The Community Series at Austin College is still celebrating its 50th anniversary by paying homage to individuals who had an impact on art appreciation in Texoma. The first Community Series performance of 2018 will be held Friday at Wynne Chapel at Austin College.


The artist that will be honored is Bill Collins II who helped found the Sherman High School Band in 1939.


”Originally, I was merely seeking a nice gesture of appreciation for Bill Collins III and his Sherman Jazz Museum for offering to sponsor an appearance by the legendary One O’Clock Lab Band on our 50th anniversary season,” Community Series President John McGinn said. “When I learned that his father Bill Collins Jr. had been the founding director of the Sherman High School Band back in 1939, I suspected right away that he would be a promising subject for one of our commemoration videos, especially given our ‘Celebrating Texoma Arts!’ theme. What I’ve learned about him since then has confirmed that suspicion ten times over.


“Bill Collins Jr. is truly one of Sherman’s finest and most devoted sons — a fine jazz musician, a distinguished board member of Austin College (the Collins Alumni Center is named after him), an avid supporter of Community Series, even a devoted amateur historian of Sherman and the region. His contribution to this community is a story well worth hearing and sharing.”


A lecture and demonstration will be held at 4 p.m. and the concert featuring the University of North Texas’ One O’Clock Lab Band with guest trombonist Marshall Gilkes will be held at 7:30 p.m.


Special features will be given by Austin College students Nate Essin, Nick Chaviers, and Carolyn Yao.


“Music meant a lot to my father growing up on a farm near Howe and attending Sherman schools,” Bill Collins III said. “Playing jazz helped him get into college. And, I thought it was fantastic when I heard that they wanted to commemorate him through the Community Series this year. It was well deserved. He was the first band director at Sherman High School. He used to also bring bands together for arts festivals and other events that took place around this area. He always wanted to bring music to Sherman.”


In celebration of its 50th anniversary this season, the Community Series has been pairing performances with commemorations. Commemorations in 2017 were held for Bill Armstrong, Cecil Isaac, Bruce Lunkley, and John D. and Sara Bernice Moseley.


“Music helps students with brain development,” Bill Collins III said. “Music classes help in the business world because all companies want to be better than their competitors. The way to do that is to have a creative staff. Music helps people be creative. It enhances creativity.”


When it came to researching the history of the Community Series for the 50th anniversary commemorative performances, McGinn said that it was jaw dropping the music appreciation that Grayson County has had.


“’No way they’ve played Sherman!’ I kept remarking to the empty room,” he said. “But they have. Just in the world of jazz — the focus of our Feb. 9 show — the list is astonishing, joyous: Stan Kenton, Woody Hermann, Al Hirt, Buddy Rich, Doc Severinsen, Guy Lombardo and on and on. We’ve begun running these slideshows of keyboardists, vocalists, orchestras, speakers, theatrical productions on our Community Series website and I estimate that by the final installment this parade of world-class talent will be close to 40 minutes long! That what the Community Series has brought to Texoma over the past 50years, and that’s what we’re looking to keep bringing here with the blessing and support of all who find value in it.”


General admission tickets are $15. College faculty and staff tickets are $5 with an Austin College ID. Faculty and staff are permitted one $5 guest ticket. AC students with a college ID and persons under the age of 18 may attend the performance for free.


“From my early years to the present day, I know so well how transformative it can be to attend the creation of artistic experiences that are eloquent, moving and powerful,” McGinn said. “Community Series offers that to young people and more. For instance, jazz is essentially an improvised art form – ‘jazzing’ spontaneously around selected tunes. Performers not only need to be freely creative, they also need to listen carefully to one another, to look for opportunities to dialogue, to know when and how to grab an idea and run with it. Every jazz performance is unique, in the moment, magical – especially with the likes of Marshall Gilkes and the One O’Clock Lab Band. We’re hoping that students in particular will take advantage of the lecture-demo at 4 p.m. If you want to learn something of what will truly be happening ‘on the fly’ in the evening, by all means catch the earlier event as well — you’ll be glad you did!”


Upcoming Community Series events with be held on March 23 with Red River Songwriters and April 7 with Susan Lamb Cook performing. For more information, visit www.communityseries.org.