Author Archives: Alicia Deges

The 2021-2022 season for the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra is underway with the first concert, “Texas Country Reporter: A Texas Tribute,” premiering on November 13 at 7:30pm in Memorial Auditorium. Single admission tickets for individual concerts are on sale now. Single admission tickets can be purchased online at, or by calling the WFSO office at 940-723-6202. Season tickets are still on sale for a discounted price by calling the office. In addition to the discount, season ticket holders can count on their confirmed seats year-to-year, optional reserved parking, and exclusive event invitations throughout the year.

Due to the current number of COVID-19 cases in Wichita County, the WFSO Board of Directors has decided to socially distance the audience seating for the November 13 concert. This distancing will still allow for parties to sit with each other, but the parties will be distanced from one another. There is a 50% maximum capacity for this event. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be sold on concert night.  Patrons are strongly encouraged to wear face masks for the duration of the event.

Corresponding with the November concert, the WFSO will be hosting a “Meet and Greet” with Bob and Kelli Phillips after the concert at 9:30pm at the Kemp Center. A silent auction will be held at this event to help support the WFSO’s return to normal programming. Tickets are $60 per person and are available now by calling the WFSO office.

The WFSO is looking forward to welcoming a live audience for the full season.  For more information about upcoming concerts or to purchase tickets, please visit the website at If you have questions or would like to purchase season tickets, please call the administrative office at 940-723-6202.




by Todd Giles

As I get ready to dive into researching and writing the program notes for the WFSO’s 74th season this summer, I can’t help but pause and ruminate a bit on last year. It’s these thoughts I’d like to share with you, taking a few moments to look back on the 2020-21 season, as well as taking a gander to lays ahead in just a few short months.

The WFSO has weathered many rough patches throughout its long and rich history, but the COVID pandemic has been something entirely different. As we watched the numbers grow on the nightly news over the past year and learned about the economic and educational tolls the disease has had in our communities, one thing we seldom heard about is the financial toll COVID has had on non-profit arts organizations worldwide.  

If there is a positive side to the last season’s challenges, principal timpanist Corey Robinson suggests that “the pandemic has caused many arts organizations to rethink their traditional approaches to performing arts. This has been a very positive move overall towards engaging audiences in different ways that will surely be employed in the post-pandemic resurgence of live events.” Indeed, the WFSO leadership was called upon to not only reconceive the 2020-2021 season, they also had to rethink the various ways in which they meet their outreach mission here in Texoma.

After cancelling the final concert of the 2019-2020 season the April before last, they also decided to delay the start of the 2020-21 season out of safety concerns. With the prospect of potentially having to jettison the entire season, the organization needed to do some quick and creative thinking about how to best continue supporting their seventy-five musicians. Thanks to the generous support of the Texoma Gives Musician’s Relief Fund, which raised over $19,000 with the help of two generous matches from the Perkins Prothro Foundation and an anonymous donor, the WFSO was able to supplement the incomes of three quarters of the orchestra’s musicians throughout the season.

Even with this assistance, though, many dedicated WFSO musicians have been without a steady income since the beginning of the pandemic. According to principal tubist Mark Finley, the pandemic has “devastated many musicians, not just because of a loss of income, but the loss of lifestyle. Musicians have spent their entire adult lives training and practicing to be performers, and without that, I’m not sure many of them know what to do with themselves.” Violinist Susan Younghans knew what she needed to do: “I have had to learn flexibility in my teaching platforms in order to maintain my private teaching income. The online lessons are somewhat effective for most students, but there is nothing like in-person instruction.” Likewise for violinist Tammy Sparks: “I have learned to teach my lessons by Skype, Zoom, and Google Meets. It’s not the same, but my students get to have lessons that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.”   

