Grammy-winning guitarist to perform with Symphony

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  • What: Sharon Isbin with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 5
  • Where: Akin Auditorium, Midwestern State University, 3410 Taft Blvd.
  • Information and tickets: www.wfso.org and (940) 723-6202

The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra will perform its second program celebrating its 75th anniversary at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Midwestern State University’s Akin Auditorium. The performance will feature world renowned classical guitarist, multiple Grammy winner Sharon Isbin.

Isbin has recorded more than 35 albums since 1978 and will perform with the WFSO two concertos composed by Antonio Vivaldi and Joaquin Rodrigo. Isbin founded the guitar department at the Julliard School in 1989 and directs it. She’s played with such disparate guitarists as rocker Steve Vai and jazz player Larry Coryell, but she’s best known for her classical work.

Fouad Fakhouri, musical director and conductor of the WFSO, is very happy to present it with an orchestra of 40 musicians at the Akin auditorium. “It will be a very nice program,” said Fakhouri. “Akin is a very different experience for this music than Memorial Auditorium, because it’s much more intimate.”

Grammy-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin will perform concertos by Vivaldi and Rodrigo with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 5.  The performance will take place in the intimate Akin Auditorium on the campus of Midwestern State University.  Tickets are available at www.wfso.org or by calling (940) 723-6202.

Isbin will be seated at the edge of the stage, almost right with the audience, he said. “The guitar will be heard so clearly, and I hope the balance between guitar and orchestra will be exactly as these pieces were meant to be performed.”

The program will include “Overture to Il signor Bruschino” by Gioachino Rossini (1813), “Starburst” by Jessie Montgomery (2012), “Guitar Concerto, RV 93, D Major” (1716) by Vivaldi, “Concierto de Aranjuez” (1939 ) by Rodrigo, and after an intermission, the “Symphony No. 1, Op. 11, C minor (1824).

Isbin called herself a “bit of an accidental guitarist” in a podcast with Fakhouri. “When I was 9, our family moved from Minneapolis to Italy for a year,” she said. His brother wanted guitar lessons and the family found a teacher who had studied with Andres Segovia. When her brother – who wanted to be the next Elvis Presley discovered it was classical guitar – she volunteered to take his place.

Isbin had the good fortune to study with Segovia, Oscar Ghiglia, and pianist and Bach scholar Rosalyn Turek. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees are from Yale, and she began touring Europe professionally when she was 17.

The guitarist said she approaches every track, like in “Every day is a new beginning, like every concert. I approach it like it’s the first and last time I do it, and that really gives her a feeling of spontaneity and freshness.In fact, she met Rodrigo in Madrid and was coached by him for his “Concierto de Aranjuez”.

“I chose her,” Fakhouri said, “because in my opinion she’s probably, if not the best guitarist working today, she’s in the top three to five guitarists in the world. We’re really lucky to She’s at the top of her field.

Isbin previously performed with the WFSO at Memorial Auditorium. At Akin, she will perform with eight first violins, eight second violins, six cellists, six basses as well as double winds and double brass.

Fakhouri said Vivaldi’s “Guitar Concerto, RV 93” was originally written for lute (the guitar’s predecessor) and strings and has since been adapted for guitar. “Rodrigo’s ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ is the major concerto for guitar and it is very famous.” The conductor said listeners would likely recognize the piece.

Fakhouri described the Vivaldi as “very energetic and lively”. It captures the essence of Spanish music, he said, including flamenco-style strumming.

“Every time I hear it, it conjures up Spain. The composer wrote it there and was really trying to capture Spain in that piece,” the conductor said.

The concert will open with the “Overture to Il signor Bruschino” by Rossini, one of Fakhouri’s favorite composers. The composer really knows how to create drama in music and his music should be even more punchy in Akin. “Rossini was such a creative composer that he was always interested in creating new ideas and implementing new things in his music.”

Montgomery (“Starburst”) is a contemporary composer from New York in her late 30s and early 40s.

“Her work is being performed more and more, and I thought it would be wonderful to perform a piece by a woman who is alive and working right now. It’s very upbeat and really very flashy work for the ropes,” Fakhouri said.

Fakhouri enjoys programming music written today.

“Adventurous things and our times. I love this music, but I always balance that with our audience’s desire. Many of our loyal supporters like to hear the more traditional works, so I always try to include something new but balance it with works from the main repertoire,” he said.

After the guitar concertos, there will be an intermission and the orchestra will perform Mendelssohn’s “Symphony No. 1”. The composer completed the symphony when he was 15, “and it’s brilliantly written,” Fakhouri said. “This symphony isn’t performed as much as his other works, but I wanted something our audience might not be very aware of.”

As with Rossini’s compositions, Fakhouri is also very close to the work of Mendelssohn. “I think he should be heard a lot more, and his music is extremely developed, even at a young age. At 15, you can look at his work and think, this is already the work of a master.

The next WFSO concert will be Hometown Holiday Pops at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 10 at the Memorial Auditorium.

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