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.


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!



We are excited to announce the Grand Opening of our new Wichita Falls Symphony Store!



Available exclusively online, our Store will feature merchandise for all types of music lovers, including classical, opera, jazz—and even guitar enthusiasts. Each department has been curated with different price points and artisan-focused finds.

Some of our favorite Symphony Store finds include:

Piano Wire Necklace

Guitar String Bracelet

Violin Bottle Opener

Concerto Violin Mug

Bach Lapel Pin 


“The new Store has been designed to appeal to all types of music lovers,” said Alicia Deges, Executive Director. “We hope that our audiences will discover unique finds not only for themselves but as thoughtful gifts for family and friends,” she continued.

Store items may be shipped anywhere throughout North America; we will offer free shipping on orders totaling $50 or more.

Let the shopping begin! Click here to explore your new Wichita Falls Symphony Store.



For any arts organization to survive for 73 years, much less thrive that long, is quite an accomplishment. That’s exactly what the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra has done this year as it inches closer to achieving the impressive landmark of serving our community for three-quarters of a century. Alicia Deges, the new Executive Director, says “it’s exciting to see how the WFSO is reaching beyond our incredible performances to now also focus on quality educational and community outreach events that touch people from all walks of life.”

The 2019-2020 season, dubbed “Inside Symphonic Music,” opened on September 21st with internationally recognized pianist Joyce Yang performing Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 3.” According to Maestro Fakhouri, “Working with Joyce Yang was an extremely rewarding experience for all involved. She is a very gifted pianist who is also a wonderful collaborator.”

The second concert of the season continues with the music of Beethoven, whose 250th birthday will be celebrated worldwide in December. Texomans will also have the opportunity to hear a lesser-played symphony by Mozart, as well as the overture to “The Barber of Seville,” a comic opera by Gioachino Rossini about the amorous young Count Almaviva’s attempts to win the hand of the beautiful Rosina.

The second work on the program Mozart’s “Symphony No. 25 in G minor,” written in 1773. “To think that this dramatic symphony was penned by a 17-year old is almost mind-boggling,” says Fakhouri. “Mozart is certainly one of history’s best operatic composers and his symphonies, in my opinion, are just as dramatic and powerful as his operas. It is not a coincidence that Czech director Miloš Forman used the first movement of this symphony as the opening music to his movie ‘Amadeus.’”

The featured work in this concert is Beethoven’s “7th Symphony,” which marks a radical break with the stylistic conventions of the Classical period, while at the same time pointing to the Romantic movement to come. Fakhouri chose the three composers on this program because there are some interesting ties between them. Early in his career, Beethoven worked hard to break free from the overpowering shadow of Mozart, and in turn, at the end of his career, his music, which had gotten very heavy and complex, was challenged by the much lighter, more melodic music of Rossini.

The “7th Symphony” premiered three years before Rossini’s opera in 1813 at a charity concert for wounded soldiers in Vienna. As Fakhouri explains it, “the rhythmic vitality and innovation in Beethoven’s 7th is revolutionary because it uses incessant rhythmic figures as the glue that propels the entire piece. No wonder Wagner described this symphony as the ‘The Apotheosis of Dance.’”

December marks the second major film-and-music concert performed by the WFSO with “Home Alone in Concert” on the 14th. According to Deges, “Attending this concert is definitely a must for your holiday season. The full movie will be presented on the big screen while our wonderful orchestra performs the score live for the audience.” Anyone who attended “Pixar in Concert” two seasons ago will surely recall with pleasure the excitement of that live multi-media event.

Along with the WFSO’s new “Symphony Kids Night Out” at the Bill Bartley Family YMCA the night of the show, they are also hosting “Beethoven at the Brewery” on November 14th from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Wichita Falls Brewing Company. “Beethoven at the Brewery” is a chance for anyone interested in hearing live music performed by a handful of WFSO musicians, as well as an opportunity to share a brew with the conductor, staff, and symphony volunteers in an intimate setting. For more info on these events and the concert itself, contact 723-6202 or

Written by Todd Giles.


Deanna Watson, Wichita Falls Times Record NewsPublished 6:34 a.m. CT Oct. 20, 2019 | Updated 6:34 a.m. CT Oct. 20, 2019


Music has held a precious place in the life of Jackson Sons since his birth some 17 years ago.

Born Feb. 1, 2002, with Down Syndrome and a number of health issues, the Rider High School student and member of the Rider Raiders band found music more than just entertaining. Music taught him how to spell his name.

“Jackson has ALWAYS loved music,” said his mother, Richelle Sons. “He loved to dance (even when strapped in his high chair) and clap his hands to music throughout the day.”

Music gave the stay-at-home mom a way to entertain her youngest child.

