News

Richard Carter, For the Times Record News

Published 12:00 a.m. CT Jan. 25, 2019

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Memorial Auditorium, 1300 7th St.

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

 

For those listeners who loved the 0- “Pixar in Concert,” they’ll be happy to know that WFSO Conductor and Music Director Fouad Fakhouri has returned to the movies.

The “WFSO does Hollywood” program will commence at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Memorial Auditorium with the orchestra performing pieces from 10 movies, some of which date back to classic television shows. 

“This for me is a fun concert,” said Fakhouri. “It has some of my favorite music from movies. These concerts are fun and enjoyable, and not just for me. Audiences love those concerts.”

It’s Fakhouri’s first pops concert with the WFSO, “so I wanted it to be sort of memorable and sort of significant.”

A 75-piece orchestra will open with “Superman March.” “It’s a great tune by John Williams and everyone knows it. Young kids as well as adults have grown up listening to it.”

Fakhouri said that he approached the concert a little differently than he might have in the past. “I have done things that are very, very famous – things like ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Indiana Jones’ – things that people really, really know.” The pieces for this concert, he said, people will still recognize, but “it’s not necessarily music they may have heard recently except for “Mission Impossible.”

“I do it specifically because those sounds will conjure up the images in the movie from the back of the minds of people. This is music that stands alone. It’s music that does not need the movie.”

The Saturday program will continue with Zimmer’s “Curse of the Black Pearl” from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” a piece which includes the themes from each one of the adventure movies in the series.

For Audrey Hepburn fans, the WFSO will perform Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Followed by Lalo Schifrin’s energetic 1960’s soundtrack “Mission Impossible,” music just as popular from the 1960’s program to the recent movies.  

“We end the first half with a piece I have never done before but have wanted to do for a long time,” he said, “Trevor Jones ‘The Last of the Mohicans.’ This particular arrangement is about 15 minutes and covers the highlights of the movie: the main title, the elk hunt, the kiss, the fort battle and the top of the world. You get to sort of basically go through the movie in 15 minutes of music.”

Following an intermission, the WFSO returns with Williams’ “Flight to Neverland” from the 1990’s Peter Pan-inspired movie “Hook.” “The movie did okay but the music – especially the opening title we are doing – is just great music and some of the best John Williams has written.”

An arrangement titled “The Best of (James) Bond” is something Fakhouri has conducted before, and he said, “Audiences just adore it.”

 Italian composer Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack from “Cinema Paradiso” follows. “It’s one of my favorite movies, and it’s a fantastic score, but not that many people know it.” Morricone is best known for the soundtracks he did for the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns.

The WFSO will conclude with Elmer Bernstein’s “The Magnificent Seven” music.

“We may have a special encore at the end of the concert, if people want one.”

One of the things that Fakhouri hopes is that the “concert will give audiences a connection between what we do (symphonic music) and how it affects their day to day lives with the movies and TV they watch.

“My hope is we can connect that familiarity they have with these pieces and the movies, with what we do, and then come back to other concerts after that.”

 
 

Richard Carter, For the Times Record News

Published 12:00 a.m. CT Nov. 2, 2018

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.”

 
 

Richard Carter, For the Times Record News

Published 12:00 a.m. CT Dec. 7, 2018

What: “A Wichita Falls Holiday Celebration” Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra & Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra

Where: Memorial Auditorium, Seventh and Broad Street

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15

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

The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra will regale area listeners with a pre-Christmas musical celebration at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Memorial Auditorium. Special guests will be the Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra who will perform with the WFSO during the second half of the program.

“A Wichita Falls Holiday Celebration” will be made up of shorter pieces beginning with Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” from the ballet. The WFSO will then perform two pieces by American composer Leroy Anderson (best known for his work for the Boston Pops with Arthur Fielder), “Bugler’s Holiday” and “The Typewriter.”

The evening’s first half concludes with Robert Wendel’s “Overture to a Merry Christmas (After Mozart)” which combines the music of Mozart with Christmas music.

