Jim McKone

Making history on Dec. 8, the McAllen Symphonic Band was forced to turn away many music-lovers for the first time ever at the McAllen Civic Center.

"Christmas Around the World" filled the 1,776 seats to

break the all-time record for this event.

"This program had a lot of energy," Conductor David Isadore said after much applause and several standing ovations.

"We were picking up the energy from the sold-out audience," he added. "There was a tremendous reaction for the Christmas Sing-Along to climax the evening."

Seven of the best-known Christmas songs were sung by most of the crowd, a majority of them Winter Texans who knew them all by heart.

This sing-along featured Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, O Come, All Ye Faithful, Deck the Halls, Silent Night, The First Noel, Joy to the World and We Wish You a

Merry Christmas.

Assistant Director Manuel Arambula added additional fire and beauty to the diverse program by directing some of the many international versions of Christmas.

The Band Brass Ensemble brought classics like Deck the Halls, Away in a Manger and Jingle Bells to life.

Jose Feliciano's Latin-American Feliz Navidad and other foreign Christmas favorites from Spain, Israel, Ireland. and a surprising three songs from Germany all earned the

applause of a largely older audience that appreciates Christmas music.

All 70 musicians deserve mention, if there were space enough available. They come from a wide range of occupations, all unpaid lovers of fine music.

Markus Butcher, president of the Town Band Association, received an award for his services, yet declined to make a speech, because he was working enough as a trombonist that evening. He is a music teacher.

One of the other longest rounds of applause came to honor a non-musician, Mr. Ray Norton, longtime excellent master of ceremonies for the McAllen Symphonic Band. He returned to be master of ceremonies Dec. 8 after being badly injured in a car wreck and missing the first concert this season.

The next two concerts this season will be "Love and Country" Feb. 9 and "Young at Heart" March 23. Get your tickets early. Perhaps the heavy demand this time will create a second performance in the future, if practical.