Looking for something awesome to do this weekend? Short on cash? Have we got the thing for you. And if you're just waiting for the Super Bowl to get started, this is a great way to gear up for the game.
On Sunday, Feb. 5 the Austin Symphony Brass Quintet will be presenting a free Centennial Concert, showcasing the music of John Philip Sousa, as a gift to the City of Austin and the University of Texas. The event is part of ASO's Centennial Celebration Season and will take place in the Gregory Gym on the UT campus.
The hour-long concert is a tribute to John Philip Sousa, who played eight times in Austin with his band. The first time was in 1902; he returned to the city in 1906 and again in 1911. Then, on Dec. 26, 1919, Sousa played in the Texas State Capitol in the House of Representatives — to a sold-out crowd, as usual.
A couple of years later, in 1921, then-Texas Governor Sayers suggested the UT men's gym as a venue for the upcoming Sousa concert in 1922, which was to be a children's matinee. At the time, the building was just a crude wooden shack north of what is now the Gregory Gym.
On the day of the concert 4,500 people packed into the old gym for what Mint O. James-Reed called a "most joyful experience" in her book, Music in Austin. James-Reed went on to describe the concert in glowing terms.
"His incomparable band music stirred the emotions of peoples all over the world for more than a quarter of a century, and his 'Stars and Stripes Forever' will be included in the repertoire of bands throughout time immemorial - possibly never to be surpassed in rousing, rhythmic enjoyment."
Sousa played once more in the Gregory Gym, in 1924, and played his final Austin concert in 1928 at the Junior High School.
The free performance is a gift from Dr. and Mrs. Edgar Harris in celebration of the Austin Symphony's 100th anniversary. It is the second concert of Sousa's music by the ASO Brass Quintet for the Centennial Season. Their first performance in Oct. 2011 was in Wooldridge Park in conjunction with the exhibit opening of "Sounding Together: 100 Years of the Austin Symphony" inside the Austin History Center. That exhibit will be showing until Feb. 12, 2012 so there is still time to catch it.
"If you have not seen this exhibit, we think that the museum captured the essence of the Austin Symphony which was begun with volunteer musicians in 1911 and has been sustained with thousands of hours by volunteers ever since," says Pat Harris, Centennial Chair for ASO. "Our Brass Quintet is very talented and entertaining as they give a short synopsis of each piece before it is played. The Gym is quite beautiful and was built in 1930 during the first Capital Campaign by the University."
The concert begins Sunday at 1 p.m. in Gregory Gym, located at 2101 Speedway on the University of Texas campus. For more information, visit www.AustinSymphony.org.