The second half, performed with the WFYSO, will include a Christmas singalong medley allowing the audience to sing with the songs. The combined orchestra will perform Shastokovitch’s “Festive Overture” and Ravel’s “Bolero” as well as finishing with Anderson’s “Caribbean Sleigh Ride.”

 

Dr. Susan Harvey, chair of the Midwestern State University music department, will also conduct “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo,” a piece the Trans-Siberian Orchestra has made famous. Harvey usually conducts the WFYSO.

This year the holiday performance will be a little different, said WFSO musical director and conductor, Fouad Fakhouri. “I decided to collaborate with the Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra. The second half of the concert will be our orchestra playing side by side with members of the youth orchestra.

For example, in the strings section, he said, each of the professional WFSO musicians will share the stand with a member of the WFYSO. “Each stand has space for two musicians.” There will be a total of 125 musicians on stage for the second half, 60 WFYSO and 65 WFSO members.

“The idea,” Fakhouri said, “is to have the kids learning from professional musicians to see how we perform as a professional orchestra. Hopefully that will give them the tools and knowledge they need to go back to what they do when they play and to help them develop.

The conductor compared it to an apprenticeship. “It’s one thing to take lessons with a teacher or be in a master class, but it’s very different to be in an environment where you are actually performing with a professional musician and to see how they do it in real time.

 “The holiday part of the evening is festive and a little bit more related to the occasion,” Fakhouri said. “The serious part, and I always try to do this with a holiday concert, is for the younger musicians to learn.

Both the Shastokovich and Ravel piece will not be easy for the students, he said. “It will push them musically. While ‘Bolero’ may seem easy, it’s not a simple piece. I want to challenge the kids and have them experience a true professional symphony orchestra environment.”

Fakhouri said the concert is the perfect way to end the year. “I am hoping a lot of members from the community come out.

“The purpose is to bring people to have a good time and to listen to music that will get them into the mood for the season as well as to have the children perform with us and to engage with professional musicians.”

 
 

Richard Carter, For the Times Record News

Published 12:00 a.m. CT Aug. 17, 2018

What: The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra 2018-2019 season

Where: Akin Auditorium, Midwestern State University, 3410 Taft Blvd and Memorial Auditorium, Seventh & Broad

When: Sept 22 through April 7, 2019

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

Admission: Single tickets just went on sale online. See event for prices.

The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra will open and close its 2018-2019 season at Akin Auditorium at Midwestern State University, with a Saturday evening and Sunday matinee for its Sept. 22-3 and April 7-8, 2019, performances.

The WFSO will also perform four concerts from Nov. 3 to Feb. 23, 2019 at Memorial Auditorium, the symphony’s home for many years.  

Non-season tickets went on sale earlier this week for the New Directions 2018-2019 season, the second under Musical Director and Conductor Fouad Fakhouri. Tickets are on sale online at the WFSO.org website or by contacting them at (940) 723-6202.

Fakhouri explained there were excellent reasons to open and close the season at Akin Auditorium with an evening show and a matinee. “We want to be able to attract people that may not be able to attend our evening concerts.

“The other reason to program concerts there,” he said, “is that I can program pieces that are more intimate, pieces that might get lost at Memorial,” he said.

The first Akin performance will open at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 and 3 p.m. Sept. 23 with Ives “The Unanswered Question,” Mozart “Piano Concerto No. 21” and Mendelssohn “Symphony No. 4.” “If you performed those pieces at Memorial,” he said, “they would work, the Mendelssohn would work, but you would lose the sort of intimacy of those pieces in comparison to doing them at Akin, specifically the Mozart.

The Mozart will feature Lewis Warren, a young pianist who began in Wichita Falls and who Fakhouri said is fantastic.

The WFSO will return to Memorial auditorium right after Halloween at 7:30 Nov. 3 to perform an appropriately titled “Symphonie Fantastique.” The evening features Saint-Saens “Dance Macabre, Op. 40,” Schumann “Piano Concerto in A Minor” and Berlioz “Symphonie Fantastique.”

The Schumann piano concerto, Fakhouri said, goes back to the performance of the Edvard Grieg piano concerto last season. “Grieg based his piano concerto on the Schumann. They are in the same key and open almost the same. Grieg was enamored of this piece of music.”

