Denton New Horizons Band celebrates 20th anniversary with UNT concert, new scholarship fund

Denton New Horizons Band celebrates 20th anniversary with UNT concert, new scholarship fund

Regents professor Debbie Rohwer conducts the Denton New Horizons Band, which she started in 1998, at the Murchison Performing Arts Center for the groups 20th Anniversary concert.

Denton New Horizons Band celebrates 20th anniversary with UNT concert, new scholarship fund
April 01
16:58 2018

The Denton New Horizons Band celebrated their 20th anniversary Monday evening with a concert at Winspear Hall at UNT’s Murchison Performing Arts Center.

More than 200 people attended the concert, which ran from 7 to 9 p.m. and was followed by a reception. The band played 15 songs including “When I’m Sixty-Four” by Paul McCartney and John Lennon and a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

The group was founded by Professor of Music Education Debbie Rohwer in February 1998. Members of New Horizons are active adults and retirees who play a range of instruments as a wind ensemble and range in age from just under 50 to 93.

“When I was a Master’s student at the Eastman School of Music in New York, they had started the very first New Horizons Band there,” Rohwer said. “When I came down here I knew that I wanted to do it here because I’d seen what joy it brought to people there.”

Rohwer served as a conductor along with doctoral students Sam Escalante and Olivia Tucker, while College of Music Dean John Richmond served as a guest conductor.

The band has performed all over Texas, including collaboration performances with the New Horizons bands of Dallas and Norman, Oklahoma.

Corinth retiree Betty Bryant has played the clarinet with Denton New Horizons Band for all 20 years of its existence and said she plans to continue as long as she can.

“I played through middle school, then I quit and I never played again until I saw an article in the Denton Record-Chronicle,” Bryant said. “Debbie was starting up the New Horizons Band for anyone that was 50 or over and I’d been wanting to try to learn it again, so I just stepped up and joined.”

There are two different Denton New Horizons bands: one for beginners who have never picked up an instrument and another for more experienced players. The groups practice every Monday at the Denton Senior Center.

“They love to make music and they love to socialize, so every Monday, we make music together, we laugh and joke and have such a good time that every Monday is fresh,” Rohwer said.

Johnnie Holcomb has played the trumpet with New Horizons for eight years, after not playing for 35 years.

“I’ve probably made more good friends here than I have anywhere else,” Holcomb said. “Throughout the whole band, it’s an unspoken friendship. If you’re in the band, you’re not just a clarinet player, a trumpet player, you’re part of the whole group. So the relationships we’ve developed are probably going to be lifelong.”

Claudio Carvalho Jr. was in attendance to support a family member who plays in New Horizons.

“I think it was a great performance, it was a great evening for everyone involved,” Carvalho Jr. said. “It’s great to see the community participating.”

At the conclusion of the concert, Rohwer was presented with the Bob Rogers Service and Community Engagement Award, which is given by the Office of the President to a faculty or staff member “whose talent, dedication, passion and community service enhances both UNT and the greater community,” according to the Office for Faculty Success website.

Rohwer was also informed that a scholarship would be set up in her name after the members of the New Horizons Band secretly raised over $31,000 to fund it.

“It was the icing on the cake to have the awards but not at all necessary,” Rohwer said. “I would do it without any of the honors because the people are just so amazing to work with.”

Featured Image: Regents professor Debbie Rohwer conducts the Denton New Horizons Band, which she started in 1998, at the Murchison Performing Arts Center for the groups 20th Anniversary concert. Sean Riedel

About Author

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel was the news editor at the North Texas Daily from August 2018 to May 2019, and previously served as a staff writer from June 2017 to August 2018.

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