The Symphony also needed to make major changes in the ways they maintain contact with their patrons and the thousands of area students they serve each year through their educational programming; they did so by going virtual and by going outside. The biggest logistical and creative task of all was recording the January, February and April concerts while following strict safety protocols. Videos of the three concerts, which included music by Beethoven, Mozart, and Emmanuel Séjourné, were professionally produced and made available at a discounted rate online. Throughout the season, the WFSO also offered several free pop-up concerts at venues such as Art and Stroll in downtown Wichita Falls, a “Jazz on the Lawn” concert in collaboration with Sheppard Air Force Base, and a small socially-distanced concert hosted by WFSO musician Barbara Kavanaugh titled “Candlelight Sonatas” in December 2020.

At this point, the plan is to return to normal programming next season, which kicks off with the “Texas Country Reporter” tour in November. This live concert celebrating the longest-running television show in history features Texas tunes, culture and history, as well as live narration by Bob and Kelli Phillips. While the season returns patrons back to both Memorial and Akin auditoriums, the concerts will continue to be recorded for those who aren’t quite ready to return to the live concert experience.

Next season’s Young People’s Concert will return to an in-person event, but will likewise be recorded to broaden the concert’s educational reach to more area school children. With the WFSO’s 75th anniversary coming up in the 2022-23 season, Maestro Fakhouri has decided to focus next season on some of the incredible talent within our local orchestral community, including flutist Pam Youngblood and harpist Jaymee Haefner playing the music of Mozart. The WFSO will also bring back previously scheduled pianist Alessio Bax, as well as perform an original work by Fouad Fakhouri himself.

As fun as researching and writing the 2021-2022 season’s program notes is going to be for me this summer, I approach the task with a renewed appreciation for everything the folks at the WFSO do for our community—not just the concerts, but also the day-to-day things they do to keep the organization viable, pertinent, and exciting. Believe me, it’s no easy task. Alicia, Jenny and the dedicated and tireless board of directors (and the Youth Symphony and the Symphony League) all deserve our support and thanks in whatever ways we can best give it. Thanks, guys; you’re all appreciated!




The WFSO is eagerly awaiting the Saturday, April 17, 2021 concert which will welcome a limited in-person audience to Memorial Auditorium.   The limited number of tickets were offered to season subscribers first and sold out quickly.   


WFSO Audition Process & Procedure:

-Applicants will be assigned audition time at least one (1) week prior to audition, when possible.
-The WFSO auditions will be played before the Audition Committee and Music Director/Conductor.
Preliminary rounds shall be played behind a screen, the committee will be unable to view candidate.
-A screen shall not be required for the semi and/or final rounds of the audition but may be used if the
Audition Committee opts to do so.

To apply, send one-page resume by email to:

Any additional questions may be addressed to Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra Executive
Director, Alicia Deges at or 940-704-1823.



DATE:                     JANUARY 12, 2021




CONTACT:              Alicia Deges, WFSO Executive Director 


The board of directors of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra voted to hold the January 23, 2021 concert without a live audience.  “The safety of our musicians, audience and staff is always going to be our highest priority”, stated Music Director, Fouad Fakhouri. 

While we are very anxious to welcome you back to Memorial Auditorium and live concerts, we feel that a more cautious approach is best at this time when COVID infection rates are once again on the rise. 

A reduced complement of WFSO musicians will gather to perform the concert as planned. However, a live audience will not be present at the January 23 concert.  A professional video will be recorded, produced and made available for on-demand viewing beginning January 30, 2021.  Online access to the concert can be purchased online at, or by calling the WFSO administrative office at 940-723-6202.

Additionally, a “Wine and Music Pairing” program will be offered in conjunction with the concert.  Patrons will have the opportunity to enhance their at-home concert experience by purchasing specially selected wines to accompany the music being performed.  Wine-expert Carl Andrews from Moreson Wineries, will use his skills to pair the perfect wine to complement the concert, offering unique tasting notes for each selection.  Local wineries involved in the project include Horseshoe Bend Cellars, Hook & Ladder Wine Co, 6th Street Winery. OG Cellars, WF Brewing Company, as well as Brie Charcuterie. 