 
 

The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra kicks off its 71st anniversary with their season opener on September 22nd under the baton of Fouad Fakhouri. Last season, Fakhouri’s first with the WFSO, proved to be one of the best seasons in recent memory with guest artists Wilford Brimley, Martin Camacho, Canadian Brass, and Pixar in Concert.

This season continues moving the WFSO in new directions and promises to be equally as engaging. There’s a big difference this year, though. The WFSO has added a sixth concert to the 2018-2019 season. Not only is there an extra concert on the schedule, two of the six concerts will be performed at Akin Auditorium on the campus of MSU-Texas. Alicia Deges, Assistant Executive Director, says, “We are anticipating that this new direction for the WFSO will make concert-going better for our patrons. Not only is the new venue more accessible physically, but the addition of an additional performance time will make a perfect afternoon activity for young families and students!”

The two Akin concerts are really four, in that each Saturday evening performance will be repeated during a Sunday matinee at 3:00 pm. Akin is known for its excellent acoustics. It’s smaller than Memorial Auditorium—smaller and more intimate, which will give Fakhouri the opportunity to present music that is itself a little more intimate, like American composer Charles Ives’ “The Unanswered Question” and Felix Mendelssohn’s “Italian” symphony. According to the Maestro, “The new Akin series expands our traditional concert offering, allowing us to explore repertoire that is better suited for a more intimate venue. The fact that Akin has superior acoustics is a great plus for our musicians, guest artists and our audiences.”

Also new this season are four thematic concerts—“Symphonie Fantastique” to celebrate the arrival of fall in early November, the “WFSO does Hollywood” in January, “Dance Mix” in February, and, of course, the annual WFSO “Holiday Celebration” in December.

The orchestra will be joined by three young world-class soloists this season. Pianist Lewis Warren, Jr. will be performing Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major” on Sept. 22nd at Akin. Warren, a native of Wichita Falls, has studied at both SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and the New England Conservatory in Boston. Another young pianist, Shai Wosner, will perform Schumann’s “Piano Concert in A Minor” on Nov. 3rd. Originally from Israel, Wosner has studied with several well-known teachers in America, including Emanuel Ax at the Juilliard School. The season finale will feature violinist William Hagen, who was recently hailed in “The Dallas Morning News” as a “brilliant virtuoso.” “I am very excited about next season’s guest artists,” says Fakhouri. “They are brilliant soloists who bring great virtuosity and artistry to the concert hall. I am particularly looking forward to working, once again, with my friend Shai Wosner.”

For more information on what is sure to be an exciting season, call 940-723-6202 or visit wfso.org or Facebook (Wichita Falls Symphony).

 

-Dr. Todd Giles

 

 

 
 

The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra has had a long and productive relationship with Midwestern State University going back to 1948 when their first conductor, Frederic Balazs, took a faculty position at MSU and established the WFSO as the tenth orchestra in Texas.

More recently, MSU piano professor Ruth Morrow was joined by two of the orchestra’s most important advocates and benefactors, Aurora Bolin and Dale Prothro, in 1999 for a performance of Mozart’s “Concerto for Three Pianos and Orchestra,” and last year MSU’s Martin Camacho joined the orchestra to perform the music of Grieg.

This season the WFSO will for the first time in their 71-year history present regular performances at Akin Auditorium on the MSU campus. These concerts will open and close the season. “Akin Auditorium offers the WFSO an opportunity to perform music perfectly suited to the more intimate performance space,” says Elizabeth Yeager, President of the WFSO. “By offering both a Saturday evening and Sunday matinee performance, we hope to give more community members an opportunity to experience the music of the WFSO.”

The opening concert will be held on Sept. 22 at 7:30 pm at Akin, with the Sunday matinee at 3:00 pm. The guest artist for the first two Akin concerts will be pianist Lewis Warren Jr. Like Mozart, Warren began composing his own songs at the age of five, and since the age of eight, he has been a top-prize winner in local, state and international piano competitions.

