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Hill Country Community Band Open to Musicians From Experienced to Rusty

Robert Moss stored away his euphonium many years ago, but when his kids were in the middle school and high school bands, he dusted it off and started playing again. He joined the Hill Country Community Band in 2002. See more photos below the story. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

MARBLE FALLS — Robert Moss began his musical studies in the fourth grade. In the fifth grade, he started playing an instrument. The future Marble Falls parks and recreation director continued playing music for about a decade longer.

“I played through high school and two years at the University of Texas,” Moss said.

Then, he stored away his euphonium, and there it remained for about two decades. He picked it up again when his children began playing in the middle school and high school bands. His kids, however, had a performance outlet; Moss was a one-man band.

That was until he discovered the Hill Country Community Band in 2002.

“I heard about the band, started playing with them, and have been doing it ever since,” Moss said. “It’s just a great chance to get together with other musicians, play, and perform.”

The band, made up of residents of the Highland Lakes and nearby communities, performs about 15 shows a year. Members rehearse at 7 p.m. Thursdays at First Baptist Church, 901 La Ventana Drive.

The band started in 1992, but many people don’t know it exists.

“That’s one of the biggest things we face,” band member Joe Mantheiy said. “It’s been around since 1992, but a lot of people have never heard of us.”

The band performed Dec. 15 at the Marble Falls Public Library for a Christmas concert. Mantheiy said this was the third year for that particular performance, and each year, more people have shown up. During this past concert, library staff kept shuffling in more and more chairs as the audience stretched from the start of the library’s youth section almost all the way back to the checkout desks.

“It was a great turnout, and the people really looked like they enjoyed it,” he said.

The Hill Country Community Band offers people who play instruments, or have played in years past, a chance to be part of a musical group again or for the first time. One thing Mantheiy has noticed is how band members support each other, even new ones.

“If you haven’t played in … since you were in high school or college, come on out,” Mantheiy said. “We’ll work with people.”

There are no tryouts, just a chance to rekindle that musical flame.

Moss said while it’s fun to play your instrument by yourself, it’s just not the same as performing in a band.

“When you have to play with a group, it’s a time thing,” he said. “If you’re doing it right as a band, it’s going to sound like one.”

Though they aren’t professional musicians (many are retired high school band directors), the Hill Country Community Band isn’t afraid of tackling more challenging pieces of music. Mantheiy said conductor Alan Dean brings in difficult selections.

“And there are some really incredible arrangers out there with some wonderful music,” he said.

Along with the Hill Country Community Band, Moss said members also perform in “subgroups” such as with First Baptist Church of Marble Falls or the Heart of Texas Orchestra.

“The main thing is we all love and enjoy music,” Moss said.

Members probably don’t envision a future career in music, but the Hill Country Community Band offers them a creative outlet, even a way to relax or challenge themselves in new ways. Mantheiy is an emergency room doctor but finds music (he plays in about six different groups) to be a great stress reliever.

“Kind of like some people do yoga,” he said, “I play music.”

The group has also given Moss the opportunity few parents ever get: to play in a band alongside their children. When his daughter, Taylor, was starting out in the school band, she also played in the Hill Country Community Band. For Moss, it was great performing with her, but he also loved that his daughter was supported by a number of very skilled musicians who helped the sixth-grader with her music.

“We’d love to have more people and continue to grow the band,” Mantheiy said.

If someone can’t make it every week to rehearsal, that’s fine. Come anyway.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Moss said. “It’s a lot of fun, and so rewarding.”

Call Mantheiy at (830) 385-3641 for more information on the Hill Country Community Band or the Heart of Texas Orchestra.

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