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New Philharmonic Orchestra Honors Area First Responders

Irving—The New Philharmonic Orchestra of Irving (NPOI) performed in Carpenter Performance Hall at the Irving Arts Center on Saturday, Feb. 21. Initially scheduled as a Valentine’s Day performance, the orchestra rescheduled because of the severe winter weather.

This show was dedicated to North Texas’s first responders, who received free tickets to the concert: “Connections…sweet melodies.”

The orchestra calls themselves, “new,” even though they have been around for over 30 years. They strive to introduce individuals and families to the experience of hearing symphonic music in an actual concert hall, instead of on the radio or an outside event. They offer, “Sundays at the Symphony” five times a year with low ticket prices to allow as many people as possible to be able to afford to experience the orchestra in its natural habitat.

For this concert, the orchestra partnered up with the Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to offer two free tickets for each first responder who made a reservation. They also offered half-price tickets to the general public.

Many people who attend symphonic performances do not understand the real role of the conductor.

“The music is very alive in the sense that it flows with certain moments,” Conductor Sergio Espinosa said. “There are moments of a certain passion, some moments are calm, some are energetic. Some of them imply changes in rhythm, changes in dynamic. And the person at the center, the conductor, he’s not playing. He’s perceiving.

“One of his roles is to balance, to maintain tempos, to change tempos. Let’s say the flautist is playing so passionately because it’s her solo, but she’s forgetting that the cellos are accompanying her. I’m the one in between saying, ‘Wait a second. Let us wait for the cellos.’ Basically it’s, very simplified, it’s kind of like a traffic policeman. Of course, there’s more than that, but basically that’s it. I say, ‘Let’s go faster. Let’s go slower. Let’s go louder. Let’s go soft.’”

One of the classes he teaches in his position as a strings education specialist in the Department of Music at UTA is called, “Baton Technique.”

“We have signs that [are] called ‘Baton Technique.’ There are signs that are kind of internationally established for conductors, so certain signs mean louder and certain signs mean softer, and the like,” Espinosa said.

As for performing a concert in sections, Espinosa said it is necessary to follow the Art Center’s protocol.

“We have to present the music in sections,” Espinosa said. “Irving Arts Center is very strict, and I consider that a positive thing. [They have] guidelines of the amount of people you can have at any given time on stage.

“We cannot present the whole orchestra, so we are divided. It could be possible [on this stage], but in the rehearsal hall, it could not be possible. Why risk it when there is so much repertoire for strings; so much repertoire for brass. We are not lacking repertoire.

“For instance, the brass, they were in contact with the strings in only one rehearsal. They don’t get to hear the whole orchestra play together. Again, the guidelines here are very planned and very strict. Once a group finishes, they cannot stay here. They have to go home or wherever, because those are the guidelines,” he said.

The orchestra dedicated their performance to area health workers, police, fire and other first responders. Unfortunately, none of them attended.

“We debated very much about how can we convey [our appreciation] and one of the things we were thinking was maybe they’re just exhausted,” Espinosa said. “We said if we can honor one or two, we can be happy. We are going to do this again when they are not so busy or maybe when we could go to a hospital with permission, and ask the director, ‘Can you give us one hour so that we can play for you?’”

However, the show goes on.

“This season is a different season. We are having people coming. We are trying to offer some sense of a normal life, getting out again,” Espinosa said.