“We are so excited to have Lewis perform as a guest artist with the orchestra this season,” says the WFSO’s Katie Parkey. “For the past two summers, the WFSO has partnered with the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation and the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture to present Lewis at the TALL summer arts camps. At the workshops, he performed piano, sang, talked about his life journey, and worked with the campers. He is an inspiring young man!”

For the season opener, Warren will be joining members of the WFSO and Maestro Fakhouri in a performance of Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major.” The program will also include Felix Mendelssohn’s “Italian Symphony,” and a short American masterpiece for orchestra from 1906. Fakhouri, who spearheaded the new Akin concerts, says, “I am very much looking forward to performing these great masterpieces at Akin Auditorium. I specifically wanted to open the series with ‘The Unanswered Question’ by one of the most innovative American composers, the modernist Charles Ives.”

Warren, who has performed with many orchestras around the country, has also appeared on “America’s Got Talent” and was featured on “NASCAR’s Samsung 500,” where he performed the “National Anthem” in front of over 200,000 live spectators. In March 2012, he was a featured performer at the Van Cliburn Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Gala Celebration, and has recently released his first two CDs—“Shine on Us,” recorded at the Gateway Church and in 2015, and a holiday instrumental titled “A Christmas Album.”

Along with the new Akin concerts and this season’s three young guest artists, orchestral music fans will also have four new thematic concerts to look forward to—“Symphonie Fantastique,” “WFSO does Hollywood,” “Dance Mix,” and the annual “Holiday Celebration.” Those interested in learning more about the season can call 940-723-6202, or visit wfso.org.

 

-Dr. Todd Giles

 

 

 

 
 

Richard Carter, For the Times Record News

Published 5:14 p.m. CT April 16, 2018 | Updated 5:15 p.m. CT April 16, 2018

The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra closed its 70th season Saturday night with an extremely fun and entertaining multi-media pops concert, “Pixar in Concert,” a program which sold out.

While symphony representatives were not sure, Saturday may have been the first sold-out symphony performance since Van Cliburn played with the orchestra (twice) in the 1960’s.

“Pixar in Concert” clearly capped off an inspired season for the WFSO and points to a very bright 2018-19 season, and beyond, for the orchestra.

The Pixar show brought the talented WFSO musicians together with guest performers to play the soundtrack music to shortened versions of 14 Pixar animated films, which were shown on two 8-by-14 foot screens hung high above the orchestra.

Nine of those films had won Academy Awards for Best Animated Film. Two were nominated for Best Picture: “Up” and “Toy Story 3.”

Fouad Fakhouri, WFSO conductor and music director, faced his musical score, a smaller video screen showing the Pixar films and his musicians (in that order) to bring together the flowing, dynamic and eclectic music with the colorful and often striking moving images.

Whether audience members knew the movies or not, and most kids and their younger parents clearly did, the visual sections were smartly edited to convey the story or an important part of the storyline.  

“Toy Story” was very playful and whimsical with an appropriate sense of awe when things “got real.” The live music did more than simply track visual movement, it gave the montage of colorful images a life-like sense of drama.

The curated sounds of live musical instruments performing in the auditorium were that powerful.

From time to time, Fakhouri turned to the audience and very helpfully asked them to listen to a particular instrument, such as the English horn as it related to the lead character in Thomas Newman’s piece for “Wall-E.”

 Before playing Giacchino’s “Up,” the conductor spoke about how music sets the mood. Immediately upon saying that, a child began loudly crying, and he replied, “I promise it’s not that bad.”

That said, there were very few dry eyes after the bittersweet ending of the beautiful “Up.”

At the beginning of the second act, the conductor pointed to the next symphony season when he mentioned the James Bond-like musical similarities of Giacchino’s “The Incredibles” and “Cars 2” and then said the January 26, 2019 “WFSO does Hollywood” program will include Bond music.

Newman’s “Monsters, Inc.” featured someone brilliantly wailing on a saxophone, with a stylish jazz feel throughout.

The program finished strongly with the touching “Toy Story 3” (Newman); the adventurous, dramatic and intense “Brave” (which the music seamlessly fused with to bring to life); and a smartly fitting finale, “Monster’s University” (Newman).

Following a standing ovation by the crowd, which featured a refreshing number of children in attendance, the orchestra played an encore to a montage of Pixar films.

