Meadows Symphony Orchestra kicks off community concert series

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The Meadows Orchestra behind the scenes at the Winspear Opera House performance in May. (Courtesy of Meadows Symphony)

The Meadows Symphony Orchestra performed at Caruth Auditorium on Friday.

Students, their families and music fans gathered in all 490 seats to watch the first recital of the Meadows School’s new concert series.

Richard Bayless, engineering management information systems major eagerly described the concert as a “breath of fresh air” from today’s pop music.

“It’s exciting to hear natural sounds where you can see the musician play the particular instrument,” Bayless says, adding that he had visited concerts, but “never at this level.”

Music director Paul Phillips chose pieces from lesser-known 20th century composers.

Warm noises flowed as students tuned their instruments readying the crowd for “Linutokto/Isle of Bliss.”

The 1995 Einojuhani Rautavaara piece is an idyllic number.

Slow, watery passages allude to the jungle adventures of Tarzan or Doc Strange.

Flutes chirp over ominous strings as the music slows to a pace of dreams until ending on a happy note.

Maurice Ravel’s two pieces were studies in contrast.

“Pavane pour une infante defunte,” or “Dance for a Dead Princess” in English sobered the mood in the music hall.

Forlorn french horn leads a delicate dance of strings and woodwinds before
sighing warmly.

“Le Tombeau de Couperin” on the other hand is a lively oboe romp through the tulips chased by the rest of the orchestra. Spreads of harp segue into a
triumphant finish.

After a 15-minute intermission the orchestra played scenes and dances from “The Three-Cornered Hat” by Manuel de Falla.

The piece has the orchestra at full gusto — galloping woodblocks and string swells tell the story of a magistrate unsuccessfully attempting to seduce a miller’s wife.

Audiences stood up and cheered at the recital’s closing.

Sophomore and biochemistry major Celia Garza enjoyed the show, but felt “it was short” for a recital.

The Meadows School of the Arts recently received an endowment of $2 million from SMU alumna Martha Raley Peak.

The endowment will fund Phillips’ salary and other projects.

Meadows in turn honored her by renaming the music director’s position to the Martha Raley Peak Chair of Conducting.

“It’s a wonderful thing for the university,” Phillips, music director since 1996, said.
Phillips is enthusiastic about the orchestra’s concert series, calling it “a lot of work.”

“We have a great season ahead of us. Very difficult music, but it’s going to be fantastic. I’m looking forward to it.”

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