“When he was very young — maybe 6 — we discovered music therapy. It was amazing the things he was able to learn through music with his therapist, Jodie White,” said Richelle, who added that music also tamed some behavioral issues.

“Jackson learned how to spell his name, his address, phone number, and other things using songs — think Bingo, B.I.N.G.O, but instead he would spell Jackson,” she said.

His desire to take band as a class at Rider came as no surprise for the Sons family, which includes father, Rusty, and two older sisters.

Taylor, 23, graduated from the University of Texas in May and attends grad school at the University of North Texas, studying speech and language pathology. Maddie, 21, will graduate in May from UNT with a psychology degree. 

By enrolling in the band class, Jackson, by definition, became part of the Rider Raider band. Just what contribution Jackson would bring to the band took some thought and planning.

“His parents requested band as a class like all other students,” said Loy Studer, band director in his 14th year at Rider. 

“We weren’t sure what the path was at the beginning or how to best use Jackson’s talents so that band would be a benefit to him,” Studer said. “Just like every kid we teach, we had to get to know him as a person to see what his skill set was.”

Rider received a 1 score – Superior – from the UIL judges and will advance to the Area competition in Odessa next Saturday. 

“At the beginning, we just felt like percussion was the place that he could have the best chance to participate,” said Studer, whose younger daughter Lilly is a senior band member.

“Jackson has played a lot of different instruments in band from triangle to bass drum to other accessories,” Studer said. “He will try anything.”

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Jackson wouldn’t, though, have anything to do with performing in the stands or, at first, on the field.

His fear of heights still keeps him from joining the band in the stands during the game, his mom said, and he appears on the field during halftime after much encouragement and practice.

“He has a vestibular disorder that makes it hard for him to navigate anything that is not flat ground,” Richelle said.

“He is scared of heights, so being in the stands with the band is not an option for him,” she said. “Even sitting in our cart at the top of the ramp during the games was hard for him because he could see the field below, and I think it felt to him like he would fall if he got too close to the edge.”

His first halftime performance took much planning for Jackson to trust the process.

“When we practiced going down the ramp his freshman year, Mr. (Geoff) Martin was there, and Jackson had him sit next to him, while (dad) Rusty drove them up and down the ramp,” Richelle said. “Mr Martin is a saint!”

Jackson joins another band student with special challenges, Studer said. 

“We have a completely deaf student in guard who will compete at UIL this year,” Studer said. “I still don’t know how he stays in tempo when he can’t hear anything.”

Studer added that the UIL judges would have no idea a student on the field is deaf. All the students are judged by the respective rubric. 

Band competitions can be fierce with rivalries seemingly as intense as those in football pads, but that didn’t play a role in any decision Studer made with Jackson.

“As far as kids that are differently abled, I didn’t go to college to get a degree to be able to win trophies,” Studer said. “Those are great. They are a sign that you are doing the correct things every day.  However, what is most important is teaching kids. All kids.”

A highlight for the Sons family was when Jackson was recognized on senior night last month. 

“Every time I think, ‘That was the best!,’ it gets topped at the next pep rally, football game, electronica performance or show. Jackson is ALWAYS so proud of himself after each performance, no matter what it is,” said his mom, who added that she can see other percussion band members mouth “good job” to her son during performances.

“I will say, walking across the field with him on senior night and hearing the band erupt in cheers for him as his name was announced was pretty special,” she said. “He threw his fists in the air, and cheered for himself as well when he heard them. It was priceless.”

Deanna Watson is the editor of the Times Record News. Watson, in her third decade of journalism, can be reached at 


by Richard Carter

Special to Wichita Falls Times Record News USA TODAY NETWORK – TEXAS

Joyce Yang discovered piano at age 4, but wasn’t truly moved by music until she was 14 and heard Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center.

“It really brought me to tears,” Yang said. “At that age, I didn’t know music had that kind of power over peoples’ emotions. I was overcome by the beauty of it. Until then, it was just about me playing the piano and enjoying to play piano, not about the music.”

It began her commitment to becoming a musician and spreading the powerful force and joy through music. “Until you fall in love with music, you do it to show off for your own good and to be like, ‘Look, what I can do,’ but then you suddenly realize you can serve a higher purpose with it.”

Yang will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra at Memorial Auditorium as the WFSO opens its season. She performed Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor three years ago with the WFSO.

Currently living in Alabama, by way of New York City, Yang began playing at 4 and was her aunt’s first student in Seoul, South Korea. “She has a natural flair for teaching young children.

Her aunt is still teaching in Seoul, but is now working with teachers to help implement her method in schools. “I am sort of bigger than life when I visit her school,” she said with a laugh.

Yang learned the Beethoven Piano Concerto when she was 16 or 17. “It’s in this dark C minor, and all the great dramatic C minors, it’s the drama that grabs you in the beginning.”

