|SUNSET HIGH SCHOOL>|
|2120 W. Jefferson|
|Dallas, TX 75208|
Sunset's first all school band was established in 1937 by Otto K. Michels, who had been choral and instrumental music director since 1926. When he separated the band from the orchestra, the "Purple and White Band" was formed. The seventy-two members of the new band wore military type uniforms.(Please note - up to this time (1926-1936) the Sunset Band and was under the direction of the J.R.O.T.C. program. The first Band Director was Colonel William Hertzog. Colonel Hertzog overcame the difficulties of few instruments and players and turned out a remarkable band for the beginning school. It did however, perform at all school functions with only J.R.O.T.C personnel. When the band became the "Purple & White Band" anyone in school that played an instrument could be a member of the Sunset Band).
At this point in time there seems to be a discrepancy as to who the band director was. According to the 1942 annual, the band director was J.D. Bradbury and in 1943 annual the band director was Perry B. Dennis. In 1944 Otto Michels became the band director again with a student assistant director Thornton Victery. Most of this information was handed down from a lot of different sources. We now have a complete set of Year Books from 1926 to present that might help solve a few lingering questions.
Mr. Michels moved to the Social Studies Department in 1947 and Mr. John J. Santillo, became the band director. The band obtained new military uniforms in 1950.
Mr. Santillo left Sunset in 1951 and later become a top administrator over personnel with the Dallas Schools and Ned Miller was the band director for one year. Russell Williams followed and began a rebuilding program. He left in 1956 to be followed by Otis Harvy, 1957-59.
Ray Kelton directed the band until 1961.
Ralph Utley, a talented musician, came to Sunset as band director in 1961. He built the band into one of the best in the area. The name, "Purple and White" was changed to "Spotlight Band". In addition to the new military uniforms of 1960, Mr. Utley designed another in the "Dixie Land" style. They wore white pants and shirts, purple vests, sleeve garters, bow ties, and straw hats.
1965 brought David Hooten to Sunset as the new band director. Maintaining the established high position of the band in Dallas, Mr. Hooten stayed until 1970. He was followed by Bill Lively, who changed the marching style from military to "show" band. The name was changed to "The Bison Band" During the year 1970-71; the band was rated as one of the top five bands in the state.
David Pittman, who followed Mr. Lively, took the band to the Tri-State Contest in Enid, Oklahoma, where they won the sweepstakes, the highest award given.
The new director, David Fawcus, 1972-73, helped the band acquire another uniform, purple and white striped blazers worn with white shirts and pants and straw hats.
Charles (Chuck) Robinson came to Sunset in 1973. Through hard work in various fund-raising activities, the band has acquired new show-band uniforms. They are white with French, hand-twilled gold Mylar braid and dancing fringe worn with large purple hats with white plumes. Mr. Robinson has taken the band to Stillwater, Oklahoma for the Oklahoma State University Homecoming Parade, to the Fiesta Flambeau Parade in San Antonio, and to Portland, Oregon for the Rose Festival Parade and activities. "That Sunset Bison Band" won honors in all of these events, as well as many others in the city and state.
Mr. Robinson left Sunset at the end of the first semester in the 1980-1981 school year and was followed by Ken Jones (Jan. 1981 to Dec.1981).
Charles L. Benat became the director on Dec. 2, 1981. Mr. Benat retired at the end of the 2005 school year.
Benny Hill became the director in 2005. Mr. Hill came to Sunset from Woodrow Wilson High School. Mr. Hill retired in June of 2006
The newest addition to the Sunset band family is Rametria Smith. More news about the new band director will follow later.
The marching band is only one of the instrumental groups at Sunset. There have been beginning bands, stage bands, Lab Band, and orchestra throughout the years. Sunset has one of the best know Mariachi programs in the state directed by Mr. Fedrico Cisneros. All of these organizations have been led, changed, and always improved by the various directors. In the early '70's, former band director, Ralph Utley returned to Sunset and the area junior high schools as orchestra director.
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