History of Summer Band Concerts at Centenary College of Louisiana Since 1957
In 1957, B. P. Causey, director of bands at the Centenary College Hurley School of Music, established the Centenary Summer Band, which was comprised of local professional musicians. Over the ensuing 30 years, the ensemble performed in the Hargrove Amphitheatre at Centenary.
Between four and eight concerts were given each summer season. Audiences ranged from approximately 500 to as large as 3,000 concertgoers. The summer band concerts became a staple of summer life in Shreveport until 1987, at which time Mr. Causey ended the tradition due to advanced age and lack of funding. With no heir apparent to assume leadership of the ensemble, the Centenary Summer Band was silenced, apparently forever.
The dream was revived during the summer of 2000, when Mr. Causey’s son, Bill Jr., and Dr. Thomas Stone, director of instrumental music at Centenary. produced and reestablished the Centenary Summer Band Concert Series with financial backing from the Community Foundation of Shreveport-Bossier, the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, Centenary College, and the American Federation of Musicians Local 116. Three concerts were staged free and open to the public. The series continued during the summers of 2001, 2002 and 2003.
The purpose of the project is wide-ranging and multitudinous, Dr. Stone said. "Resurrecting the summer concert series has greatly enriched the Shreveport-Bossier musical landscape. During months when the Shreveport Symphony is in recess, professional music-making all but ceases in the Shreveport metropolitan area. A renewed series of concerts has provided the public with the opportunity to hear concert music of high quality performed by top-flight musicians," he said. Music is selected from a variety of styles, including marches, Broadway showtunes, overtures, tone poems, and solo works with band accompaniment.
A “concert in the park” atmosphere is the exemplar for the series, although mere entertainment is not the only mission. Substantive concert music is offered with the hope of developing sophistication and depth among the listening public. This comprises one facet of the educational mission.
Among the ranks of the performers is a complement of college students, mainly wind and percussion performers from the Hurley School of Music at Centenary. but from other area collegiate institutions as well. The concert series provides these developing musicians the opportunity to perform with professional musicians in a fast professional setting: one rehearsal only and a concert.
The professional musicians include many of the Hurley School of Music applied wind/ percussion faculty, who are performing alongside their own students, synergizing with them in an experts-only situation. Most of these performers are also members of the Shreveport Symphony who are able to augment their income through professional performance.
An additional educational benefit is the experience gained by area high school and junior high school band teachers who participate as performers. These musicians, who teach rather than perform for a living, sharpen their playing skills while being exposed to new literature. As growth is essential to maintaining the teacher’s edge in the classroom, discovery of new repertoire for the band is a critical component of preserving a fresh approach to everyday teaching.
Compiled by the Office of Public Relations, May 2000
Sources: Dr. Thomas Stone and Mr. Bill Causey, Jr.