WAVERLY – For more than a decade, the Waverly Community Band will help celebrate the holidays with a concert.
The band, made up of over 70 musicians, will hold their Christmas concert on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at Waverly High School.
Arch Hill is the director of the band, which was formed in 2008 by former Waverly High School instrumental music teacher Bob Maag.
“(Bob) got the whole thing going,” said Hill.
Maag, who taught Waverly students how to play an instrument for more than 40 years, is still a member of the band and will break out his baton to lead the band during one song on Sunday.
“He conducts one tune every concert,” said Hill.
Maag will conduct “Army of the Nile,” a British march by Kenneth J. Alford that was written during World War II.
It is not a Christmas song, but the concert is not all about holiday music, Hill said.
“It’s about 50-50 Christmas and other music,” he said.
There will also be an arrangement of “Loch Lomond,” a well-known traditional Scottish song that has the familiar lyrics, “You take the high road and I’ll take the low road and I’ll be in Scotland a’fore ye.”
The band will also tackle “Incidental Suite” written by Claude T. Smith, who taught music in Nebraska during his career.
The holidays will be represented by Christmas tunes packaged in a couple of medleys, along with more hymns and popular holiday music.
Dr. Alan Mattingly, professor of horn at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will but a soloist during the concert. Mattingly has performed around the world and joined the UNL faculty in 2006.
Along with the guest soloists, the rest of the band is made up of excellent musicians that exceed expectations of a “normal” community band, according to Hill.
“It’s not your average community band,” he said. “They play a lot better than most community bands.”
The membership includes several members of the Nebraska National Guard’s 43rd Army Band, half a dozen retired military musicians and one member who played with the No. 1 Navy band in Washington, D.C., Hill said.
There are also school teachers, housewives and others who keep up their music skills by playing with the Waverly Community Band. They come from all over, as far away as Elkhorn and Crete and as close as down the street in Waverly.
“We’ve got about everybody,” said Hill.
The band includes all ages as well, from Maag who is in his mid-80s, to a pair of talented eighth graders and several members of the Waverly High School band.
Despite the range of ages, the ability level is high for these musicians in Hill’s professional opinion as director of the band since 2016.
“I can throw any piece of music in front of them and they can play it,” he said.
The band began when representatives from the community and the school system suggested it as a way to reach out to the people in the area. As the number of musicians has grown, so has the audience.
“Every year, we get more and more support,” Hill said.
Hill has been a member since the band first formed. He mainly plays French horn, although as a music educator, he can “play anything,” he said.
Hill is a former instrumental music teacher who worked in Lincoln Public Schools until he retired in 2011. His ties to Waverly include student teaching with Maag many years ago. His wife, Valerie, is a sixth grade science teacher for Waverly Public Schools as well and Hill works as a substitute teacher in Waverly and Lincoln.