It was a memorable season-ending performance on a night when the Cirque Italia and Cowboy True were playing not far from around the corner.

The WFSO released its schedule for its 2018-19 season in the program.

 

 
 

Richard Carter, For the Times Record News

Published 12:37 a.m. CT Jan. 5, 2018

If you go:

What: Gypsy Cattle Drive

Where: Akin Auditorium, Midwestern State University, 3411 Taft Boulevard

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday Jan 9

Admission: Free, no reservations.

Information: (940) 723-6202

The Gypsy Cattle Drive is coming through Akin Auditorium in Midwestern State University at 7 p.m. Tuesday Jan. 9.

The five-piece Gypsy Cattle Drive group plays an eclectic selection of music, according to area member David Holcomb, the primarily Dallas-based ensemble’s violin and mandolin player.

The free concert is open to the public and is part of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra Education Program, made possible by a grant from the Priddy Foundation.

It’s the third year for the concert, which also features an afternoon clinic/workshop for WFISD junior high and high school orchestra students along with high school choirs.

Gypsy Cattle Drive features Coleman Smith on violin, Ginny Mac on accordion, Glenn McLaughlin on guitar, Drew Phelps on bass and Holcomb. Each of the members sing.

The group will perform a movement of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto, and selections from the gypsy jazz, western swing, blues and bluegrass genres.

“We’re called Gypsy Cattle Drive because we’re not one certain genre of music,” said Holcomb. “It’s quite a big variety that we’re going to try and do. Regardless of what kind of music people attending the concert favor, they will come away liking something because it’s such a varied program.”

The group previously came to Wichita Falls in 2015 to play for eight WFISD elementary schools and then the remaining schools in 2016. That same year they performed a Sunday afternoon children’s concert at the Forum.

 “Most of us have a classical background,” he said, “and most of us started playing in grade school. The emphasis we will put on the workshop is to show the kids that after they graduate from high school that they can continue do their music.”

McLaughlin and Phelps studied at University of North Texas, and both stay quite busy performing in the Metroplex, Holcomb said.

Smith, who founded the band, performs around the world and recently did a six country tour of Europe. Mac is proficient on piano and accordion and sings “everything from Western Swing to Broadway classics to whatever,” he said.

Holcomb taught school in Wichita Falls for 35 years, plays in Prairie Moon and has performed around the southern half of the country.

The group also plays in various configurations including trios and quartets, “depending on the venue and our availability of the musicians,” he said. “Everybody works professionally and stays busy. They booked us way in advance,” he laughed.

 
 

by Richard Carter

For the Times Record NewsPublished 12:46 a.m. CT Dec. 8, 2017

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If you go:

What: Canadian Brass with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra

Where: Memorial Auditorium, 7th and Broad Street

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16

Admission: Adults $ 30 to $40; Senior and Military $25 and Students $10.

Information: wfso.org and (940) 723-6202

 

The world famous Canadian Brass are returning to Wichita Falls to perform a very special Christmas program with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra.    

The quintet is famous for not their amazing musicianship, said Wayne Bennett, longtime WFSO trumpet player, but the five brass players are also extremely entertaining. The have released 130 albums worldwide and added some 600 works and arrangements to the repertoire.  

“Christmas with the Canadian Brass” will begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at Memorial Auditorium. WFSO conductor Fouad Fakhouri will be joined by the quintet when he delivers his informal pre-concert talk beginning at 6:45 p.m.

The brass group features the original tuba player and leader Chuck Daellenbach, Caleb Hudson and Christopher Coletti on trumpets, Achilles Liarmakopoulos on trombone and Bernhard Scully on horn.

 

“It will be Christmas holiday music,” said Fakhouri, “all the favorites. The arrangements of holiday and Christmas music were written for the Canadian Brass with orchestral accompaniment.

“They are exceptionally gifted and have been doing it for a very long time (47 years). They are very good at making the music accessible to audiences, while they perform at a very high level.”

It will be the conductor’s first time to work with the quintet, but he has long been aware of them. “I first heard of them when I was in high school in 1990. I had gotten a CD of them and I loved it. I wore out the CD listening to it,” he said with a laugh.

