The sounds of the season can be heard in Ranger next week thanks to members of the Abilene Community Band. The historic group will perform its annual free Christmas concert in Ranger on Monday, Dec. 9, beginning at 7 p.m. in the new Ranger College Auditorium.
The band, which is comprised of musicians from throughout the Abilene area, has performed a Christmas program in Ranger every year since 2005. Prior to this year, the Ranger College band had performed as part of the annual Christmas at the Gholson.
For Abilene Community Band members Jim Cockburn, Bob Johnson and Ashley Weaver, the concert will be a homecoming. Cockburn and Johnson, both Ranger residents, have been part of the band since 1986. Weaver, a native of DeLeon, is a former Ranger College band member.
The Abilene Community Band, which was formed in 1976 as part of the country’s bicentennial celebration, doesn’t normally perform outside of Abilene. However, in 2005, members of the group agreed to perform along with the Ranger College band at a concert in support of Johnson, who had suffered a heart attack.
“After that performance, members of the Abilene Community Band enjoyed the experience,” said Cockburn. “When there was no longer a Ranger College band, the community band volunteered to come perform at the Christmas at the Gholson.”
The Christmas at the Gholson gala was originally conceived by the 47 Club, a local women’s organization that wanted to create a Christmas-oriented event in the downtown portion of the community in the 1980s. The Abilene Community Band was unable to perform at the Christmas at the Gholson gala this year due to its increased size. The band showcases more than 50 members, making it too large for hotel’s lobby.
“The band just outgrew fitting into the lobby,” said Cockburn. “When the band got in there, it didn’t leave much room for residents to come in and enjoy.”
The Ranger High School band and choir and RHS students from the Drama program replaced the Abilene Community Band in the Christmas at the Gholson event, which was held Dec. 2.
Having been involved with the Christmas celebration in Ranger for more than a decade, members of the Abilene Community Band decided to continue its annual performance. They reached out to Ranger College, which recently opened a new auditorium.
“The Abilene Community Band enjoys coming to Ranger and performing,” said Cockburn. “They wanted to continue to come here and perform, and the new auditorium provided a venue that is large enough to hold the band and still have room for people to come and enjoy.”
Monday’s performance will also be a continuation of joining of the Abilene Community Band and Ranger College Choir. The choir will present a program followed by the ACB program and then the two will perform a special number to close the concert.
The Abilene Community Band’s performance is the first performance by a large-scale band in the college’s new auditorium. The RC Choir, under the direction of Choir Director Jessica Wiseman, stages the first-ever concert in the new facility on Thursday, March 5, with a holiday concert. Hopefully area residents will come hear these two groups and take the opportunity to enjoy the new addition to the Ranger College campus.