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Classical music finds a home in the Crossroads

By Jessica Rodrigo
Aug. 24, 2013 at 3:24 a.m.

Pianist Faith DeBow performs a variety of pieces, including a sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven and a transcription of a Radiohead song, at the Victoria Bach Festival's Beethoven and Beyond concert at First United Methodist Church. DeBow is the festival's new young artist coordinator as well as a performer.

Classical music has a home in the Crossroads among the longtime country opries and dance halls.

Two organizations, the Victoria Bach Festival and Victoria Symphony, dedicate their efforts to offer classical music lovers events that both stimulate the mind and entertain the family.

The Victoria Bach Festival is known throughout the state and the country for its weeklong schedule of performances by guest musicians and its own Victoria Bach Festival Orchestra.

Nina Di Leo, Victoria Bach Festival executive director, said that although the organization focuses on classical music, it brings more than just music to the community.

"You can hear a single performer making amazing music on the piano, or you can come here and hear 250 people making music together," she said.

Victoria Bach Festival attracts classical music fans from near and far, as well as musicians who perform in larger cities, including Austin and San Antonio.

Musicians include longtime performers and new members who are hand-selected to perform as New Young Artists.

The music organization was founded in 1976 and has played an important role in the community. The performances are often hosted in smaller, more intimate venues, where concertgoers can meet the performers and ask them questions, said Di Leo.

"The musicians really make an effort to connect with the audience members," she said. "They have real connections with people because they've been coming back to Victoria, so there's that special relationship that people share."

Aside from the musical event, usually scheduled in the beginning of June, the Victoria Bach Festival hosts concerts with the Austin-based choral group Conspirare throughout the year with performances in the fall, at Christmas concerts and in the spring.

The Victoria Symphony also hosts performances throughout the year for both young and seasoned classical music lovers.

Michelle Hall, executive director of Victoria Symphony, said the group has become known for providing outstanding concerts with professional musicians and guest artists from around the world as well as educational opportunities that foster music appreciation.

It was founded in 1974 and has continued the tradition of offering programs for a seven-county region as well as including a special emphasis on area youth.

"The Victoria Symphony offers programming for all kinds of music lovers, including a five-concert Master Series, a Halloween concert titled Symphonic Spooktacular and a free outdoor concert in April Downtown Rhythms," she said.

The symphony, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is proud to present some new names to its performances.

Music director Darryl One said the next season signifies a new breakthrough level for the orchestra.

"We will be playing some works never before played by the VSO, but the new thing is that we will be playing several of them in the same program," he said. "What will be most new are combinations of challenging but exciting works performed at levels that rival orchestras much larger and with greater resources."

During the year, the five Master Series Concerts offer a variety of classical genres for concertgoers.

One, who has been with the organization since 1995, said the Victoria Symphony Orchestra has helped add to the cultural level in the community, attract outside businesses to the area, raise the level of area arts and provide unique entertainment for families.

"It provides a unique entertainment option by bringing performances of some of world history's greatest musicals," said One.



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