When she was learning the concerto she thought it was fiery and dark and playful, all at the same time. “The melodies were so gripping: I couldn’t get enough of it.”

The piece transformed in her mind at age 18 when she heard pianist Yefim Bronfman perform it at the Aspen Summer Musical Festival. “There was intimacy and such breadth of poetry in it that he brought out that I couldn’t believe my ears. It was not the same piece.”

See YANG, Page 2B

Joyce Yang will play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra at Memorial Auditorium as the WFSO opens its season. COURTESY

Continued from Page 1B

She remembers walking home in the rain, having forgotten her umbrella, “and thinking how my life was basically changed by that performance. I will really spend my life trying to find all the treasures in this piece. It’s the greatest thing I have ever heard.”

The next year, at age 19 she won the silver medal at the Cliburn Competition, and the Beethoven piece was one of two concertos she presented in the final round.

Since then, the concerto has continued to become more personal to her. “I end up working on soft hushed chords for hours, because it’s no longer about the flashy runs. I’ve been doing them for 15 years. I should be able to do them.

“But, finding that inner meaning that is many shades from the obvious. I think that’s the treasures we need to find: how to voice the first chord of the Second Movement in a way that I hope people really experience what a key change is for the first time.

That one piano chord has six notes and there’s nothing complicated about it, she said. “But that’s the chord I heard by Bronfman that will never leave my mind. I could not believe my ears. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard and I felt like I was hallucinating.”

“It should go directly to your psyche, your heart. It remains timeless in my mind. It has to be just heartfelt enough; that balance between something so cerebral and something that is so emotional.”

Yang’s performance with the WFSO will be the first concert of the season for her after some time off this summer. She has a new chamber music recording out this week with the Alexander String Quartet.

If you attend the concert, please take note: “In the first movement, when I am done with the cadenza,” Yang said, “and the orchestra sort of creeps in playing what sounds almost like a heartbeat (that was there the whole time), I think that moment, til the end of movement which is not even a minute, I think that is the greatest writing of all time. It’s how Beethoven comes out of the piano cadenza and then brings the piece to a dramatic finish.

“I really hope all the hairs stand up on the back of your neck because that’s the moment I buy tickets to Beethoven 3 for is to hear how pianists do that differently. Just on that measure, the 10 seconds after the cadenza, I probably poured 100 hours in trying to get that right. I don’t know what it’s so significant. It’s so eerie and so mysterious and so mystical in a way.

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Richard Carter, For the Times Record News Published 12:00 a.m. CT Aug. 23, 2019 | Updated 6:46 a.m. CT Aug. 23, 2019


What: 2019-20 Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra season

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept 21, 2019 to April 18, 2010

Where: Memorial Auditorium, Seventh and BroadAdmission: Season tickets and single seat tickets available Information: or (940) 723-6202

The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra will open its 2019-2020 season, its third under Musical Director and Conductor Fouad Fakhouri, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21 at Memorial Auditorium.         

Single non-season ticket seats went on sale earlier this past Monday for the new season online at the website or by calling them at (940) 723-6202.“We are going to do six performances this year,” said Fakhouri, “one of them a Young Person’s Concert. The major change from last season is that we will not perform at Akin Auditorium at Midwestern State University.”Performing at Akin was very successful, he said, and they would like to schedule shows there in the future. “Our next step is to secure funding to do that on a permanent basis.”

The evening will open with Von Weber’s “Overture to Der Freischütz,” from the early German Romantic opera. “It’s a great piece of music heard more in Europe than US,” he said. Opening night will conclude with Dvořák’s “Symphony No. 8 in G Major.The Symphony returns on Nov 16 with a program called “Classical Tales” and will open with Rossini’s “Overture to ‘The Barber of Seville,’” a piece Fakhouri humorously said will be known by anyone who has seen Bugs Bunny. The WFSO will then play Mozart’s “Symphony No. 25,” “a great work from near the end of his career,” and Beethoven’s quite famous “Symphony No. 7.”

This “Classical Tales” program, he explained, is one for that’s not only for connoisseurs of classical music, but should also be popular with people who enjoy symphonic music. “This is the bread and butter of what we do. This will also be challenging program for the musicians and a great workout for them.”

Fakhouri is very excited about the 2019 Christmas program, “Home Alone in Concert” on Dec 14, 2019. “I am hoping the response will be similar to the Pixar concert we did,” he said. “We will perform the music by John Williams of the movie ‘Home Alone,’ and the movie will be projected on two screens, possibly more.”

