Hundreds gathered Saturday evening at Bergfeld Park in Tyler to listen to sounds from the East Texas Symphony Orchestra at its second annual Symphony in the Park concert.
The orchestra performed an assortment of classical music, film scores and Broadway favorites — including “Maria” from “West Side Story” as well as a tribute to Elvis Presley — that had the audience clapping as they stood up.
Richard Lee, orchestra conductor for the ETSO, said it is normal to feel tired, sweaty and in need of a shower after one hour of conducting live music.
“When you perform for an audience, it’s easy to forget how tired you are because they appreciate so much what you do,” Lee said. “Listening to the claps and loud yells really keeps us motivated to play our best.”
Even though it takes time for organizers to get venue permits, coordinate expenses and deal with logistics, Lee said it takes only a few hours before the show to get the musicians together and rehearse the songs for the performance.
Being an orchestra conductor takes a lot of preparation and a huge knowledge of various music genres that can blend well with what the audience is expecting, Lee said.
Gonzalo Egaña, a board member who attended Saturday’s concert, said one of the songs he enjoyed the most was a James Bond theme that took him back to his childhood in Venezuela when he would watch the movies with his mother.
“The most important part of the programming is making sure there is a really big variety,” Lee said.
Egaña, who has been a donor for the orchestra for a couple of years now, said it is “a blessing to have Lee as the orchestra’s conductor.”
“(Lee) is so talented that it is impressive how he can perform classic or rock ‘n’ roll music and transform it,” he said.
When asked about how it felt to see hundreds of people turn out for an hour of classical music, Egaña said he was impressed as it was the largest turnout for a symphony concert in Tyler, he said.
Such events help the community as it is a way in which people from all ages can come together to enjoy music, Egaña said.
ETSO Executive Director Robin Hampton said seeing a huge turnout motivates the symphony to continue holding the concert in the park around this date every year.
Hampton said people can expect more concerts in the coming months, as it is a way to give back to the Tyler community.
“Bringing amazing symphonic music with professional musicians is a gift we are giving our community, and we are really glad we can serve that way,” Hampton said. “We will keep doing this as long as we possibly can.”
ETSO’s 2022-23 concert season kicks off Nov. 12, featuring a lineup of five unique concerts with special guests:
Nov. 12 — Opening Night with Yoav Talmi
Jan. 28 — Buster Keaton’s ‘The General’
Feb. 25 — Dance with the Viola
March 25 — Tribute to Boston Pops
May 13 — Haydn’s ‘The Creation’
For more information about the East Texas Symphony Orchestra or to purchase tickets for the upcoming season, visit etso.org or call 903-526-3876.