The Hill Country Community Band Travels ‘Around the World with Music’

by Candy Bowman, published in The Wimberley View 3/24/22

With the theme of “Around the World with Music,” the Hill Country Community Band will present musical selections from many parts of the globe, including the continents of Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. The first of a series of two, this concert will present a “trip around the world” with music that evokes the sights and sounds of faraway places!

The concert will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 9 at the First Baptist Church in Wimberley. The band is directed by Dr. Manuel Arambula.

Selections include “In a Persian Market,” by Albert Ketelbey, which brings to mind a time and place of camel drivers, snake charmers and a princess in the old market place. In “El Camino Real,” which was commissioned by and dedicated to the 581st Air Force Band and its Commander, the music is built on a series of chord progressions common to Spanish flamenco guitarists, with its brilliant and fiery style. From Africa, “Army of the Nile” celebrates one of the first Allied victories of World War II.

In other selections, “Overture de Argentina” presents the musical heritage of Latin America, and the beautiful “Moravian Dance” features the clarinet section as the work builds in its texture, intensity and tempo.

The HCCB meets for rehearsals in the First Baptist Church of Wimberley on Tuesday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m. If you play an instrument and would like to be part of the fun of making music again, come and listen and join in!

For more information about playing and volunteering with the Hill Country Community Band or making a monetary donation, visit the HCCB website at and follow on Facebook for current band news and future concert dates.

“Celebrating the Great Composers” Concert 2/19/22


“Contrapunctus V” by Johann Sebastian Bach, arr. Larry Daehn
“Pie in the Face Polka” by Henry Mancini, arr. Johnnie Vinson
“Italian Polka” by Sergei Rachmaninov, arr. Elena Roussanova Lucas
“Thunder and Lightning” (Polka Schnell) by Johann Strauss II, arr. Larry Daehn
“Fugue on the Cross” (Fugue No. 4) by Johann Sebastian Bach, arr. Jeffrey Hayman
“Polka and Fugue” from the opera Schwanda, the Bagpiper by Jaromir Weinberger, arr. Glenn Cliffe Bainum
“The Thunderer March” by John Philip Sousa, arr. Brion/Schissel

The Hill Country Community Band to Play Popular Polkas and Fugues

By Oda Lisa, published in The Wimberley View 2/10/22

On Saturday, February 19, at 3:00 p.m., the Wimberley Community Center will be the venue for a lively, free concert by the Hill Country Community Band. The playlist features a sound spectrum of polkas and fugues composed by John Philip Sousa, Sergei Rachmaninov, Henry Mancini, Jaromir Weinberger, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Johann Strauss. A preview perusal of the concert’s program revealed the following information about the chosen compositions:

Pie in the Face Polka,” by Henry Mancini, arranged by Johnnie Vinson, might be the most familiar of the selections. The song was made famous as part of the soundtrack from the classic movie, The Great Race, starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Natalie Wood. It’s uproarious tone is well suited for the pie fight scene. The HCCB clarinet section takes center stage in this piece.

The HCCB percussionists, Dan Stephens and Nathan Deans, and Mike Thielen on timpani, play prominently on “Thunder and Lightning”, also known as “Unter Donner und Blitz” (Polka Schnell), by Johann Strauss. This arrangement by Larry Daehn highlights Bass drum, timpani rolls, cymbal clashes, and “flashing woodwinds” to simulate thunder and give the illusion of lightning.

“The Thunderer March,” by John Philip Sousa, arranged by Brion/Schissel, was dedicated in 1889 to Columbia Commandery No. 2 of the Knights Templar of Washington, D.C., and was Mrs. Sousa’s favorite march composed by the “March King.”

Contrapunctus V,” from The Art of the Fugue, by Johann Sebastian Bach, also arranged by Larry Daehn, was One of the most famous fugues from Bach’s final magnum opus. Another musical selection by Bach to be played is “Fugue on the Cross”, arranged by Jeffrey Hayman, and is described as “a passionate and powerful rendering of Bach’s dark and brooding triple fugue.”

“Italian Polka” by Sergei Rachmaninov, arranged by Elena Roussanova Lucas, was first performed in 1906. According to the program notes, “This polka is based on a melody that Rachmaninov heard in Italy, played on an old street organ.  He declared that it was the favorite of all his compositions.”

“Polka and Fugue,” from the opera, Schwanda, the Bagpiper, by Jaromir Weinberger, was arranged for symphonic band by Glenn Cliffe Bainum. The notes further state that “Schwanda and Dorotka have been married for one week when they become involved in an adventure that leads them to the Queen with a heart of ice and a Devil who cheats at cards. In this scene of the opera, the Devil loses to Babinsky, who rescues Schwanda.”

