By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal
Only one city other than Dallas can lay claim to having the Dallas Symphony Orchestra a short drive away.
But a few times every year, the prestigious orchestra, along with Grammy Award-winning conductors such as Richard Kaufman and Jaap van Zweden, comes to Greenville to perform.
It is this unique opportunity that Bill Rolston, president of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra of Greenville Board of Directors, said is another reason to support the symphony.
“We’re the only venue that they’ve been to other than the Meyerson Symphony Hall,” he said. “It’s something that’s so unique and such an important orchestra, that the residents of Greenville should be very proud.”
This year marks the 40th year the Dallas Symphony Series has come and performed at the Greenville Municipal Auditorium, and Rolston said the orchestra has spared no expense through the years they have entertained residents of Hunt County.
With 90 instruments, Rolston said the DSO brings “their whole orchestra” with them to Greenville.
According to Rolston, the way the auditorium was built enhances the acoustic performances for an orchestra, something which the DSO is grateful for.
“They appreciate it very much,” he said.
Another thing that makes this series unique is that it has two special concerts for students to come and learn from some of the best performers in the world.
“One of the things the symphony has always done is play youth concerts,” he said. “They bring students from all the schools in Hunt County and you’ll see school busses lined up down Washington as far as you can see.”
Rolston said considering how little attention is payed to the arts today, he is grateful to have them come to educate Hunt County students.
“We’re in an environment right now that the arts do not get near the attention they did in the past,” he said, adding that more than 3,000 students show up to the concerts each year. “We’re really proud we can bring classical music to Hunt County; especially to the students. That’s a lot of students.”
In recent years, Rolston said the DSO Greenville has made a push toward getting more youths involved in the series.
“One of our goals is to bring more of the middle generations here,” he said, adding that they are attempting to make their presence known more through social media to gain the attention of the younger crowds.
The DSO Greenville is supported through the Greenville Tourism Board, through contributions and patrons of the series, and through the F.L. Young Foundation.
“Dr. Young was especially interested with bringing music to the students of Greenville,” he said.
Rolston said they are vital for the continuation of the series in Greenville.
Conductor Richard Kaufman has been coming to Greenville for many years.
“He came and he became a barbecue fan at the Spare Rib,” he said. “He was very good friends with Dewey Fitzpatrick.”
Kaufman is a lifelong fan of films, and it shows through his conducting. This year’s performance on Jan. 31 is “Celebrating John Williams” and features favorites from “E.T.” and “Jurassic Park" to “Jaws” and the famous “Imperial Death March” from “Star Wars.”
Being able to have 2012 Musical America’s Conductor of the Year Award winner Jaap Van Zweden to conduct in Greenville for the second time in three years is something Rolston said he can hang his hat on.
“He’s heavily recruited as a guest conductor throughout the world,” he said. “The fact that he comes to play at one of our concerts each year is significant, and we’re extremely proud of that.”
Students at Texas A&M University-Commerce will receive a special $20 rate for two shows during the semester.
For more information on tickets and dates for the 2014 series, visit www.dallassymphonyingreenville.com