West Texas Symphony opens season with Rachmaninoff

The West Texas Symphony opens their 61st season on Sept. 9 at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center. The first concert titled Happy 150th Rachmninoff takes place at 7:30 p.m.

“We are excited to start our season where we left off last spring: with the powerhouse that is Rachmaninoff!” explained Ethan Wills, Executive Director in a press release. “We are also very fortunate to announce that a composer of one the evening’s selections, Christopher Theofanidis, will be coming to West Texas to attend our rehearsals and performance of his acclaimed work! This is a big deal, a great opportunity for the West Texas Symphony, and will make for a knockout performance!”

The night begins with Bedřich Smetana’s Dance of the Comedians from the 1860s. Smetana was known as the father of Czech music, and the piece will be a lively start to the night’s performance,

Grammy award winning violist, Richard O’Neill, will perform visiting composer Christopher Theofanidis’ Concerto for Viola and Chamber Orchestra.

Winner of both a Grammy and Emmy Award, and recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, he has achieved recognition and critical acclaim not only as a champion of his instrument but as a social and musical ambassador as well. In June 2020, he joined the world-renowned Takacs Quartet. As recitalist, he has performed in some of the greatest halls of the world including Carnegie, Alice Tully, the Kennedy Center, Disney, and many more. He’s made ten solo albums which have sold more than 200,000 copies and remained one of the best-selling South Korean recording artists for over a decade. His recordings of Christopher Theofanidis’ viola concerto earned him his third nomination and first Grammy in the Best Instrumental Solo category. The first violist to receive the Artist Diploma from Juilliard, he holds a bachelor of music from The USC Thornton School of Music magna cum laude and a master’s from The Juilliard School, a news release said.

The evening’s finale showcasing the orchestra’s artistry is Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. Rachmaninoff was one of the last Russian composers to write in the Romantic style and considered amongst the greatest concert pianists in history. The acclaimed work was written in 1940, and his final composition before death.

Tickets for the opening concert are $12 -$60 and can be purchased at wtxs.org or by calling 800-514-3849. All subscription packages for the entire season will be available until Sept. 9. Student tickets are $12 with a paying adult or valid college ID.

Patrons are also invited to experience Symphony SoundBites, a pre-concert supper held before the performance in the Rea-Greathouse Recital Hall at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center. By purchasing a ticket to this tasty event, patrons will enjoy dining with friends as Maestro Gary Lewis provides an insider’s view of the evening’s program. Seating is limited and based on a first-come-first-serve basis. Tickets may be purchased for $30 each by calling the Wagner Noël Box Office at 432-552-4437. Deadline to purchase SoundBites tickets is Friday, Sept. 1.

Happy 150TH Rachmaninoff is generously sponsored by Midland Symphony Guild, Odessa Symphony Guild, Ann and Ken Hankins Jr., and Dr. Charles and Melanie Lively. For more information on West Texas Symphony events, visit wtxs.org.