The “Peter and the Wolf: The Young People’s Concert” follows on Jan 24, 2020 and was specifically designed for young people, he said. “We want to interact and engage with our young audiences.” They will also perform the first movement from Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony, “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “The National Anthem,” and Leroy Anderson’s “Plink, Plank, Plunk!”“Russian Masterpieces” will follow on Feb 29 and open with Bruckner’s “March in D Minor.” “I love his music, and this is a very good introduction to our audiences of that music.”Guest cellist Julian Schwartz will play Shostakovich’s “Cello Concerto No. 1” and the WFSO will then perform Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5.” “This is more of a true Romantic program,” he said. “I’ve wanted to do the Tchaikovsky with the WFSO for some time and am really looking forward to it.”The 2019-20 WFSO season concludes with “Brilliantly Orchestrated” on April 18, 2020. The evening will open with a world premiere of Fakhouri’s “Krupa,” “providing I finish it,” he said with a laugh. Guest pianist Andrey Ponochevny will play Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini,” and the orchestra will perform Rimsky-Korsakov’s famous piece, “Scheherazade.”“The mindset for this season is to continue to build on the growth of the first two seasons,” Fakhouri said. “To find pieces that will appeal to our audiences and to try to continue on the growth of the previous seasons. “What I am trying to do is to try new things to see what is working and what is not working as well and to try to always find ways to engage with our audiences and to attract new ones. This season hopefully has enough variety to be able to do that.”  Prior to each performance at approximately 6:45 p.m., the conductor will deliver informal pre-concert talks about the musical pieces to be performed that evening.

What: Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra Dance Mix

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb 23

Where: Memorial Auditorium, 1300 7th St.

Information: (940) 723-6202 or


The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra’s Dance Mix program with the Wichita Falls Ballet Theatre began with WFSO Conductor and Music Director Fouad Fakhouri programming music that related to dance.

“As we were brainstorming,” Fakhouri said, “the symphony office suggested we ask the Ballet Theatre to collaborate with us. We set up a meeting and that’s how it happened. I wished I could claim that I had that idea,” he said with a laugh, “but I am very glad that it happened.”

The WFSO Dance Mix program will open at 7:30 p.m. Saturday Feb. 23 at Memorial Auditorium and will feature dancers from the WFBT.

There will be 15 dancers performing to 3 of the evenings 6 musical pieces. “I am excited about that collaboration and the concert.”

He has since worked with dancers numerous times in terms of traditional ballet such as Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, and the maestro enjoys modern as well.

The evening will open with a short 2-minute piece by Verdi from the opera “Aida” called “Dance of the Little Moorish Slaves.” “It’s taken from a large section in opera, where there are dancers and the action stops and there is one dance after another.

“It’s a pretty upbeat piece,” he said.

Next is Bizet’s “Carmen Suite #1,” an opera, he said, which part has since been choreographed for dance.

Four dancers from the ballet will join the WFSO on “Carmen,” said Mischic Liberatore, artistic director for the WFBT. “It has very much as a Spanish flair,” she said and there will be 4 dancers in point shows over the 12 minute piece.  

The dance program will continue with Khachaturian’s “Gayane Ballet.” “Khachaturian is a composer I really, really like,” Fakhouri said. “He’s less known in the United States. He was Armenian and lived during the Soviet era.

“His music is really authentic. You cannot hear it and not think it’s not Khachaturian. ‘Gayane Ballet” is one of those ballets where every single section is well known, famous or utterly beautiful, but it’s not done often.

Fakhouri said that he wanted to expose his audience to the composer. “It will be familiar on the one hand, but it will also be new for many of them, but accessible.”

 The next piece, Copland’s “Hoe-down” from “Rodeo” is a piece everyone knows, he said, and the WFBT will perform in cowboy boots, point shoes and western gear, said Liberatore. “It’s like the big party that’s part of our ‘Western Ballet.”

The Symphony will then perform two pieces of Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances,” No. 6 and No. 8. They are very short, about 4 or 5 minutes each, and are part of the symphonic repertoire, he said.

The evening concludes with Bernstein’s 23 minute “West Side Story-Symphonic Dances,” which the WFBT dancers will come in and out of during the performance. “It will be more of that Jerome Robbins’ (the movie choreographer) contemporary jazzy feeling with a little bit of ballet mixed in,” said Liberatore. 

“Who hasn’t seen West Side Story,’ the iconic American story, which is basically ‘Romeo and Juliet’ reimagined on the west side of New York City,” asked Fakhouri.

“It’s a fantastic piece and a great arrangement. The most famous part is ‘The Mambo’ where the word ‘Mambo’ is yelled out in the middle. Bernstein really never intended for this arrangement for symphony orchestra to be danced to,” he said.

Fakhouri said this program was such an excellent opportunity to partner with another arts organization in Wichita Falls and to showcase both of their talents. “Our symphony musicians and their dancers – it’s a win win for all of us in terms of the arts.”

The last time for the WFSO to partner with the Ballet, said Symphony Executive Director Sherry Ransom, was three years ago when several members of the Ballet danced the “Nutcracker” as part of the WFSO’s Christmas concert.


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


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


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.”