The 2019 season of the Sherman Symphony Orchestra is just around the corner and Grayson County’s own symphony has a lot in store for both its tried and true fans and those who might give it a try for the first time.
The season started with a fundraiser on Sept. 28 at 903 Brewery, 1718 S. Elm Street in Sherman, but the SSO officially opens its 54th season with Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances.
Conductor Daniel Dominick said the SSO last played this about 20 years ago.
“Choosing pieces for our concerts is really a long process for me,” he said. “Sometimes there is a specific piece I am thinking about and then I will program the whole concert around it. Sometimes the process begins with the size orchestra or number of players we have and want to feature and I look for works that fit that need.
The February concert is featuring a certain size orchestra on two of the pieces I was planning, so for the final one or two pieces of that concert we will use that same orchestration. Sometimes we want to include works by composers our student players need to learn, like Beethoven or Mozart.”
The SSO will put on their Christmas hats and feature yuletide classics for the Christmas Pops concerts on Dec. 7-8.
Dominick said Christmas Pops is a long-standing SSO tradition that precedes him, and the seasonal concerts are often a gateway, of sorts, to people who might not normally go looking for trip to the symphony.
“We also just want to offer something fun for the whole family,” he explained. “Every Pops concert is going to be a unique experience, something you can attend every year and know that it will be new every time. We include seasonal pieces, a sing along, sometimes movie music, sometimes video and images, and always some surprise. Our players love this concert, too. The atmosphere is very family-friendly in that folks can bring snacks and the seating is a tables to facilitate that. With coloring concerts, festive decorations, and lively music it is a real season-starting tradition for a lot of people.”
When the twinkle lights are all put away again, the SSO will be back in February with a piece that is expected to warm things up a bit. Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 will feature guest soprano Molly Fillmore. The words to the piece, Dominick said, are a poem written by James Agee and include Agee’s six-year-old self viewing his world and his loving family.
“It’s quite touching,” Dominick said. He said the other vocal pieces for that night include two songs by by Villa-Lobos, a the Brazilian composer. “They are lovely pieces, too.,” he said.
The SSO will finish its season in May with Respighi’s Fountains of Rome on May 2.
Dominick said many people probably think that SSO is an all-professional orchestra. “But we have many AC student members (mostly string players), we have volunteer players from the region (gifted players who just want to perform with a good orchestra) and even some faculty and graduate students from area universities who play with us,” he explained.
He said the balance of the types and backgrounds of the members is unique. “What makes all of this work is the love every member brings to the performance. These are such fine people, and I am honored to be a part of their music making,” he said.