WT Concert Band to pay tribute to Charleston victims in powerful performance

The West Texas A&M University Concert Band’s first spring concert is set to begin at 5 p.m. March 3 in Mary Moody Northen Recital Hall on WT’s Canyon campus and will be livestreamed on the WT School of Music’s Facebook page. (Courtesy Photo)

CANYON A piece honoring the victims of a horrific tragedy is the centerpiece of the West Texas A&M University Concert Band’s first spring concert.

Omar Thomas’ “Of Our New Day Begun” pays tribute to the victims of a June 2015 domestic terrorism attack on the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

“This is one of the most emotionally powerful pieces I’ve ever conducted,” Dr. Russ Teweleit, concert band director and professor of music education, said in a news release. “We look forward to sharing this brilliant composition live in concert.”

The performance will begin at 5 p.m. March 3 in Mary Moody Northen Recital Hall on WT’s Canyon campus and will be livestreamed on the WT School of Music’s Facebook page. Admission is free. For information, call 806-651-2840.

Thomas said his greatest challenge was “walking the line between reverence for the victims and their families, and honoring my strong, bitter feelings towards both the perpetrator and the segments of our society that continue to create people like him.”

“I realized that the most powerful musical expression I could offer incorporated elements from both sides of that line—embracing my pain and anger while being moved by the displays of grace and forgiveness demonstrated by the victims’ families,” Thomas wrote on his website.

“Of Our New Day Begun” is rooted in Black American church tradition—incorporating the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as well as blues harmonies and melodies, singing, stomping and clapping.

The concert also will include the lightning-fast “Gavorkna Fanfare” by Jack Stamp, conducted by Blake Livingston, a graduate student in conducting from Amarillo; the dark march “Xerxes” by John Mackey, conducted by Braden Lefevre, a graduate student in conducting from Canyon; and the bright classic “The Hounds of Spring” by Alfred Reed.”

Concert Band Roster February 2024


  • Sofia Robles, junior from San Antonio
  • Riley Spalding, freshman from Amarillo
  • Annelise Mora, freshman from Burleson
  • Gaby Morales, freshman from Wylie
  • Lilia Trayler, senior from Stratford
  • Claudia Itza, freshman from San Benito
  • Diana Larraga, junior from Garland
  • Abigail Wade, senior from Houston
  • Elena Moreno, junior from Amarillo
  • Isabel Hernandez, junior from Amarillo
  • Alex Lam, junior from Wylie
  • Jacob Gutierrez, sophomore from Farwell
  • Hannah Pollard, sophomore from Hagerman, New Mexico
  • Daniel Cera, freshman from Amarillo
  • William Donato Rodriguez, freshman from Amarillo
  • Rachel Snell, sophomore from Perryton


  • Marissa Portillo, freshman from Lubbock
  • Joceylyn Morales, junior from Amarillo


  • Noah Reneau, senior from Amarillo
  • Bryan Rushin, freshman from Plainview


  • Xander Aleman, freshman from Plainview
  • Isla Taber, sophomore from Paris
  • Faith Powell, junior from Amarillo
  • Sydney Fishburn, senior from Spearman
  • Tristan Brunson, junior from Kosse
  • Kayla Cabrera, senior from Bedias
  • Jazmyn Mckeel, sophomore from Wylie
  • Jeran Nolen, junior from Stinnett
  • Braden Lefevre, graduate student from Canyon

Bass Clarinet

  • Keely Burkahalter, sophomore from Hereford
  • Keller Martinez, freshman from Lubbock
  • Trinity Whorton, freshman from Haskell
  • Samantha Young, freshman from Hereford

Alto Saxophone

  • Emanuel Garcia, sophomore from Dumas
  • Dillon Martin, junior from Odessa
  • Michael Larson, freshman from Amarillo
  • Katie Aschoff, graduate student from David City, Nebraska
  • Fernando Anguiano, sophomore from Spearman
  • Caleb Guerrero, freshman from Hereford

Tenor Saxophone

  • Zach Limb, senior from Midland
  • Caydee Burden, sophomore from Eureka, Kansas
  • Orlando Moreno, sophomore from Stratford

Baritone Saxophone

  • Winter Hartnett, freshman from Bryan
  • Coby Mount, junior from Midland


  • Nassir Reyes, senior from Shallowater
  • Connor Mclenny, junior from Amarillo
  • Diego Arias, sophomore from Amarillo
  • Jordan Bunn, senior from Tulia
  • Trey Ferguson, sophomore from Booker
  • Gisselle Martinez, freshman from Amarillo
  • Jack Sprague, sophomore from Amarillo
  • Andrew Mouw, freshman from Amarillo


  • Kinslea Blau, freshman from Odessa
  • Thomas Rodriguez, junior from Katy
  • Kevin Olivas, freshman from Amarillo
  • Priscilla Sosa, freshman from Tyler
  • Dorothy Estridge, freshman from Fritch
  • Sada Munoz, freshman from Levelland
  • Fredd Davila, freshman from Pampa
  • Patrick Lucas, graduate student from Odessa


  • Taylor Martindell, freshman from Amarillo
  • Alec Jung, junior from Midland
  • Cayden Chazarreta, freshman from Fort Worth
  • Gabriel Johnson, freshman from Lipan
  • Domingo Ornelas, freshman from Midland

Bass Trombone

  • Evan Perry, freshman from Bushland
  • DJ Brooks, junior from Houston


  • Noah Portillo, junior from Lubbock
  • David Uribe, sophomore from Wheeler
  • James Selman, junior from Amarillo
  • Natalie Hernandez, junior from San Angelo
  • Zachary Blake, freshman from Wolfforth
  • Caleb O’Donnel, freshman from Amarillo


  • Michael Genera, freshman from El Paso
  • Matias Flores, freshman from Hale Center
  • Creed Nicholson, freshman from Amarillo
  • Chance Fox, sophomore from Bushland
  • Isaiah Nañez, sophomore from Dumas
  • Gerry Lara, sophomore from El Paso


  • Lexi Baeza, freshman from Odessa
  • Haley Hunter, senior from Monahans
  • Hannah Metcalf, freshman from Joshua
  • Paden Mick, sophomore from Dimmit
  • JP O’Brien, sophomore from Anna
  • Madie Ray, freshman from Claude
  • Melinda Thomas, sophomore from Amarillo
  • Noah Lopez, graduate student