Information about purchasing an On-Demand tickets and the Wine and Music Pairing program can be found on the WFSO website at 


Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra Press Release


November 10, 2020

Subject: The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra Jazz Band Performance on Sheppard AFB

Contact:  Alicia Deges, WFSO Executive Director

               Amanda Peck, WFSO Director of Education & Community Outreach

Phone: 940-723-6202

On Saturday, November 7th, 2020, the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra Jazz Ensemble held a performance titled, “Jazz on the Lawn,” on Sheppard Air Force Base. Twelve musicians performed jazz standards and popular tunes for our military members and their families at the Parade Grounds on the base. The concert was sponsored by the Music Performance Trust Fund in partnership with the American Federation of Musicians in an effort to provide admission-free music in communities.

The concert took place at 4PM, and the audience was scattered across the parade field lawn, with plenty of room to safely distance family groups. The musicians were innovative by using special masks created for playing wind and brass instruments, and distanced during the performance. “The safety of our musicians and our audience is our highest priority,” stated Alicia Deges, WFSO’s Executive Director. “We wanted to create a relaxed atmosphere where people felt comfortable coming out and enjoying some live music.”

The performance was meaningful to WFSO musicians as well, providing the first opportunity to play music together since February. “It was such an incredible feeling to be able to perform together again,” said double-bass player, Amanda Peck. Amanda is also the WFSO’s Director of Education and Community Engagement and was also responsible for coordination efforts surrounding the event. The event was attended by roughly 200 service members and their families.  The concert was also enjoyed by SAFB leadership, including Brigadier General Kenyon Bell, Commander of Sheppard AFB, who attended and expressed his gratitude to the WFSO for providing the concert for the personnel at SAFB.

Sheila Lucas is a native Dallasite, born in the Deep Ellum section of downtown. She received a Bachelor of Music Performance from UNT, and a master’s degree from A&M. For over 30 years Sheila has played coast to coast with ensembles ranging from regional symphonies to rock groups. In 1994, she joined the WFSO and quickly fell in love with the orchestra, the patrons, and the city. An interest in Texas politics led Sheila to becoming a Precinct chair for the Texas Senate, District 2, and also serve as a Dallas County Election Judge.
Fun Facts:
Favorite Wichita Falls restaurant: When in Wichita Falls, I enjoy dining at the Pioneer Restaurant or grabbing a pizza from Marco’s.
Describe your family and/or pets: A rescued Pitbull and two cats
Favorite hobby: In my free time, I enjoy hanging around my home on Lake Ray Hubbard, learning to paddle-board and wind surf, gardening, cooking, playing with my pets. I’m a lifelong motorcycle rider, and currently ride a Yamaha Star 650 custom. So, between the bass, the dog, and my bike, my house can get pretty loud!
Age you started playing your instrument: in the 6th grade
Favorite onstage moment: My favorite onstage moments occur when I can’t tell if it is sweat or tears running down my face.
Favorite piece of music: My musical tastes are quite eclectic, with Glam Rock and electro-dance being my favorites as far as pops goes, and in the orchestra, I like the heavy stuff, so I can ‘bring my thunder’.

Paul Palmer started playing violin in the 5th grade. At the age of 14, he went to a music camp at Midwestern State University where he participated in a master class with Paul Rolland. Mr. Rolland then invited him to attend the National Academy of Arts in Champaign, IL where he studied violin and played viola in the orchestra and in chamber music. After graduation, he attended the University of Illinois for 3 semesters then transferred back to Dallas and completed his studies at SMU. Paul toured Europe with The New York Harlem Theater Ensemble, playing Carmen Jones for 9 months in 11 countries. He has played with The Dallas Opera, the Tulsa Opera, the Utah Festival Opera, the Spoleto Festival/Festival Dei Due Mondi, the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, as well as symphonies in the North Texas area including Amarillo, Shreveport, Waco, Longview, Texarkana, Tyler, Oklahoma City and Lawton, OK among others. He also has a teaching studio of about 50 students in the Plano ISD. When not practicing, Paul enjoys studying foreign languages and playing contract bridge and chess. He is an active member in his church orchestra at the Cathedral of Hope, United Church of Christ.

