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Community orchestra is music to locals’ ears

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Flower Mound’s Trietsch Memorial United Methodist Church sits amid its mature landscaping near the intersection of Morris and Justin Roads.  Home to a large vibrant congregation, Trietsch generously provides its facilities for the Flower Mound Symphony Orchestra (FMSO), a mixed group of accomplished amateur and professional musicians led by conductor and composer Dr. Paul Bonneau of Denton.

Bonneau hardly looks old enough to have led the orchestra for the past 15 years, but he swears he was born in 1962 in Chicago.  He grew up hearing his father play the classical piano repertoire, but after the family moved to the DFW area Maestro Bonneau spent his teen years playing electric bass guitar in rock groups with names like The Cartoons, and The Midnight Twisters.  “I still like rock music,” he says with a grin.

Bonneau learned to play the piano at Richland College.  His interests then led him to UNT where he completed three degrees in music composition, learned to conduct, and served as adjunct faculty.  He is now a busy Visiting Scholar at Richland College.

The Symphony Orchestra is one third of the Flower Mound Community Orchestras, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the idea that, “The arts enhance a community’s quality of life for both its artists and audiences,” Bonneau says.  This is certainly the case with the FMSO and its two large teaching ensembles the Progressive and Preparatory Orchestras.

The average FMSO musician comes to the stage with his or her own instrument, and more than 10 years of instruction and ensemble performance experience. Bonneau, the orchestra’s recruiter-in-chief, holds formal auditions for all instruments–strings, winds, brass, and percussion–in August and December each year.  Musicians choose their own audition music, “Excerpts of contrasting musical character,” Bonneau says, “one piece is fast and technical, and the other is slow and lyrical.”

Musicians from Flower Mound and surrounding towns join the FMSO for their own playing pleasure, but that doesn’t mean they are not serious.  “It’s a lot of work for everyone, but the fun comes in the successful concert experience,” Bonneau said.   The group is a diverse bunch of men and women who range from college age students to individuals near retirement.  “The older we get, the younger the college kids look,” Bonneau laughs.

Bonneau plans the concert schedule and programs a year in advance.  “I have to be flexible since the personnel in a voluntary orchestra may change from year to year.”  The group’s objective is to perform standard professional orchestral works such as their upcoming performances of Mozart’s Requiem.  That work, Bonneau says, “is one of the greatest works of all time.”  (Friday, November 4, 7:30 p.m. at the Garland Performing Arts Center, and Saturday, November 5, 7:30 p.m. at Trietsch)

They also play jazz and popular pieces–think music from movies like Star Wars.  Players who remain with the orchestra significantly broaden their performance résumés, and based on the rehearsal atmosphere, have an enjoyable time doing so.

Vocal and instrumental soloists beginning their professional careers travel around the country to perform with community orchestras like the FMSO.  “We get to play with, and our audiences get to hear, some very fine performers,” Bonneau said.  From time to time the FMSO also premieres exciting new compositions by modern composers.

The orchestra collaborates with community performance groups such as the Trietsch Chancel Choir, The Voices of Flower Mound, and Footlights Dance Studio.  The Chancel Choir performed with the FMSO in a spectacular Singing Christmas Tree program.  This past summer The Voices of Flower Mound joined the orchestra in a rousing tribute to America’s founding.  Lewisville’s Footlights Dance Studio students and faculty (and Flower Mound Mayor Pro Tem Al Filidoro in jeans and a plaid flannel shirt) took the stage for an unforgettable performance of Prokofiev’s charming Peter And The Wolf.  (If you think ballet is only men in tights and leaping girls in tutus, think again!)

Each year the FMSO schedules its “Children’s Interactive Concert,” during which the group plays well-known classical works.  The conductor teachers the audience a theoretical tidbit about each piece before the audience hears it.  This format culminates in a tidbit quiz contest for young audience members whose names have been drawn, with no small flourish, from a large fishbowl.  Contestants leave the stage with cool prizes, and the quiz winner receives the maestro’s baton to conduct the orchestra in some peppy work like The Lone Ranger’s theme, known in proper music circles as Rossini’s Wilhelm Tell Overture.

The FMSO is guided by an active local Board of Directors who handle its business arrangements, recruit patrons and sponsors, and sell advertising to raise funds to rent or buy performance music and music stands, produce marketing and publicity materials, and–for those locals who know what’s really important in life–provide luscious free snacks at each concert’s intermission.

No tickets are necessary for the Symphony’s free performances, generally held in the Trietsch Memorial United Methodist Church sanctuary, but private donations are, of course, always welcome.  Concert schedules and other information about all three community orchestras are accessible on the internet at www.fmco.org.

 

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