, but also in following. Every year the average number of concert attendance grows. Bryant feels this is a direct result of each band member’s commitment to improving his or her own musicianship. Because of their rise in popularity, the band outgrew the venue and were forced to relocate in 2011.
They were able to find open arms, and a comfortable home in Katy at CrossPoint Community Church. The Lone Star Symphonic Band now holds practices and concerts in the church’s sanctuary. Because of the outpouring of support from the church, the band is finally able to reach its full growth and potential.
Accolades & Accomplishments
The bands dramatic diversity in music ranges from classic rock, ‘40s Swing, Paso Doble, and heroic marches in any one concert. The age range is also widespread. “The Lone Star Symphonic Band truly exemplifies the definition of a ‘community band’. Our members range in ages that are over 70 years apart from the youngest to the eldest (with our most senior member being 91 years young)!” says director Bob Bryant. “You will find a large variety of occupations, musical education experiences, ethnicities, previous music education experiences, and interests among the members of the LSSB.” These differences helped the musicians become stronger as a band, landing them the coveted Sudler Silver Scroll award by the John Phillip Sousa Foundation. This prestigious award is given annually to one outstanding community band within the United States each year. Mr. Richard Crain, president of the Midwest Clinic, shocked and delighted the musicians by flying out and personally presenting the award to the band during one of their concerts in December of 2012.
Some of the group’s most notable performances have been held at the Stafford Centre, Sienna Plantation amphitheater, the Kemah Boardwalk and Reliant Stadium. In addition, they have put out two CDs. One is comprised of the 2011 and 2012 concert series highlights. The other CD will have listeners singing along to their favorite holiday hits.
As the Lone Star Symphonic Band continues to grow, they hope their following and appeal grow too. “We have been in the West Houston area for over 20 years already. We are not a group that is just starting out,” said the Lone Star Symphonic Band President, Beverly Buis. She hopes to see the band become more established in the Katy/Fulshear area in the years to come. Buis would love for the LSS B to one day become the “go-to” musical group for an afternoon of music and fun. “We have been able to iron out most of our performance kinks throughout the years, and as a result have a concert experience that most other groups in the Houston Metropolitan area cannot or do not provide,” said Buis.