Austin Civic Orchestra /Austin Symphonic Band at their Long Center Debut

~posted by Carmel O’Donovan, KMFA announcer

We’ve known the Austin Civic Orchestra and Austin Symphonic Band for many years, and so it was that on Sunday, November 21st, I had the honor of introducing their performance in the Michael and Susan Dell Hall at the Long Center for the Performing Arts.

Living, as we do, in the Music Capital of the World, it is easy to become a little blasé. We have such a wealth of music styles and veritable multitude of venues. And yet, time after time, I find myself transported by what I hear and see. That Sunday afternoon was another extraordinary event for me. It was truly an afternoon of “firsts,” and I was delighted to enjoy it in the company of KMFA’s General Manager, Joan Kobayashi, along with long-time KMFA supporter, Doug Shands. It was the first combined concert of these two talented ensembles to be held at the Long Center.

I confess that going on stage to make my introduction was a little nerve-wracking, since the Long Center’s auditorium was close to full with an audience comprising close to two thousand. The groups were greeted with a warm welcome, and such was the quality of their performances that it’s hard to believe that both groups are populated with volunteer musicians. They devote hours of their time to practice and rehearsal, and I know that in the build-up to this event, they must have burned the candle at both ends. From a spectator’s position I can testify that it was all worth it. Both groups sounded simply amazing!

It was also the first time a woman had conducted a symphony at the Long Center! That woman was Dr. Lois Ferrari. She is the talented and energetic Music Director of Austin Civic Orchestra. She did not know that she was to be given an award at the end of ACO’s performance. I did! It was a lovely secret to carry and I was delighted when the time came to call her back onto the stage for the presentation. She was thrilled and a little emotional and it was wonderful to be a witness to the warmth of the orchestra toward her.

We also enjoyed the premier performance of the complete work “Spangled Heavens,” written by Donald Grantham. He is the Frank C Erwin Jr. Professor of Composition at U.T., and we had the pleasure of hearing his introduction to his piece. I was sitting next to him during the recital. That was a pretty big first for me – listening to music while sitting next to the man who wrote it was inspirational.


The concert opened with Peter Bay, Music Director and Conductor of the Austin Symphony, conducting the Overture to Verdi’s La Forza del Destino with enthusiam and passion. Jessica Mathaes, Austin Symphony Orchestra’s Concertmaster, performed a movement from Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. Such was the caliber of her execution that the crowd demanded (and got) a peppy encore! There were jewels such as this throughout the performances, and I urge you to be sure to watch out for the next time these groups come together.

(photos courtesy of the ASB website — click here to view many more great pictures from this event!)

~Carmel O’Donovan is a part-time announcer on KMFA 89.5; you can read more about Carmel and all our Music Hosts on our website.

2 thoughts on “Austin Civic Orchestra /Austin Symphonic Band at their Long Center Debut

  1. Here’s another interesting fact: during this same performance, Cheryl Floyd, who is the Head Band Director at Hill Country Middle School, conducted the “Spangled Heavens” piece, thereby technically becoming the second woman to conduct at the Long Center. Pretty cool! 🙂 ~Alison

  2. The ACO flutes really rock! The entire ensemble gave a fine performance, but I especially enjoyed the flute section. Way to go!

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