The 2017-2018 Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra season opens on October 14th under the baton of Dr. Fouad Fakhouri, who takes the podium for the first time as the WFSO’s new Music Director-Conductor following Dr. Candler Schaffer’s dedicated twenty year tenure with the orchestra.
If you did not have the opportunity to see Maestro Fakhouri when he was in town as one of the WFSO’s thee conductor finalists, you will want to be sure to welcome him for the season opener. Last year, he led the WFSO in music by Saint-Saens and Strauss. The highlight his concert was Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, which was performed with guest soloist (and Cliburn Crystal Award winner) Sean Chen.
The October 14th concert, at Maestro Fakhouri’s suggestion, features not a soloist, but the talented members of the WFSO themselves. Made up of over seventy professional musicians from Wichita Falls and the Metroplex, the WFSO has established itself over its seventy year history as one of the top regional orchestras on the Southern Plains, which is precisely why Fakhouri wants to feature them at his first the season opener in Wichita Falls.
The concert will begin with a favorite of many listeners, Mozart’s overture to the opera The Marriage of Figaro. The second work on the program is Mexican composer Arturo Marquez’s Danzon No. 2. Though it might be unfamiliar at first hearing, it is sure to become a favorite in the hearts and minds of everyone in the auditorium due to its exciting Cuban and Mexican dance rhythms. Danzon No. 2 has become one of the most frequently performed contemporary Mexican compositions since it premiered in Mexico City in 1994.
Maestro Fakhouri will also lead the orchestra in Ivor Stravinsky’s famous Firebird Suite, which was composed in 1919 on the heels of World War I. The incidental music from The Firebird, an opera Stravinsky originally completed in 1910, was so well liked by audiences that he decided to bring it together in the suite form that Texomans will hear at Memorial Auditorium on the 14th.
If there is a work on the October program that will highlight the grandeur, mastery, and subtlety of our fine orchestra, it is the Symphony No. 1 by Johannes Brahms. Known as one of the “Three B’s” of classical music alongside Bach and Beethoven, the forty-three year old Brahms took fourteen years to complete his first symphony, which premiered in 1876. It’s not surprising, because this Late Romantic era composer was still very attached to the earlier symphonic style laid out by his Classical predecessors such as Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.
The rest of the 2017-2018 season will be just as exciting. On November 11th, Wichita Falls will be treated to a visit by actor and former serviceman Wilford Brimley, who will narrate one of the works on the Veteran’s Day salute concert. The world-famous Canadian Brass will return to Memorial Auditorium on December 16th for the WFSO’s annual Christmas concert, and on February 24th, the orchestra will be joined by MSU professor and Dean of the Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts, Dr. Martin Camacho, who will perform Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor. The season closes on April 14th with a multi-media concert that is sure to be talked about for many years to come—Pixar in Concert. Free tickets are available for this community outreach concert through the WFSO office beginning February 5th.
Readers who have never attended a WFSO concert are encouraged to give it a try this season as the organization celebrates not only its seventieth anniversary, but also the hiring of its new conductor, Fouad Fakhouri. Tickets are available at a variety of prices. To learn more about the WFSO and the current season, check out wfso.org or follow the WFSO on Facebook (Wichita Falls Symphony), Twitter (@WFSO), Instagram (wf_so), or Snapchat (wfsymphony).
-Dr. Todd Giles