Author Archives: Mounir Salhi

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April 30, 2022, 7:30 pm – Memorial Auditorium

 

The WFSO once again will welcome the brilliant Italian pianist, Alessio Bax, for a powerful ending to the 74th concert season.  Tchaikovsky’s “Little Russian” will delight with its intense harmonic colors and flowing beauty.  The climax of the evening will be experienced as Alessio Bax brings his musical sensitivity and smooth touch to the intensely romantic Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1.  Don’t miss this memorable season finale! 

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Little Russian”

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in d, Op 15

Guest Artist: Alessio Bax

 

 

Alessio Bax, piano

Combining exceptional lyricism and insight with consummate technique, Alessio Bax is without a doubt “among the most remarkable young pianists now before the public” (Gramophone). He catapulted to prominence with First Prize wins at both the Leeds and Hamamatsu International Piano Competitions, and is now a familiar face on five continents, not only as a recitalist and chamber musician, but also as a concerto soloist who has appeared with more than 150 orchestras, including the London, Royal, and St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestras, the Boston, Dallas, Cincinnati, Sydney, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras, and the NHK Symphony in Japan, collaborating with such eminent conductors as Marin Alsop, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Simon Rattle, Yuri Temirkanov, and Jaap van Zweden.

Bax constantly explores many facets of his career. He released his eleventh Signum Classics album, Italian Inspirations, whose program was also the vehicle for his solo recital debut at New York’s 92nd Street Y as well as on tour. Bax and his regular piano duo partner, Lucille Chung, gave recitals at New York’s Lincoln Center and were featured with the St. Louis Symphony and Stéphane Denève. He has also presented the complete works of Beethoven for cello and piano with cellist Paul Watkins in New York City. This summer is highlighted by his fifth season as Artistic Director of Tuscany’s Incontri in Terra di Siena festival as well as return appearances at the Seattle Chamber Music Festival and at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival with the Dallas Symphony and Fabio Luisi conducting.

Bax revisited Mozart’s K. 491 and K. 595 concertos, as heard on Alessio Bax Plays Mozart, for his recent debuts with the Boston and Melbourne Symphonies, both with Sir Andrew Davis, and with the Sydney Symphony, which he led himself from the keyboard. Recent seasons also saw Bax make his solo recital debut at London’s Wigmore Hall, which aired live on BBC Radio 3, and give concerts at L.A.’s Disney Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, and New York’s Carnegie Hall. 

At age 14, Bax graduated with top honors from the conservatory of Bari, his hometown in Italy, and after further studies in Europe, he moved to the United States in 1994. A Steinway artist, he lives in New York City with pianist Lucille Chung and their daughter, Mila. He was invited to join the piano faculty of Boston’s New England Conservatory in the fall of 2019.

 
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February 26, 2022, 7:30 pm – Memorial Auditorium

 

Join us for an inspiring celebration of the vast diversity and creativity that makes us who we are.  From the sights and sounds of Mexico to the basic elements of jazz and blues and our Wild West roots, the music on this program exemplifies the very essence of America.  Nicholas Bardonnay of Westwater Arts will join the WFSO for this special concert, presenting three dazzling photographic presentations: Mágico, Rodeo!, and a newly commissioned series featuring Wichitan Frank Yeager’s work, which will accompany Dvořák’s Largo from his famous Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.”

Bernstein: Overture to Candide 

William Grant Still: Symphony No. 1 (Afro-American Symphony)

Moncayo: Huapango 

Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 in E minor: II. Largo 

Copland: Rodeo – Four Dance Episodes 

Guest Artist: Nicholas Bardonnay, of Westwater Arts 

 

 

Nicholas Bardonnay, photographer & multimedia artist

Nicholas Bardonnay is a photographer, multimedia artist, and the Creative Director & CEO of Westwater Arts.

Founded in 1973, Westwater Arts has created multimedia experiences for more than one million classical music lovers. To date, over 195 U.S. and international orchestras have programmed their groundbreaking art form: symphonic photochoreography. Westwater Arts' visual repertoire is set to music by Dvořák, Mahler, Copland, Shostakovich and 22 other renowned composers.

Since joining Westwater Arts in 2009, Nicholas has photographed, produced, and performed over a dozen photochoreography pieces. Some recent projects have taken him to many of our beautiful national parks, Iceland, Mexico and the Czech Republic. His creative process begins with either a visual concept or a musical work, then he pairs one with the other. During concerts, Nicholas uses multiple digital projectors to fill a large panoramic screen with hundreds of tightly choreographed image transitions, which he live-cues from memory. He has worked on more than 120 concerts with orchestras in cities across the U.S. as well as Scotland, England, Singapore, Canada, Poland and Germany. When Nicholas is not traveling for concerts or photographing new “visual concertos,” you can usually find him on the road in his vintage Airstream or planning his next big bike adventure.

