Denton's New Horizons Band celebrates 20 years with anniversary concert March 26

New Horizons Band (Photo by Ahna Hubnnik)Since 1998, Denton's New Horizons Band has helped area seniors get in tune with their talents. Made up of active adults and retirees and conducted by UNT instrumental education doctoral students, the band will celebrate with a free anniversary concert at 7 p.m. March 26 at the Murchison Performing Arts Center on campus.

With one group strictly for beginners and another for more advanced musicians, the band is part of the New Horizons International Music Association created by Roy Ernst, a professor at Eastman School of Music. Debbie Rohwer, now UNT associate to the president, chief of staff and professor of music education, studied at Eastman and brought the program to Denton.

"I love this program and what it represents -- anyone at any age can make music with others and have a great time doing it," she says. "These individuals embody what it means to live life to the fullest, even at 92 years old, as one of our members is, and going strong."

Buddy Givens, who played music in college, the Air Force and a Shrine band, says when he moved to the area, he was looking for new musical opportunities.

"I saw an article in the newspaper regarding the band right after I had retired and had the time to devote to it," says Givens, who's played bassoon in the band for seven years. "Now that my wife has retired, she has joined the band as a beginner percussionist, so we are able to enjoy it together."

Olivia Tucker ('17 M.M.Ed.) and Samuel Escalante ('11), the two doctoral students working with the band, will be conducting at the concert.

"I love being a part of New Horizons because it is a meaningful way to extend music education outside formal schooling as a participatory, community endeavor," Tucker says. "I think the group is a special slice of the arts, music and community spirit of Denton."

Escalante says he loves working with the ensembles and helping the members realize their potential through music.

"What I enjoy most is everyone's passion for being part of a musical experience purely for enjoyment, personal growth and socialization," he says. "I believe it is critical that we join and support community ensembles of all kinds."

The band meets on Monday afternoons during the school year at the Denton Senior Center, 509 N. Bell Ave. The beginners start at 2:45 p.m., and intermediate and advanced players meet at 3:45 p.m. The band performs throughout the year, including a spring appearance at the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival and a fall benefit concert to raise funds for a local charity. 

Clarinetist Eugenia King ('52) says that everyone is extremely welcoming regardless of your skill level.

"I came in 10 years ago with only five months of clarinet training in high school," King says. "I just want you to know that if I can do it, anyone can."

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