New Horizons Band of Austin, TX
An Outreach Program of The University of Texas Butler School of Music
The New Horizons Band in Austin was initiated in the Spring of 1998 by University of Texas Professor Glenn Richter with four “students.” Sponsored by the University of Texas Butler School of Music, this Pilot Project was based on a program begun at the Eastman School of Music which was designed for people 50 years of age or older desiring to play musical instruments. By October of 1998, twenty of us, alerted by an article about the beginning band, gathered at Glenn Richter’s church, Shepherd of the Hills in Westlake Hills, and began our “new” musical experience. Many of our members had not taken their instruments out of their cases for over 30 years!! By 2010, we have grown to about 60 members and have our weekly rehearsals directed by Glenn Richter at the Westlake United Methodist Church in Westlake Hills.
Our members come from all walks of life: former and present professors, practicing physicians, psychiatrists, retired educators, librarians, medical technicians, retired UT accounting professor, retired resident scientist at UT McDonald Observatory, sculptor, realtor, architect, Legal Administrator, Systems Analyst, Engineer, Social Worker, Counselor, Researcher and Writer, Teachers, Physical Therapist, CPA, Pastor, Computer analysts, Nurse, retired military, Geophysicists, retired business owners, and homemakers.
Our band has been a conducting lab for a number of University of Texas School of Music students over the years. Often we are the first full “band” the young students have ever led.
We generally perform two concerts every year at Bates Recital Hall on the UT campus, one in the Spring and one in December. Our December concert features family members joining us on stage for “Sleigh Bells” with many grandchildren ringing bells and others playing instruments as part of our band.
In addition, activities over the past eleven years by the full band have included concerts for:
-UT Alumni at Bass Concert Hall
-Austin City Council
-Village of the Hills Park
-Church of the Hills
-Nemitz Museum in Fredericksburg
-UT Faculty at the Forty Acres Club
-Mexican American WWII Veterans at Plaza Saltillo
-Retirees from the City of Austin
-Westlake United Methodist Church
-Dedication ceremony for Elgin Elementary School
-Residents of Sun City, Georgetown
-As well as for a number of Austin Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Centers including The Summitt, Hearthstone, Westminister Manor, Cornerstone.
A subset of our members have also performed for:
-LAMP program at the University of Texas
-Pre football game activities at Memorial Stadium and the Texas Exes Facility.
-Recording “oldies” music for UT Opera Department for use in their Opera Scenes.
-Services at the WUMC.
-Christmas Festivities at 37 ˝ Street.
Various members have also participated in
-the St. Edwards University Community Orchestra
-the Longhorn Summer Band
-New Horizon Band Camps held throughout the country.
-supplementing the St. Michael’s High School band at a
-demonstrating their instruments for classes at Westminister Presbyterian Church Day School.
-performing for The University of Texas Women
-performing for the Austin Women’s Symphony League.
-performing Christmas Carols for residents of the Ronald McDonald House
Begun by one of our members a number of years ago, a Polka Band has performed for the Austin City Council as well as playing for the Third Thursday activities on Guadalupe Street. Another subset of our band traveled to Houston to perform for and help organize the Energy City New Horizons Band in Houston at the Memorial Drive Methodist Church where we met a number of UT alumni. Some of our members are a part of the New Horizons International Music Association, Inc., and one of our members, Dr. Frank Ray, is on the Board of Directors. Some members, after a few years, move on to become players in other Austin musical organizations. Many stay, realizing what a grand opportunity this was for them, wanting to help newcomers. We all deeply appreciate the leadership and expertise of Professor Richter and thank the UT School of music for providing us this enriching opportunity: this “balm for our souls”; the ability to find and use again our “musical treasure” we thought was long lost.