For this special concert with the WFSO, Nicholas is presenting three visuals concertos: Mágico, Rodeo!, and a newly commissioned piece featuring the photography of Wichita Falls’s own, Frank Yeager.

Mágico is choreographed to Moncayo’s Huapango—his most beloved work. The piece celebrates the beautiful diversity, warmth and cultural richness of our neighbor to the south, Mexico—both in music and images.

Transporting us to a place both familiar, and yet, one-of-a-kind, is the new WFSO commission exploring the grandeur of Yellowstone. This experience combines the timeless Largo movement from Dvořák’s New World Symphony with Frank Yeager’s wonderful photography spanning his many years documenting the special landscapes, plants and animals of America’s first national park.

Finally, closing out the concert is Rodeo!, which is set to Copland’s synonymous work. The piece portrays the excitement of a lively small-town rodeo from behind the scenes, with a backdrop of sweeping western landscapes and centuries of ranching heritage in the American West.

Learn more about Nicholas and his collaborative art form at WestwaterArts.com.

 
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January 22, 2022, 7:30 pm – Akin Auditorium

 

Experience a truly Classical Extravaganza with music from the period that is set apart for its elegance, balance and simplicity.  This special concert will be held in the intimate and beautiful Akin Auditorium and will be followed by a reception for our guests.  The Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto will feature WFSO’s principal flutist, Dr. Pam Youngblood, and harpist Dr. Jaymee Haefner, who will perform the joyous and melodic work.  The musical selections travel a broad arc, from Haydn’s vibrant yet serious Overture to an English Opera to Schubert’s dramatic and tragic Fourth Symphony.

*This event is separate from the subscription season and is not included in the purchase of regular season tickets.  Discounted pricing is available with season ticket purchase.

Haydn: Overture for an English Opera

Mozart: Flute and Harp Concerto in C major

Schubert: Symphony 4 in C minor (Tragic)

Guest Artists: Dr. Pam Youngblood, flute

Dr. Jaymee Haefner, harp

 

 

Dr. Pamela Youngblood, flute

Pamela Youngblood, DMA, Chair of the Department of Music and Theatre and Co-Coordinator for the School of Arts, teaches graduate and undergraduate flute students, flute pedagogy, flute choir, and a course on women in music.

Youngblood has been principal flutist and a featured soloist of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra since 1980, and was soloist in a performance of David Amram’s new concerto Giants of the Night in 2004 with the composer conducting. She also recently performed the Lowell Liebermann Flute Concerto with the WFSO.  An active recitalist, she has been a featured performer at conventions of the National Flute Association in Anaheim, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Charlotte, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and San Diego, the Texas Music Educators Association, and the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors. 

Her first CD, Wind Song: New American Classics for Flute and Piano, was recorded with TWU collaborative artist Gabriel Bita  and released on the Azica Records label in May 2010.  Her second CD Sparkle and Wit: International Treasures for Flute and Piano was released on the Azica label in 2012.  She has performed internationally in Germany, Spain, Poland, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, England, Scotland, and the Czech Republic as a member of the Metropolitan Flute Orchestra, based at the New England Conservatory, and the International Flute Orchestra. 

Youngblood recently received national recognition as the Phi Kappa Phi Artist for 2016-2018.  In October of 2013, she was awarded an honorary doctorate, Doctor of Music, honoris causa, by Nashotah House Seminary, Wisconsin. In November of 2014, she was granted the title of Lay Canon for the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, an honor bestowed in recognition for several decades of dedicated work in church music.  She also received the Advocacy for Music Therapy Award, presented by the Texas State Task Force of the Southwest Region of the American Music Therapy Association, in the spring of 2014.

 

Dr. Jaymee Haefner, harp

Jaymee Haefner’s performances have been described by Daniel Buckley as possessing “an air of dreamy lyricism… interlocking melody lines with the deftness of a dancer’s footwork.” Jaymee joined the University of North Texas College of Music faculty in 2006 and serves as Assistant Professor of Harp and Director of Undergraduate Studies. Her performances include a feature at the 50th Anniversary American Harp Society (AHS) National Conference in New York City, the 2014 AHS National Conference in New Orleans, and performances throughout the Dallas–Fort Worth area, in Mexico, the Czech Republic and Russia. She published The Legend of Henriette Renié and One Stone to the Building: Henriette Renié’s Life Through Her Works for Harp and has presented lectures for the World Harp Congress (WHC) in Sydney and Amsterdam. Jaymee was Chairman of the 2011 AHS Institute and serves as the Treasurer for the WHC. Dr. Haefner obtained her BM and MM degrees from the University of Arizona and her DM degree from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.  When she isn’t on stage, Dr. Haefner trains in American Karate with her son, and recently obtained her first-degree black belt.