 

Unlike the group’s previous appearance in Wichita Falls when they played half of the concert, they will perform on all of the material this time around with the exception of “Polar Express” and “Sleigh Ride.”

The concert will feature holiday pieces such as “White Christmas” and “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” standards such as “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and even well-known rock tunes like “Penny Lane” by the Beatles.

“Their mission is to make symphonic music appealing and accessible to people,” the conductor said. “They will actually encourage people to take photos, no flash. They want people to engage with the music.”

Violinist Aspen Fisher, the Wichita Falls Symphony League scholarship winner will perform on Charles Auguste de Beriot’s “Air Varie No. 1, Op. 1.”

Fakhouri may perhaps be most looking forward to performing “Carmen” (Bizet). “It’s 16 minutes, and they perform the highlights from the opera as a medley. There is a Youtube.com video, where they act it out. It’s very funny. The various members play characters, and I hope they do it at our concert,” he said.

Bennett said that the quintet changed how brass quintets played. “Normally, it’s five guys sitting in a semi-circle playing classical music. They wear Converses with their tuxedos and do commentary between the songs. They even will stand up and walk around the stage.”

It will be funny and lighthearted, the conductor said, along with a level of artistry that is exceptional. “They are some of the best brass players in the world.”

 
 

WichitaPublished 12:47 a.m. CT Oct. 21, 2017

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The 70th anniversary season opening concert of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra featured maestro Foaud Fakhouri in his new position as the organization’s music director. This concert was an exciting debut, both for Fakhouri and for the WFSO season.

The orchestra had previously been led by Candler Schaffer for the past two decades, so it was probably appropriate that this concert with maestro Fakhouri was announced as “New Beginnings.” Those who follow the programming and concerts of the WFSO were aware of the high expectations that accompanied the appointment of the new music director, and maestro Fakhouri did not disappoint those who attended his maiden concert.

For starters, it was gratifying to see the size of the audience at Memorial Auditorium, which filled almost every seat of the first floor. Judging by the energy and the connection created in the concert between the orchestra and the audience, the direction of maestro Fakhouri promises to be exactly as announced, a “new beginning” for the orchestra and the public of Wichita Falls.

 

The program opened with Mozart’s Overture to the Marriage of Figaro, a standard repertoire piece that set up the festive and rejoicing mood for the rest of the concert.  Memorial Auditorium’s less than perfect acoustical conditions were met by an enlarged orchestra, helping the audience to enjoy a more vibrant sound than is customary.

The remaining three pieces in the program, Marquez’s Danzon No. 2, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, and Brahms’ First Symphony, are often used by orchestras as ending pieces, both because of their difficulty and by the impact they create on audiences. Thus, the program proved to be a tour de force for the orchestra, and a delight for those who attended.

 

Danzon No. 2 was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise standard repertoire concert.  Filled with syncopation, meter changes, and exciting rhythms, the orchestra’s rendition of this piece lacked nothing in terms of excitement. The Cuban-filled rhythms in the piece were met with a mastery of precision and enjoyment. 

To close the first half of the program, Stravinsky’s masterpiece was brought alive by the orchestra in its entire splendor of colors and delicacies. The listeners almost forgot the strong technical demands of the piece. Instead, the orchestra switched the attention to the evocative textures and vibrant moments of the six-movement suite.

Brahms’ First Symphony is a challenging work for any orchestra.  After all, it is arguably the most important symphony written in the nineteenth century following Beethoven’s symphonic legacy. Maestro Fakhouri connected all four movements of the work in a way that Brahms’ aesthetic message was well delivered to the audience: a rendition filled with beautiful lyrical and climactic moments.  

A good addition to the concerts is the preview conversations with the conductor before the concert. The audience is able to engage and ask questions, expanding the opportunity for enjoyment. The new video created for the 70th anniversary of the orchestra, which was shown right before the concert, also deserves special mention – it is both informative and of great visual quality.   

Martin Camacho is Dean of the Fain College of Fine Arts and Associate Professor of Music at Midwestern State University.