The 52nd season of the Sherman Symphony Orchestra will begin Sept. 30 with a farm-to-table dinner performance. Even though the dinner and show are already sold out, symphony show patrons will have many opportunities to see and hear the orchestra perform this season.
The October 7 performance will feature Johannes Brahms’s “Symphony No. 2 and Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero.” There will be a Christmas performance by the orchestra on Dec. 3-4. Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird” will be played on March 3, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5” will be played on April 28. The October, November, March and April performances are held at Kidd-Key Auditorium in Sherman. The December performance will be held in the Sid Richardson Center at Austin College.
“Our programming is not usually coordinated into a theme,” Sherman Symphony Conductor Dan Dominick. “I do the programming — that is one of the difficult jobs, but a great joy to choose the season’s repertoire. We try very hard to present concerts of music that include pieces the audience will recognize, also pieces that are less familiar but which are truly worth hearing. Each concert will include something very exciting and something very beautiful.”
Dominick said there are wonderful people involved with the symphony, and he believes that is why is so good.
“As a teaching orchestra, our highly skilled, trained, professional members know that they are helping the other players to advance — and that over time the orchestra is that much stronger,” he said. “We also get graduate students from area universities who’re highly skilled and eager for playing opportunities and experience. Knowing from the start that this is who we are, we have a very friendly and helpful and even loving atmosphere in rehearsal. I think that shows or sounds in a performance.”
The Sherman Symphony began in the fall of 1966. It was organized by Austin College faculty member Cecil Isaac.
“His vision was for a community orchestra that would help with music education at the college but also provide area musicians a high-performing group to play in,” Dominick said. “We have evolved into a much larger and more professional organization in the past 52 seasons, but the SSO is still a teaching orchestra. We include college and even sometimes high school players who are qualified. It is the mission of the SSO to provide opportunities for area musicians, young and older, to further their skills and to learn how to play music from different periods and styles.
The Sherman Symphony also works to educate area students through its free children’s educational concerts each year. The October, March and April concerts are free to students of all grade levels and college.
“The community orchestra is important because it is the opportunity for young people to see local musicians perform,” Dominick said. “I think it gives them the chance to imagine themselves continuing with their music, knowing that it isn’t just professionals from Dallas who make music. They can grow up, studying their music, and be involved in performances themselves. We provide classical music, which is not heard live in just about any other way, to our region. It may be that few grow up studying or listening to classical music, but very many people love classical music once they are exposed to it. We provide that experience with great music right here, without folks needing to drive to Dallas.”
Dominick has been with the Sherman Symphony since fall of 1992. He is a full-time faculty member at Austin college who teaches conducting, music history, and piano.
The orchestra “is a testament to our local community to the fact of classical music’s enduring value,” he said. “It is also a testament to the generosity and depth of pride in our community. North Texas and southern Oklahoma really care about the arts.”
The legacy of the Sherman Symphony, Dominick said, is in its teaching and education.
“We have raised up generations of orchestral musicians, professional and otherwise,” he said.
Aside from its Sherman performances, the orchestra plats in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Denison. It will soon be performing in Greenville. The orchestra has a monthly television broadcast on KXII-12 CBS.
“I would love for the SSO to truly be known as belonging to all of North Texas/southern Oklahoma,” Dominick said. “We want to perform in Durant and maybe Gainesville. And I think McKinney and those southern neighbors would have a hard decision on whether to drive to Dallas or Sherman when considering orchestra performances.”
The orchestra hears auditions at the beginning of each season at the beginning. Auditioners play three different pieces that show their ability to play fast, play melody, and show their knowledge and awareness of different styles.
“We gain about two or three new players a year not counting AC student members,” Dominick said. “Since we don’t lose many, the orchestra grows over time!”