“A Classical Extravaganza”

Program Notes

January 22, 2022

Todd Giles

“O Mozart, immortal Mozart! what numberless consoling images of a better, brighter world have you engraved upon our souls?”

Franz Schubert

Franz Joseph Haydn: Overture for an English Opera in C Major, Hob. 1a-3 (1791)

It was nearly the opera that never was—Haydn’s The Soul of the Philosopher, or Orpheus and Eurydice. It was also his last opera, composed when he was 58 years old. Haydn’s longtime patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy, died in 1790, freeing up time for Haydn to finally accept the invitation to visit London, where his work had already been performed and praised for many years. Indeed, the London press referred to him as a “modern-day Orpheus.” His trip was based on an agreement to write six new symphonies and one opera, the latter for John Gallini, the owner of a new opera house then under construction. While there, he composed some of his best-known work, including the Surprise, Drumroll, Military and London symphonies. His operatic version of the ancient Greek tale of Orpheus was not performed as planned in London in 1791, nor any subsequent year during his lifetime. In fact, it remained unperformed until its premiere in 1951 in Florence, Italy. It was another four years before it was finally heard by Londoners. Why the 160 year wait? Politics. King George III and his son, the Prince of Wales, each backed rival opera houses. Suffice it to say that royal egos trumped the music and London lost out. That said, the overture of the opera itself was heard as a stand-alone work in 1795 at the Theatre Royal as part of a grand courtly masque in celebration of the marriage of the Prince of Wales to the Princess of Brunswick. The Overture to an English Opera, as it became known, was written in what would become the standard overture form consisting of a slow introduction leading to a faster main section. This brief performance perhaps provided some consolation to Haydn, who had been enamored with the tale of Orpheus since he conducted Gluck’s opera Orfeo de Euridice at Eszterháza fifteen years earlier. 

Mozart: Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in C Major, K. 299 (1778) 

Although Mozart was not a big fan of the flute (having written only three concertos for the instrument), the Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra has since become one of the most popular double concertos in the repertoire. Written in the spring of 1778 during an extended stay in Paris as a commission for a wealthy patron and his daughter, this unusual concerto likewise brings to the foreground an instrument that was not yet taken seriously as an orchestral family member at the time—the harp, or “plucked piano.” Considering Mozart wrote no other works for the harp, we can assume his taste for the instrument was even less favorable than that of the flute. Although certainly a tenuous paring in Mozart’s day, the flute-harp repertoire grew quite rapidly in the 19th century, especially for unaccompanied duo. Mozart not only had his patrons in mind when penning the score, he also had contemporary French tastes in mind as well, as seen in the concerto’s similarity to the popular sinfonia concertante of the time, which combined both the concerto and symphony genres by having one or more solo instruments in conversation with and a part of the orchestra. Today, the concerto is often performed by chamber ensembles as a way to highlight their own flutists and harpists, as is the case tonight as we feature WFSO regulars Pam Youngblood and Jaymee Haefner.  

Franz Schubert: Symphony 4 in C minor, D. 417 (“Tragic”) (1816) 

Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was the only Classical Viennese composer actually born and raised in Vienna—Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn all settled in the Austrian capital city. Regarded as the greatest art song composer, Schubert was the last in line of the Frist Viennese School composers, while at the same one of the first Romantic ones. Unlike Mozart and Beethoven, he was neither a child prodigy nor a great virtuoso, but he was prolific, leaving over 600 songs for solo voice and piano, eight symphonies, and a large body or chamber works by his untimely death at the age of 31 of syphilis. At 11, having passed an audition with Mozart’s nemesis, Antonio Salieri, young Franz entered the Imperial Court Chapel as a choirboy. As a burgeoning composer, he was more influenced by the work of Haydn and Mozart than that of his closer contemporary, Beethoven, whose symphonies were just beginning to hit their stride. Schubert’s life exemplified that of the neglected Romantic genius who died poor and in all but obscurity. Mozart too had a tough time of it, but at least he had some success during his lifetime; it would require the passing of a full generation before Schubert’s genius would be fully recognized. Like most of Schubert’s orchestral work, the Symphony No. 4 in C Minor was not performed publically for at least two decades after the his death, premiering in Leipzig, Germany in 1849. Composed in 1816, when he was just 19 years old, the self-dubbed “Tragic” symphony was his most serious symphony to date, though the subtitle falls a little flat when one listens to the work. If anything, it calls to mind the Strum und Drang symphonies of Haydn and other composers of the era, not the personal anguish of, say, Beethoven’s later work. The long first movement opens with a slow introduction (Adagio molto) reminiscent of Haydn, before becoming faster and more lively (Allegro vivace), and thus more suggestive of the influence of Mozart. The lovely second movement, marked Andante, is introduced slowly by the strings and then joined by a lone oboe, after which enter the other woodwinds. The calm beauty of the movement is interrupted twice by brief passages of considerable agitation (a hint of the “tragic”?), but soon returns to the gentle lyricism and the first thematic material before moving into the third movement, a Minuet. The closing Allegro returns us to the mood of the opening movement, ending on anything but a tragic note. Perhaps, when we are 19, nearly everything can be deemed tragic in one way or another. Listen the Symphony No. 4 and decide for yourself. 