Fun Facts about Paul

Birthplace:  Dallas, TX, but I grew up in Grand Prairie

Favorite WF restaurant: McBride’s 

Family: Mom, Brother Sister, cousins by the dozens

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?  I plan trips around museums and opera performances.  I want to go to St Petersburg to see the Hermitage

Favorite hobby:  Studying languages; I speak French, German, some Russian, and I’m trying to learn Mandarin Chinese

Age you started playing your instrument: 9

Favorite book: Les Miserables

Favorite movie: 2001, A Space Odyssey

Favorite onstage moment: When I was playing the Spoleto Festival, I participated in a Mass with an envoy from the Vatican.  “O Sacrum Convivium” was beautifully sung a capella, and I still have that close to my heart

Favorite piece of music:  Mozart’s “Marriage of Figero”



John Schertz was a violinist for the WFSO between the years of 1970-1982, where he played among Violinist- Henry Brahinsky and Conductor- William Boyer. He returned to his position in 2005 and has been playing with the WFSO since then under Dr. Candler Schaffer and now Fouad Fakhouri. Mr. Schertz is a graduate of the University of North Texas where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s in violin, and also holds an associates degree in Information Technology from El Centro College in Dallas. John has played with many symphonies in the area including: Fort Worth, Richardson, Sherman, Plano and Tyler. In 2017, John retired from the Dallas Independent School District, where he taught orchestra and violin for 17 years, to later work for BlueCross BlueShield of Texas. Along with performing with the WFSO, John performed around the North Texas area with the Lenny Dawson Orchestra and the Dallas Strolling Strings, where he was a member for 10 years.


Fun Facts about John: 

Favorite WF restaurant: McBrides Steakhouse, both the downtown and the Maplewood establishments
Describe your Family: Two lazy rescue dogs, two adult children, two grandkids (in Boulder Creek, California and Keller,TX), and my 95 year old mom in San Antonio
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Vienna, Austria
Favorite book: The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Favorite movie: The Lord of the Rings (all 3) or Brokeback Mountain.
Favorite onstage moment: There have been so many wonderful musical moments, so many wonderful soloists, but I think I enjoyed playing Toy Story along with the movie due to the great time had by audience and orchestra alike.
Favorite piece of music: Toss-up – Candide, Leonard Bernstein or ANY Mozart symphony — But I also have always loved the Beatles…!

Cellist Julian Schwarz will perform Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto no. 1 with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra  at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are available at

Saturday, February 29th, 2020 at 7:30 PM, the WFSO presented their concert titled “Russian Masterpieces,” featuring Seattle native Julian Schwarz performing Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 107 (1956).  The performance was extremely successful, and the WFSO is honored to have featured such a phenomenal musician. 

Growing up in Seattle, Julian Schwarz grew up in a family where classical music was the family business.

His mother’s family was rich in musicians with relatives playing in symphonies across the country, as was as his father Gerard who served as conductor of the Seattle Symphony.         

Schwarz and his siblings began playing piano at 4, “to get a basis in counterpoint and harmony and clef reading,” he said. “After a year or so, we could switch to another instrument.

“I wanted to play double bass but my brother had taken it, so I started playing cello at age 6. I wasn’t that serious then. By the time I was 10, I was on my way.”

The cellist has his bachelor’s and master’s from Julliard and teaches at Shenandoah University in Virginia. He also performs with his fiancée pianist Marika Bournaki In New York City as well as the Frisson Ensemble (a mixed nonet of winds and strings), and the Mile-End Trio with a violinist and Bournaki. 

For more information on Julian Schwarz, please visit the article below!