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Artistic venue to feature concert of Beethoven's works

Oct. 28, 2005

by JIM RAY, reporter

Waco Symphony Orchestra members may not have Beethoven himself, but they have his bait.

"Sunday Sounds," a music series presented by the Waco Symphony Orchestra, begins its season at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Carleen Bright Arboretum's Whitehall Center.

Audiences will hear Ludwig von Beethoven's "A Sunday Septet," which program chairman Richard Shanley described as the incentive Beethoven would use for luring audiences to premieres of his newer work.

"It is one of the very best and most popular of Beethoven's pieces," he said.

Henry Chan | Lariat staff
The outdoor seating area at the Carleen Bright Arboretum's Whitehall Center is where the Waco Symphony Orchestra will perform "A Sunday Septet" on Sunday afternoon.
The work principally features the violin, but the ensemble's instruments include viola, cello, string bass, clarinet, French horn and bassoon.

Refreshments provided by the Waco Symphony Association and conversation with symphony members, including Director Steven Heyde, are added to Beethoven's musical incentive.

"Musicians mingle with the audience before and after," marketing director Michael Bracken said.

Shanley said audiences have enjoyed a "great repast" after all the performances of the long-running series, which is always "varied in character," featuring a variety of instrument combinations, music pieces and venues.

Sunday's location, Whitehall Center, is an "excellent environment for something like this," Bracken said.

Karen O' Bric manages the center and the arboretum, an ornamental showcase of woody plants and other types of flora. She said Whitehall has become "a favorite for a lot of our musicians."

The building, an "enhanced replica" of Woodway's first church, sits in the middle of the arboretum featuring 5 acres of formal gardens, she said. Several additional acres of trees with a nature trail lie beyond.

Light will reach the audience and musicians through articulate stained-glass windows, which O' Bric called stunning. Some of the windows are designed with fall in mind, featuring sweeping art nouveau lines that trace the pattern of descending leaves, intricately rendered.

"It has this quaint, not quite of this world feel," O' Bric said.

"Sunday Sounds" began informally in 1982 as a get-together in the homes of symphony and audience members, Shanley said, who has been a performer in the series since its inception.

"It was started to acquaint the symphony-goers with the members of the orchestra," Shanley said.

Originally titled "Waco Symphony Chamber Series," "Sunday Sounds" outgrew houses of smaller patrons and turned to bigger venues.

In 1989, the program became an official part of the Waco Symphony Orchestra.

Participants changed the name to better communicate the informal nature of the series.

"People can wear a sweater and a pair of jeans and relax," Shanley said. "It's a really fun and comfortable thing."

The series features short performances. "People know they're going to get a really good show, and it won't take too long," Shanley said.

Audience members now number 100 on average, making the series popular but keeping it intimate, Shanley said.

Shanley said "Sunday Sounds" has "taken on a small life of its own."

Students get a $5 discount on the $10 ticket price Sunday.

Tickets are available at the door of the arboretum located at 9001 Bosque Blvd.

The series continues with three performances in January and February.