What: Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra Fall Concert
When: 4 p.m. Sunday Nov. 7
Where: Akin Auditorium, Midwestern State University, 3410 Taft Blvd.
Admission: Free and donations are appreciated.
Information: Jean Hall at (940) 723-6202 or the WFYSO’s Facebook or Website
The Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra will present their Fall Concert at 4 p.m. Sunday Nov. 7 at Akin Auditorium on the Midwestern State University campus.
The WFYSO’s last performances were open air last year in the Burkburnett Friendship Park and in downtown Wichita Falls, and the musicians are looking forwards to being back inside Akin and its wonderful sound. “It was a great experiment and great experience but we had issues with the acoustics. We are so happy to be inside Akin again,” said Jean Hall, executive director of the WFYSO.
The performance will include four ensembles made up of 60 students from third grade to high school seniors from 20 schools, some outside of the Wichita Falls Independent School District. Admission is free, and everyone is welcome.
The musicians will be exercising COVID precautions. They wear masks when they enter and leave rehearsals and performances, and their seating will be apart but not 6 feet apart like in 2020, Hall said. “We’re moving back to normal but still trying to be safe. We’re finding a balance.”
Audiences will have hand sanitizer at the door, and masks are encouraged, but are optional, she said. There are no seating restrictions. “There should be enough seating for those who are concerned to sit in back where there are less people,” she said. The auditorium has about 420 seats, and there is plenty of free parking.
“Our theme and guiding vision this year is reinvigorating traditions,” Hall said. “Last year it seems like everything got thrown out the window: it was all innovation and experiment. This year we are looking at what did we miss when we threw those things out, and what is most important that we had to bring back.”
The concert begins at 4 p.m. with the Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonic Violin Ensemble, the Symphonic Strings Ensemble and the Symphonic Orchestra, The latter (and largest) orchestra is conducted by MSU Music professor Dr. Matthew Luttrell (who is also the Music Director of the WFYSO) and features 40 musicians. The afternoon concert will last one hour.
“We are focusing this year on the great repertoire: the classic traditional,” said Hall. “The theme for all of the groups is the best of the best repertoire, the greatest classical orchestra music.”
Each musician auditions to become a member of an ensemble, which are each based on a certain developmental level. The groups have each had 10 rehearsals since August, meeting once a week.
Everything the Symphonic Orchestra plays, Hall said, is music that people will know. “You’ll hear it and get shivers. It’s the good stuff, including the ‘Can Can’ and Gershwin’s ‘American in Paris.’ If you don’t know the titles, you will recognize the music,” she said.
“For 2021, the Symphony Orchestra's focus is on what makes the ensemble great: its roots in exceptional repertoire,” said Luttrell. “This semester's selections include music from von Suppe, Offenbach, Elgar, and Gershwin, all four with different style, nuance, and musical challenges.
“Rehearsals are intense music-making experiences. We rehearse with intent, always thinking about how great performance comes out of effort, emotion, and expression,” he said. “As a music educator, there is no greater thrill than working with young students, providing opportunities to make music in the same manner as orchestras around the world.”
Both orchestras this year will have new conductors. In the past, Luttrell was the Philharmonic Conductor, and this year he is the Symphonic Conductor as well as the Artistic Director of the WFYSO. The new Philharmonic Director is Kathy Liticker, who recently moved to the area from Lawton.
Amanda Hernandez will once again still conduct the Philharmonic Ensemble and Barbara Kavanaugh the Symphonic Strings Ensemble.
“Everyone is really excited,” said Hall. “We have new conductors and themes for the music. And, there’s the excitement of being back in the auditorium. The first rehearsal, the kids were sight-reading the ‘Can-Can’ and it was great just seeing them light up. They are getting to play the really good stuff, and we’re really elevating the level of what they’re achieving this year.”
The program for the Symphonic Orchestra also includes “Leichte Kavallerie” (1866) Franz von Suppé; “Enigma Variations” (1899) Edward Elgar IX. (Nimrod); and “Orphée aux enfers” Jacques Offenbach Act II – Galop (Can Can)
Kavanaugh’s String Ensemble will perform “Concerto for String Orchestra” by Georg Philipp Telemann and “Allegro Moderato from Symphony No. 3” by Camille Saint-Saens.
Hernandez’s Philharmonic Small Ensemble will perform “When You Wish Upon a Star from Pinocchio” by Leigh Harline arr. Mark Philips; and “The Galway Piper” traditional arr. Myanna Harvey.
Liticker’s Philharmonic Orchestra will play “Long, Long Ago” by T.H. Bailey; “Perpetual Motion Theme” by S. Suzuki; “Storm Soon” by Hee Newbold; “Midnight Rain” by Susan H. Day and “Twilight Ceremonial” by William Hofeldt.
Upcoming WFYSO concerts for this year include a Christmas performance at 7:30 p.m. December 17 at Akin Auditorium, and they will also perform with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra on Dec. 11 at Memorial Auditorium.
This article originally appeared on Wichita Falls Times Record News: Wichita Falls Youth Symphony bringing tradition back