A maestro in our midst

What would your life be like without music? Imagine a world without the dulcet tones and harmonious melodies that often bring a rhythmic sense of joy into an otherwise humdrum part of your day.

Whether you like jazz, rock, country or classical; you probably get a thrill up your spine when the sound of music floats liltingly into your consciousness. Music has been termed “a goodwill ambassador for the soul.” Not only does music have charms to soothe the savage breast, it can conjure up some of the happiest moments of our lives. Who among us hasn’t turned up the volume when an “oldie but goodie” takes us on a sentimental journey to that terpsichorean prom night or that concert under the stars with that special someone?

Speaking of special people, recently, my wife and I had the honor of spending some time with Maestro Adron Ming, Conductor of the Lewisville Lake Symphony (LLS) orchestra, and Grace Lawrence, LLS Chair.

A native of Weslaco, Texas, Maestro Ming received his Masters Degree in Music from Baylor University, and later served on the Baylor faculty as music instructor and assistant conductor of the Baylor and Waco symphonies. In addition to many other successes, Ming has led the Toledo, Ohio Symphony Orchestra, the Taipei Sunshine Symphony in China, the Plano and Irving Symphonies, the Chamber Symphony of the Metrocrest and the New Philharmonic of Irving. While rhythmically waving the baton at all those melodious venues, he has, for the past 30 years, been directing music at LLS.

The symphony, founded in 1984, performs at the MCL Grand Theater, 100 Charles St. in Old Town Lewisville, next to City Hall. Its talented, professional musicians captivate music lovers throughout the Metroplex with compositions that range from Mozart and Beethoven, to premiers of works by contemporary composers. The musicians make their living through music and some teach at UNT and other area universities. Some can be seen playing at the Fort Worth Symphony and in the pit at the Fair Park Summer Musicals and the Dallas Opera. The Grand is the venue for their symphonies, while their International Chamber series, presented in cooperation with the College of Music at the University of North Texas, is always held at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 5500 Morriss Road in Flower Mound (across from Marcus High School).

The artists have come from Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Ukraine, U.K., USA and Venezuela. These are live performances by university graduate students on the cusp of professional careers. The Chamber concerts are free. A donation to the symphony is appreciated if you enjoy what you hear. However, their Symphony Series, performed four times per year, by artists such as Ji-Yeong Mun, winner of the 2014 Takamatsu International Piano Competition and Anna Nizhegorodtseva, also an internationally acclaimed pianist, have a ticket price of $25 for adults (seniors $20) and $10 for students. Details on this musical entertainment, right here in our local area can be found at: www.lewisvillesymphony.org.  

Highland Village resident Grace Lawrence, a pianist, has been active in the performing arts for many years, joining the LLS board of directors four years ago. “Bill Collins was the head of the nominating committee and he contacted me to join,” she said. “I have a passion for classical music, so I got involved to help in the planning and marketing of the series.” Several years earlier, Grace developed a slight case of arthritis in her hands, making it difficult to perform, so she walked away from it and became a math major. A few years ago, after giving someone advice about music being a passion, she began to reflect on the past. “I got in my car that day and started to wonder what happened to my passion,” she said wistfully. Ms. Lawrence decided to begin practicing. “Sometime later, my husband Bill (former Mayor of Highland Village) bought me a Baby Grand and I started playing again,” she smiled. She wants to introduce classical music to children. “Some of the music children are exposed to is so negative,” she said, adding, “I’d like to reach out to them to broaden their lives.”

Adron Ming related the early years of the symphony. “For the first 3-4 years we’d perform at the Methodist Church on Main Street in Lewisville because it was the only venue we could get to perform. We would change rehearsal locations as we could. After 4-5 years we settled into 4 concerts a year. Later, we decided that we needed to become incorporated, and became a 501C3. Among the supporters who helped found the orchestra was Marjory Vickery, Jane Nelson and Ken and Pat Hodge.” I asked the Maestro how he became a conductor. “I think any conductor will tell you it’s a sickness, you get the bug.  I play the cello but I don’t have the passion for the cello that I have for conducting. I got the bug when I was in high school. The problem with being a conductor is that, when you’re starting, you don’t have an instrument to practice on. You play the piano you get a piano. If you want to be a conductor, you don’t have an orchestra to practice with. So what do you do?  Until you get to college, you actually don’t have an opportunity to stand up in front of a group.” 

Adron went on to say, “I don’t play a note up there, but as a conductor there are certain considerations. If the orchestra got large enough they couldn’t stay together if they didn’t have a conductor. You can do Mozart without a conductor, but when you get up to Brahms you need a conductor to coordinate the music. When you are playing in the orchestra you can’t get the whole picture.  For example, if you are sitting in the back playing the French horn you can’t really tell the balances in the front. The conductor has the best vantage point.  He has to work on balances and orchestrate the timing. The conductor is the conscience and must do whatever it takes to pull the music out of the players.”

In a way, Adron shattered my notion of what a conductor is like. I thought he’d be stuffy and unapproachable. On the contrary, spending part of an evening with him was like laughing it up with an old friend. I think we’re fortunate indeed to have him in our orbit.

Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.

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