By Mike Cook
Mesilla Valley Concert Band (MVCB) has 100 members “from all walks of life,” said director Michael Mapp. “That’s what makes him really special.”
The nearly 35-year-old community group includes teachers, engineers, conductors, professional musicians, students, retirees – even snowbirds who missed MVCB’s first performance in over 18 months. in October, but will be in the band for their next holiday concert.
The free holiday concert will take place on December 5 at 3 p.m. at the Atkinson Recital Hall at New Mexico State University Music Center, 1075 N. Horseshoe St.
Most of the members are from the Las Cruces area, but some are from El Paso and one member even makes the two-hour trip from Roswell “just because he wants to play,” said Mapp, group director and coordinator. of the Graduate Instrumental. Driving program at NMSU. He is also conductor of the NMSU Wind Symphony and teaches conducting and literature courses.
“These people came together because they all love music,” Mapp said.
Mapp said a few in the group were worried about repeating and performing again because of the pandemic, but “people saw we were okay,” he said. The audience for the October concert – aptly named “A Joyous Return” – was 300 to 400, Mapp said, up from an average of 600 to 700 before the pandemic. But the group is hoping for a huge turnout for their holiday concert.
Mapp, in his fifth year on the NMSU staff, has seen a few of his students and alumni at MVCB, he said. About a third of the group’s members had Mapp’s predecessor as MVCB director, Dr William Clark, as a professor at NMSU.
Clark, who joined NMSU faculty in 1985 as group director and became president of the music department in 1994, partnered with John Schutz and Mike White to create MVCB in 1987. The group started with 30 participants. who responded to an ad in the local newspaper. . The group has presented over 200 free concerts to over 150,000 people.
MVCB combines traditional group music with orchestral pieces so that its concerts include something “that everyone in the ensemble and the audience can relate to,” Mapp said.
The October concert, he said, featured “happy music” to strengthen the human spirit and engender resilience.
The December 5 “Sounds of the Season” concert will feature holiday classics, Mapp said, including “Sleigh Ride,” a song honoring Hannukah, “The Nutcracker Suite” and an audience singing traditional Christmas carols – “from the music that gets the mind in the holiday season, ”he said.
A native of Hobbs, Mapp spent 12 years in Kansas, where he was conductor at Washburn University in Topeka from 2013 until his return to the NMSU in 2017. Mapp conducted the Kansas City Civic Orchestra and was guest conductor of the Medical Arts Symphony. of Kansas City.
A saxophone player, Mapp said he enjoys playing classical music in addition to playing in jazz groups. He also plays the piano. In addition to his duties at NMSU and as Director of the MVCB, Mapp is active as a guest conductor, clinician, referee and producer across the country.
Taking on the leadership of MVCB has been “quite an honor,” Mapp said. Even though his job as a group manager is more than a full-time job, he “wouldn’t think of not doing it,” Mapp said.
“Now is the time for me to relax and get back to the real reason we are doing it all – for fun, the deeper things that make us human,” he said.
Mapp holds a doctorate in musical arts in wind conducting from the University of Kansas, a master’s degree in music in conducting from Wichita State University, and a bachelor’s degree in music education from NMSU, where he graduated with honors and a Crimson Scholar – as well as a student of Clark.
Mapp’s wife, Dr. Hyerim Mapp, is a cellist and orchestra teacher at Centennial High School. She is also a staff member of the Las Cruces Youth Orchestra. The Mapps have a dachshund, Karma.
The nonprofit MVCB rehearses from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday night at the NMSU Music Building, Mapp said, and the band members “should devote some time to it” on their own.
For more information and MVCB and to join the group, visit www.mesillavalleyconcertband.org.
Upcoming free concerts
MVCB has these upcoming concerts, which are free and open to the public and will take place in the Atkinson Recital Hall inside the NMSU 1075 N. Horseshoe St. Music Building on the NMSU campus.
- Sunday, December 5, 3 pm: “Sounds of the Season”, featuring a special guest conductor for Sleigh Ride.
- Sunday March 20, 2022, 3pm: “Hope Springs Eternal”;
- Sunday May 8, 2022, 3 p.m .: “Summer Heat”;
- Monday July 4, 2022, 10 am: “Independence Day”.