Come and lose yourself for a time to enjoy the latest (and next greatest) musical offering from the Hill Country Community Band. To stay up to date about future concert dates and for more information about volunteering with the Hill Country Community Band or making a monetary donation, visit the HCCB website at and follow them on Facebook.

Review: Community Band’s “Earth and Beyond”

by Oda Lisa, published in The Wimberley View 12/9/21

The Hill Country Community Band performed their final concert of 2021 last month, but thankfully, it will not be their last. With two concerts under his baton with the HCCB as their new director, Dr. Manuel Arambula had previously said that he wanted to take the band to a new level, and he has done just that. The November 20 concert was one of their better efforts in recent years. The program included several complicated compositions, which showed off how the HCCB has risen to the next level of performance excellence. The concert’s theme was “Earth and Beyond” and featured several popular songs including “Symphonic Suite from Star Trek”, “Come Fly with Me”, and Moon River”. John Philip Sousa was featured, as well, given that Arambula is a self-professed fan of that prolific composer. Referring to the November program, Arambula said, “The music was indeed challenging, but the musicians are so receptive to the challenges and eager to perform high quality band music.”

“Earthdance” by Michael Sweeney (2010) stood out from the other well-played pieces due to the band’s amazing technical execution of that riveting composition. Arambula said, “‘Earthdance’ was a hard piece for me to get acquainted with. I had to study it a bit more than the other pieces as it is a music piece with difficult tempo transitions and several moving parts that demand careful attention. ‘Earthdance’ would not have been successful without the hard work and artistry of our percussion section. They provided the sound effects necessary to make it happen, such as thunder sounds and the sound of the wind. In regards to the raindrops, thankfully the composer made it easy for the conductor. The raindrop sounds were made by the musicians snapping their fingers. In the music, the composer wrote as to how long the musicians should snap their fingers. This allows for the rain to be timed precisely. So in the music, the musicians were to snap their fingers for 8 counts. ‘Earthdance’ was one of my favorite pieces in the program. It reiterates the fact that there is no place like home, our planet, Earth. The piece contained a happy dance in the end and I couldn’t help to think how much we have to take care of our home.”

Being transported through musical exploration to Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, all while enjoying an afternoon concert in Wimberley, it can be said that the HCCB gave a stellar performance. Looking forward to their next presentation on Saturday, February 19…

To stay updated on future concert dates and for more information about volunteering with the Hill Country Community Band or making a monetary donation, visit the HCCB website at and follow them on Facebook.

“Earth and Beyond” concert 11/20/21


“Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss; arr. Robert Longfield

“Earthdance” by Michael Sweeney

“Looking Upward Suite” by John Philip Sousa; ed. John R. Bourgeois

“Come Fly with Me” by James Van Heusen; arr. Paul Murtha

“Moon River” by Henry Mancini; arr. Michael Brown

“Jupiter” – from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst

“Symphonic Suite from Star Trek” by Michael Giacchino, Alexander Courage & Gene Roddenberry; arr. Jay Bocook

“The Invincible Eagle March” by John Philip Sousa

The Hill Country Community Band Explores the Universe through Music

by Oda Lisa, published in The Wimberley View 11/11/21

The Hill Country Community Band will present their free Fall concert on Saturday, November 20, at 2:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Wimberley. The concert’s theme is “Earth, Sky, and Space”. Speaking on behalf of the group of musical volunteers, Pat Ricks is the current HCCB President as well as a flautist in the band.

She said, “My duties as president of the HCCB board include presiding at board meetings, keeping the band updated on activities, or volunteer requests, either at rehearsals or by email, and contacting prospective new members,  and helping to schedule concerts and venues. Actually, the other members of the board are so helpful and proactive, I mostly just agree with their suggestions! Other members of the band do all the legwork on developing the concert posters and programs. I am very lucky or blessed that things generally run so smoothly that I don’t have to do much hands-on organization.”

Ricks continued, “Our November 20 concert includes a variety of music related to Earth, sky and space. There are two pretty challenging pieces- Holst’s ‘Jupiter’ from The Planets and ‘Looking Upward Suite’ by Sousa. The program also includes an interesting piece called ‘Earthdance’ which begins with sound effects representing a thunderstorm and rainfall! We were also lucky to find the Sousa march that is presently used as the US Space Force’s theme.”

Explaining why “Jupiter” and the Sousa suite are challenging, she said, “Both push the abilities of all sections of the band. The woodwinds are faced with very technical passages in both pieces and the brass section is tasked with wide ranges in addition to demanding technical passages. I am very proud of how the band has risen to these challenges!”

For more information about playing and volunteering with the Hill Country Community Band or making a monetary donation, visit the HCCB website at and follow on Facebook for current band news and future concert dates.

