If you attend the fall concert of the Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, you might want to bring a tissue.

“When the full ensemble plays ‘Enigma Variations’ (by Edward Elgar), you will cry. It is so beautiful,” Conductor Susan Harvey said.

Youth symphony members, ranging from fourth-graders to 12th-graders, will perform 3 p.m. Sunday in Akin Auditorium on the Midwestern State University campus.

Three YSO musical groups will perform, including the 55-member symphonic orchestra, the 15-student philharmonic and the 27-member Strolling Strings. The latter two groups are conducted by Gina Menden.

The symphonic is the advanced group and features all of the strings (violin, viola, cello and string bass) plus woodwinds, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, French horn, tuba, piano, trombone and percussion.

The group will play the latter half of the concert beginning with the famous introduction from “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss, or what many know as the dramatic opening of director Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

The orchestra continues with movies, performing “It Had Better Be Tonight” by Henry Mancini, taken from “The Pink Panther” — not to be confused with the “Pink Panther” theme song, Harvey said.

“This is a samba and a great way to introduce students to play a different style of music as well as learning repertoire from a famous American composer.”

None of the students are old enough to know Mancini, she said.

“We did a rehearsal where I showed them a video clip of the song being performed in the movie. It’s a challenging piece because it’s a different style, and there’s lots of double stops for the strings players. It’s a great skill.”

The Elgar work follows, and then the closing music, which is more than 6 minutes in length, called “Wilderness,” by composer Tim Shackleton.

“It’s based on the travels of Lewis and Clark, and you will hear some majestic themes, some apprehensive places where you can imagine they’re traveling across the land and they don’t know how to cross a river.”

The afternoon concert opens with the Strolling Strings performing “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry and “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” by Elvis Presley. Both pieces are arranged by student musicians, said Menden.

“We have a number of very creative students.”

The Presley song was arranged by her and her eighth-grade cellist daughter, Ariana.

The 15-student philharmonic will perform “Silhouettes” by Alan Lee Silva, featuring violin soloist Jun Park, and an energetic piece titled “Storm” by Soon Hee Newbold. The philharmonic is made up of violins, violas, cellos and a string bass. The group incudes a string bass this year after not having one in 2015.

“It’s almost an entirely new group. We have a lot of our kids get promoted to our full orchestra because they are advancing so quickly,” Menden said.
Students come from as far as two hours away to perform in the ensemble, which rehearses Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m.

Harvey said about 10 of her student musicians graduated from high school and symphonic orchestra at the end of the 2015-16 school year.

“I probably have more younger students in this group than I have had in a while. Gina has taught many of them in the philharmonic, and they’re coming in with a lot of good fundamental skills.”

Harvey puts together music each summer, listening to about 180 hours of “traditional orchestra music, new recordings, new releases, arrangements of pieces that may not yet be accessible by the students.”

She selects the pieces based on the strengths of her musicians.

“This year, I knew I wanted to challenge the low brass (trombones and tuba), because I knew I had some outstanding players. I looked for music that paid more attention to them, and I wanted to do the same with percussionists because both were returning and they’re outstanding.”

She wants music that challenges all of her musicians and gives them an opportunity to develop.

“It’s a fun concert. It’s educational, and it’s challenging for every student in every section. They are more than ready to perform, and it’s going to be outstanding. It’s an excellent mix of kids.

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