History of the Plainview Symphony Orchestra

The Plainview Symphony Orchestra was formed in the late 1970s when a group of local musicians met with the idea to bring symphonic music to Plainview and the surrounding area. Dale Daniels was the first artistic director for the Symphony, and is remembered as the driving force behind its organization. The name of the group changed to the Symphony of the Llano Estacado for several years during the 1980s. In 1988, the name returned to the Plainview Symphony Orchestra.

During the 34 or so years of the Symphony's life, a few other individuals have led its development. J. W. King, a long-time band director in the area, served as artistic director for many years. Mr. King is fondly remembered in the area for his leadership in the musical arts, as is his wife, Mary Jane King, who served for many years on the Board of Directors. Timothy Kelley, the band director for Wayland University, also helmed the Symphony for several years, including the 25th Anniversary Season in 2003-2004. Kerry Kirk and Kent Akin then served as joint artistic directors, and Mr. Kirk served by himself for several years. Both Mr. Kirk and Mr. Akin were long-time members of the Symphony, playing tuba and percussion, respectively.

Plainview prides itself on being one of the smallest cities in Texas to boast a professional symphony orchestra. The Symphony strives to include performers from the Plainview community with those from Wayland University, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, and other communities across the South Plains. The orchestra depends on support from community donors, which provide the lion's share of the operating budget. In recent years, the increased cost of operating has been offset by grants from Xcel Energy, the James and Eva Mayer Foundation, and the Sybil Harrington Endowment for the Arts. The Plainview Junior Service League and the Plainview Cultural Arts Council are long-time supporters of the Symphony as well.

During the 25th Anniversary Season, the Symphony was awarded a Golden Touch Award by the Committee for the Golden Nail Awards in Amarillo. Members of the Board of Directors have been awarded Plainview's Silver Star Award, given annually by the Cultural Arts Council to recognize community members who have given exemplary service in promoting the arts in the community. Those honored include Vera Wofford and Mary Frank Owen. In the past year, the Board of Directors has recognized several past members with Life Membership on the Board: Mrs. Owen, Mary Jane King, Jean Silverthorne, Nicki Logan, Helen Hogge, and Ann Castleberry.

A long-standing tradition for the Symphony is the annual Kinder Konzert, performed each year, generally at Christmas, for all 4th- and 5th- graders in the Plainview Independent School District. In addition, 4th-graders from surrounding communities are invited to attend. The Kinder Konzert brings the art of symphonic music to children who might not otherwise experience it, and broadens their exposure to the arts. A highlight of the Kinder Konzert is the "petting zoo," where the musicians roam the auditorium and allow the students to see the instruments close-up and to sometimes try to play them.

For many years, Boyce Wyrick has played in and conducted the Plainview Symphony. For the last three, he has been the primary conductor for the group, and he has served the last two in the dual role of conductor and music director, overseeing the development of the Symphony's artistic direction and the selection of music for concerts. The quality of the programming and sound of the Symphony continue, as they always have, to improve every year. In 2010, Mr. Wyrick was named Orchestra Director of the Year by the Texas Orchestra Directors Association.

For the first concert of its 2011-2012 season, the Plainview Symphony again won a Golden Touch Award. This time, the award recognized the Symphony's bringing Plainview native and world-famous opera singer Terry Cook "home" to sing, among other things, selections from Porgy and Bess. Other "big" productions in recent years have included a 2010 staging of the First Movement of Handel's Messiah oratorio, with a community chorus of 125 voices backing the four soloists, and a performance of a Mozart violin concerto featuring another Plainview native, Jennifer Morgan.

In 2012, the Symphony named its first composer in residence, Dr. Gary Belshaw of Wayland Baptist University. The Symphony plans to utilize Dr. Belshaw's talents by commissioning special pieces for performance.

As tastes and demographics change, the Plainview Symphony strives to continue the original mission of the group that met more than three decades ago: to provide the enriching and enlivening experience of symphonic music to Plainview and the South Plains. The Symphony plans to continue to bring local musicians together, as well as visiting artists.

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