“Director’s Choice” Concert 10/9/21



“Crown Imperial: Coronation March”
by William Walton

“American Riversongs” by Pierre La Plante

“G Force: The Ultimate Roller Coaster Ride” by Dennis Eveland

“Be Thou My Vision” by David R. Gillingham

“The Hounds of Spring” by Alfred Reed

“Washington Greys March” by Claudio S. Grafulla, arr. by Loras John Schissel

The Hill Country Community Band Moves in a New Direction with a New Director

by Oda Lisa, published in The Wimberley View

On Saturday, October 9, 2:00 p.m., the Hill Country Community Band will present another great, free concert at the First Baptist Church in Wimberley. The audience will recognize many of the volunteer musicians that have played in the band for a number of years. However, this concert will introduce a new face in the director’s role, Dr. Manuel Arambula.

Arambula said, “My first instrument was piano as a child. Upon entering middle school I picked up the saxophone and string bass. In college I switched to clarinet and I have taught both saxophone and clarinet as a high school band director.”

Outlining his impressive musical experiences, he said, “I am now currently the orchestra director at Canyon High School in New Braunfels, Texas. I have taught and conducted musical groups in the Rio Grande Valley, Lubbock, San Antonio and the state of California. I have a bachelor degree in music performance from the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and a Master’s and Doctoral degree in instrumental conducting from Texas Tech University.”

Explaining how he and the Hill Country Community Band connected, Arambula said, “I was very fortunate to have been outreached by Mr. Neal Mallard during the summer. I was told of the directorship vacancy and if I was interested in auditioning for the ensemble. I immediately accepted the invitation. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to lead the HCCB.”

He continued, “I understand that the HCCB has a 30 year tradition of providing musical enjoyment to its audiences. It is my intent to continue that practice. The people of Wimberley and its surrounding areas have come to expect fun performances from the band. While maintaining that philosophy, it is also my intent to raise the standard of programming with the band. The band world now possesses so many good compositions from the last 100 years. It is my wish to program as many great pieces with the band while still balancing the standards our audiences have come to expect.”

For Arambula’s first performance with the band, the HCCB’s board allowed him to choose most of the concert’s playlist. He said, “I really wanted to program pieces that were very special to me and that I knew the band would enjoy. There was input from the board, but overwhelmingly my choices were honored. It is my intent to listen as much as possible to the requests of the board and the musicians in the selection of the repertoire. This will ensure diverse programs which everyone will enjoy.”

“I love all the pieces that we are doing,” he said, adding, “but ‘Crown Imperial’, William Walton, is special to me. ‘Hounds of Spring’, by Alfred Reed, is a very challenging piece. It has many, many notes and requires intense concentration from the band. However, I will have to say ‘Be Thou my Vision’, as arranged by Gillingham, is the most challenging. It is highly lyrical and musical and requires demanding musicianship from all involved.”

In conclusion, Arambula said, “I was introduced to ‘Crown Imperial’ by my middle school band director, Mrs. Nancy Shepard. She changed my life and made me love music through her own special love for music. I wish she could be alive to witness the performance. I dedicate this first program to her memory.”

For more information about volunteering with the Hill Country Community Band or making a monetary donation, Visit the HCCB website at and follow on Facebook for current band news and future concert dates.

“A Tribute to America” concert July 5, 2021

Musical Program:

“The Star Spangled Banner”; arr. by Larry Clark and Greg Gilpin

“America the Beautiful,” by Samuel Augustus Ward; arr. by Carmen Dragon

“Amazing Grace,” by John Newton; arr. by Frank Ticheli

“American Flourish,” by Robert W. Smith

“Armed Forces – The Pride of America”; arr. by Larry Clark and Greg Gilpin

“As All the Heavens Were a Bell,” by Jay Bocook

“Battle Hymn of the Republic,” by Peter J. Wilhousky; arr. by James Neilson

“Overture to ‘Candide’,” by Leonard Bernstein

“Hymn to the Fallen,” by John Williams

“God Bless America,” by Irving Berlin; arr. by John Edmondson

“The Stars and Stripes Forever” march, by John Philip Sousa; arr. by Brion/Schissel

“Spring into Music!” concert 5/23/21 CANCELED

Unfortunately, due to potential rain, our concert had to be canceled. This was to have been the program:

“The Thunderer” March by John Philip Sousa; arranged by Brion/Schissel

“Overture to ‘Candide'” by Leonard Bernstein; transcribed by Clare Grundman

“A Tribute to Dave Brubeck” with “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo à la Turk”; arranged by Patrick Roszell

“Salvation Is Created” by Tschesnokoff; arranged by Bruce H. Houseknecht

“Amparito Roca” Spanish March by Jaime Texidor

“West Side Story” Selection by Leonard Bernstein; arranged for Band by W.J. Duthoit