10th annual Central Texas Music Festival

Mary Ellen Tolliver of Killeen rehearses with the Heights Concert Band on Wednesday. The band is part of the 10th annual Central Texas Music Festival in Copperas Cove. It performs at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Within the walls of what appears to be a small building on Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Harker Heights is a growing, bustling business that caters to customers who lean toward the musical side of life.

And while The Band Room may be similar to other music stores, what sets it apart is the 50-plus member band of hometown musicians that gather there to rehearse every week in Barnegie Hall, the in-house rehearsal facility.

Conductor Carlton R. Morris founded the Heights Concert Band in 1978. Under his direction, the band presents instrumental programs that include military marches, overtures, Broadway show tunes, solos, trios and popular songs.

The number of years of experience in this group is more than 608 years, according to the band.

Richard Schneider of Temple is an avid follower of the Heights Concert Band and is friends with one of the musicians.

“Their stage presence is remarkable,” Schneider said. “I’ve been a fan of this group for 15 years and they bring to each performance a look of formality, but not so much that it distracts from being highly entertaining.”

Peggy Schultz of Killeen also enjoys the band’s music and calls herself a groupie.

“They can’t do without me; that’s why I’m at every concert,” she said.

In 1979, the band began a series of annual activities known as the Mid-Winter Music and Arts Festival in February. What started with one high school in a shared concert has now grown to more than 20 groups and more than 500 individual performers.

The band will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lea Ledger Auditorium at Copperas Cove High School. The selections will include “The Beacon of Freedom,” a world premiere tune by Ken C. Wood, “Raymond Overture,” “Carnival of Venice,” “The Croxley March,” “Fairest Lord Jesus,” “Begin the Beguine” and “Tried and True. ”

“This group of musicians is outstanding and like any other group we are only as good as our leader,” said Wood, resident composer and arranger for the band. “This community is very lucky to have a group of this caliber and a director like Carlton. He’s from the old school. That means music first then socialization later.”

The band is made up of adults who have formally played before, some from the military. They also have an apprentice program usually featuring one outstanding student in each section.

Some of the members are former band directors and retired military people who just love to play, Wood said.

For more information about the Heights Concert Band and The Band Room, call (254) 699-2263 or (254) 690-3300.

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