What: The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra “Symphony Fantastique”

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Memorial Auditorium, 1300 7th St.

Information: (940) 723-6202 or WFSO.org.

                                      

The 2018-19 Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra season continues at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Auditorium with a post-Halloween “Symphonie Fantastique.”

The performance features Saint-Saens “Dance Macabre, Op. 40,” Schumann “Piano Concerto in A Minor” and Berlioz “Symphonie Fantastique.” Pianist Shai Wosner, a long-time associate of WFSO Music Director and Conductor Fouad Fakhouri, will perform the Schumann Piece.

Fakhouri said he was very pleased with the Symphony’s opening season performance in Akin Auditorium on the Midwestern State University campus.

“It was exactly what I had hoped for,” he said.

“The feedback from the audience was very supportive and positive. They liked the venue and being that close to the orchestra. Overall, it was very successful. Expect to see that again in the 2019-2020 season.”

The conductor said the initial idea for the “Symphonie Fantastique” program was to perform it the week before Halloween, but the scheduling didn’t work out.

He is very pleased to work with Wosner, whom he met in Germany in 1999 and is now his neighbor, by chance, in Manhattan off Riverside Drive. “He’s a great pianist and a magnificent talent and we have worked together numerous times.”

The two did the Schumann concerto nine years ago in North Carolina. “It’s one of the top ten piano concertos in the world,” he said. Fakhouri said he heard it for the first time when he was 16 and wore out his cassette tape listening to it.

 Fakhouri has conducted Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique” many times.

“It’s truly a revolutionary piece and continues to be. No matter how many times you do a piece like this, it’s always earth shattering. There’s such pieces that are so ahead of their time. They’re hard to comprehend. It’s so imaginative, so powerful programmatically and artistically.” He cannot wait to share the piece with the audience.

Berlioz wrote “Symphonie Fantastique” when he was 27. The composer had fallen in love with Harriet Smithson, a Shakespearean actress and decided he was going to marry her.

“The entire premise of the story is an artist who overdoses and then goes through this journey over 5 movements.” This journey includes a witch’s Sabbath and seeing himself going to the guillotine.

“The piece is really out there, and it’s almost like a precursor to the psychedelic music of the 60’s. Musically and orchestrally, it’s very advanced and ambitious,”

Saint-Saens “Dance Macabre” is similar to the Berlioz, the conductor said, the subject matter being a bit dark. People may recognize the music from “Fantasia” and moves like “Tombstone,” he said. “The solo violin plays an almost fiddle like melody that recurs through the piece.”

Halloween or not, he said, the program is very worthy of being heard.

“The program is very accessible,” he said. “This is music that anyone can come and listen to. Even people that may not be familiar with these particular pieces will recognize them”.

The Saint-Saens and Berlioz pieces “are movie music before movies were created. They have a story that is weaved into the music.”

The performance will feature the largest orchestra he’s conducted in Wichita Falls, with close to 80 musicians on stage for the Berlioz. “The piece,” he said, “is a unique experience.”