Richard Carter, Special to the Times Record News Published 11:27 a.m. CT June 2, 2017
Members of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra are shedding their formal black attire for a brassy lakeside diversion.
Wichita Falls Symphony Brass will perform about 90 minutes of brass quintet music as part of the Live at the Lake series of concerts 6:30 p.m. June 8 at the Priddy Pavilion on the grounds of the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University.
The ensemble will dole out big band, pop and patriotic music, said longtime symphony trumpet player Wayne Bennett.
After its first set, a group of strings players from the Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra, led by Gina Menden, will play from 20 to 30 minutes so the brass group can take a breath without a break in music.
“We will play popular music, including Disney,” Menden said.
This is the symphony’s third Live at the Lake foray.
An orchestra string quartet played in May 2015 for the opening of the Priddy Pavilion. The following year, a string quintet helmed movie themes and patriotic music with members of Backdoor Theatre’s Summer Youth Musical at a special Saturday Live at the Lake.
“This year, we’re playing with the brass. It’s louder than strings,” Bennett said with a laugh.
It will again be popular music, such as “In the Mood,” the Beatles’ “When I’m 64,” and “America the Beautiful” and a salute to the Armed Forces.
“We may throw in some marches.”
Bennett is no stranger to marches, having been an Army Reserve commander and bandmaster of the 95th Division Army band for 38 years, while also in charge of orchestra at Hirschi High School and then band and orchestra at Rider High for 15 years.
His group will play brass quintet music but is adding an extra trumpet and a drummer. Bennett said the music simply sounds better with a trap drummer, and the third trumpet is for relief.
The trumpet players include Joshua Ritchie, assistant band director at Wichita Falls High School; Andrew Checki, brass coach for the youth symphony and a teacher at Barwise Middle School; and Bennett.
Terah Shawver, the band director for City View High School, will play French horn, and symphony member Jason Lewis will play trombone. Nick Beltchev, a Wichitan and former symphony guest artist, will be on tuba. Finally, symphony member Denny Jones will tackle the drums.
Symphony members say they enjoy performing outside of their normal symphony realm.
“We don’t think that we’re out in the public enough. We can’t afford to have the whole symphony come out and play. It’s just real expensive. We’re hoping to develop more small groups that can go out and play different places in the future. Live at the Lake is a good one. Maybe we could show up at a coffee shop or at a farmers market. We want people to think of the symphony more often.”
Quiet Heroes – Salute to the Armed Forces with special guest narrator, Wilford Brimley.
November 11, 2017 at Memorial Auditorium, 1300 7th Street, Wichita Falls, TX
Gould: American Salute
Williams: Liberty Fanfare
Jager: Esprit de Corps
Williams: Midway March
Brubeck: Quiet Heroes: A Symphonic Salute to the Flagraisers at Iwo Jima
Lowden: Armed Forces Salute
October 14, 2017~ New Beginnings with Fouad Fakhouri
Memorial Auditorium, 7:30 pm, 1300 7th, Wichita Falls, TX
Mozart: Overture from Le nozze di Figaro
Marquez: Danzon No. 2
Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite
Brahms: Symphony No. 1
Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra
Veterans Day Concert with the WFSO
Canadian Brass with the WFSO
Dr. Martin Camacho, piano with the WFSO
Pixar in Concert with the WFSO
Wichita Falls, Texas (March 28, 2017) – The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra (WFSO) has named Fouad Fakhouri as its next Music Director and Conductor effective June 1, 2017. The Search Committee chose Fakhouri after an 18-month-long international search.
Maestro Fakhouri will take the podium on Saturday, October 14, 2017, as the orchestra opens its 70th season. “For me this is similar to a homecoming. Having spent a significant amount of time in Texas, it is wonderful to get back and contribute to the state that I practically grew up in,” said Fakhouri, who was educated at West Texas A&M University and the University of North Texas. “I felt a genuine, almost immediate, connection with the musicians and was thrilled by their high level of professionalism, commitment, and dedication to the art of music making,” said Fakhouri of his work with the WFSO in February.
With over two decades of international credits as a conductor and composer, Fouad Fakhouri is committed to actively engaging with audiences through powerful artistic experiences. Known for his “musical accuracy” and “emotional intensity,” his performances have been celebrated for their broad, dynamic and powerful interpretations, which go beyond the score to capture both the essence and spirit of the music.
Kristen Van Cleve, WFSO Concertmaster, said, “I am thrilled that Fouad Fakhouri has agreed to be the next Music Director of the Wichita Falls Symphony. Maestro Fakhouri demonstrated skill, musicianship and understanding of the art of conducting when he led the symphony in February. I am looking forward with great anticipation to working with him during the 2017/18 season – this is an exciting time for the WFSO!”
In June 2016, Fakhouri was named Music Director of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra (Michigan). From 2004 – 2016 Fakhouri served as Music Director and Conductor of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra (North Carolina). Previous appointments include Principal Guest Conductor of the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra (North Carolina) as well as Music Director and Conductor of the Greensboro Symphony Youth Orchestra where he led the orchestra on its first international tour to Austria and Germany. He continues to be in high demand as a guest conductor. Among his many recent appearances are the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra (Lebanon), Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (New York), Cairo Symphony Orchestra (Egypt) and the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra (Sophia, Bulgaria).
In addition to conducting, Fakhouri is an active composer of a multitude of symphonic, chamber, choral and solo music. His works have been premiered and performed by the English Chamber Orchestra (UK), the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra, the Mediterranean Orchestra (Italy) and the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra to name a few.
Fakhouri hails from a musical family whose roots go back four generations. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of North Texas, and a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting, as well as a Master of Music in Composition/Theory from the Pennsylvania State University. He earned his Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition from West Texas A & M University.
In December 2014 in recognition of “his impressive career achievements, phenomenal leadership of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra (FSO), and dedication to music and the community” Methodist University (NC) bestowed upon him an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. In March 2016 he was inducted into the Fayetteville (NC) Music Hall of Fame and in April 2016, upon the completion of a highly successful 11-season tenure with the FSO, individual symphony donors honored him with establishing “The Fouad K. Fakhouri Endowment for Artistic Excellence” – a $1.1 million fund that will “continue his legacy of excellence forever”.
Fakhouri resides in New York City with his wife Diane Lavelle, an advertising executive, and their daughter Isabella.
Gina Menden, originally from Wisconsin, graduated from the University of Arizona with a Master of Music degree in Viola Performance and Drake University with a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance.
With more than 15 years of studio teaching experience, Ms. Menden has helped develop winners of concerto competitions, symphony apprenticeships, and state UIL contestants with gold/silver placements, as well as students who’ve chosen to continue on in college as either music majors or very skilled orchestral players. Beyond these accomplishments, Ms. Menden enjoys guiding her students to be good citizens and to love what they do.
Ms. Menden began working for the Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra (YSO) in February 2010, where she established and still directs the developmental string orchestra (the “Philharmonic”) and a very robust public-outreach string ensemble program. She joined Christ Academy as a string teacher in October 2014 and later assumed a position as Adjunct String Professor at Midwestern State University in August 2015. In addition to her teaching commitments, Ms. Menden enjoys performing as a violist with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra and is an avid musical freelancer.