by Sam Cantor, Event Coordinator, Music for All
Event Manager of the 2017 Bands of America West Texas Regional Championship, presented by Yamaha
It was a brisk, windy morning in Midland under the “Friday night lights” that are West Texas football stadiums. These lights, though, were illuminating the turf in preparation for a different kind of competition. The staff and volunteers scuttled about the field making sure every last detail was perfect for what would be the first Bands of America Regional Championship to come to West Texas in 10 years.
By the time the first band took the field, the sun had risen, the temperature was climbing, and the wind was picking up. There was a palpable excitement in the air for what was to come that day in Midland.
This day, almost a year in the making, started out with a simple phone conversation I had with Jason Brents, the director of Midland Lee High School’s Mighty Rebel Band. “I was so excited that I thought it was a practical joke!” said Mr. Brents of the original conversation. Mr. Brents wasted no time in contacting is colleagues throughout Midland, Odessa, El Paso, and Lubbock. With each new band director committing to participate, the event got closer and closer to reality.
When Bands of America finally officially announced the Midland show in mid-December 2016 , we had 12 bands from the West Texas area committed. Word got around quickly to bands from around Texas heard about this new Bands of America show in Grande Communications Stadium, and they were quick to sign up. Bands from Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, New Mexico, and even Nebraska joined the fun!
In all, we saw 23 amazing bands take the field on Saturday, October 14, many of whom had never competed with Bands of America before, or at least not for several years.
The gratitude expressed by the participating directors and spectators to Music for All staff (for simply being in West Texas) was overwhelming and much appreciated. According to Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, who was greeting bands at the band entrance on Saturday, “Director after director entered the field with the words like ‘How do we ensure this show is here every year’ and ‘This is the best thing that has ever happened to our bands.’”
As much as this was a profound experience for the bands of West Texas and the surrounding region, seeing the reactions of the kids, was a positively life-changing experience for me as well. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all of the people I encountered through out my three days in Midland.
I cannot wait to get back to West Texas next year, and for many years to come!