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December 11, 2021, 7:30 pm – Memorial Auditorium

The very best of the holiday season will be yours when you attend the Hometown Holiday Celebration with the WFSO.  Music Director Fouad Fakhouri invites you to bring the entire family to enjoy your festive favorites. The Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra will share the stage with us in a classic celebration of community, family, and friends. 

Guest Artist: Jim Hall

Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Matthew Luttrell, Music Director

 

Jim Hall, vocalist

Jim Hall, who currently works as the Chief Information Security Officer for Midwestern State University, has a long-time love of singing and performing.  Jim headlines a show titled “Jim Hall and Friends” at the Wichita Theatre Stage 2 Dinner Theatre throughout the year and finds that, outside of his family, music is one of life’s greatest joys.  He has appeared on the Wichita Theatre main stage in roles such as Dom Claude Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Walter Hobbs in Elf the Musical, Joseph Pulitzer in Newsies, George Banks in Mary Poppins the Musical, Frank Kell and J.D. McMahon in North Texas Rising, Old Deuteronomy in Cats, Curtis in Sister Act, King Triton in The Little Mermaid, George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, the Marquis St. Evremond in A Tale of Two Cities, Kerchak the gorilla in Tarzan the Musical and Shrek in the Texoma debut of Shrek the Musical.

 

Dr. Matthew D. Luttrell, Music Director and Conductor of Wichita  Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra

Dr. Matthew D. Luttrell, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Bands and Orchestra, joined the faculty of MSU Texas in 2013.  His duties include conducting the Wind Ensemble, Communiversity Orchestra, Marching Band, and Advanced Conducting. In addition to his duties at MSU Texas, Dr. Luttrell is the conductor of the Wichita Falls Youth Philharmonic and serves as the 2nd trombone of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Luttrell earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Arizona StateUniversity (2010) with an emphasis in wind conducting under Gary Hill and euphonium performance under the instruction of Sam Pilafian. He holds a Masters of Music Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2002) and the Bachelors of Music Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder (1998).

Prior to Midwestern State University, Dr. Luttrell served as Director of Bands at Adams State University, Associate Director of Bands at the University of Texas Arlington, and as Assistant Director of Bands at Illinois State University. He is an active conductor, clinician, and adjudicator for orchestras, bands, and athletic bands, and his international conducting experience includes Canada, Mexico, and Cuba. His ensembles have consistently received invitations to perform in regional concert performances, as well as NFL season and post-season games.

Dr. Luttrell’s professional affiliations include College Band Directors National Association, Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Bandmasters Association, World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, the National Association for Music Education, and is an honorary member of both the Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi honorary bands fraternities.

 
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November 13, 2021, 7:30 pm – Memorial Auditorium

The WFSO’s 74th Season Opener celebrates the true spirit of the people who live in our great state with a “Tribute to Texas,” an exclusive live concert tour celebrating the 50th anniversary season of Texas Country Reporter.  Bob and Kelli Phillips will host your favorite Texas tunes and guide you through an evening of history, humor, and culture.  You will have the opportunity to meet Bob and Kelli “up close and personal” at a special event on Friday evening.  

More information coming soon!

Guest Artists: Bob and Kelli Phillips

 

“A Texas Tribute” is an exclusive, live concert tour coinciding with the 50th anniversary season of Texas Country Reporter (2021-2022). Full of Texas tunes and featuring live narration by Bob & Kelli Phillips. Every week Kelli & Bob travel the backroads of Texas searching for the hidden gems that make the Lone Star State so unique. From artists and cafés to musicians and attractions, Texas Country Reporter tells the stories of everyday Texans doing extraordinary things. Airing since 1972, TCR is now the longest running independently produced TV show in the country.