Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony Newsletter
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New Beginnings
Welcome to the Family

We are thrilled to announce two new additions to our family! Associate Principal Horn player Kelly Cornell and violinist Matt Milewski welcomed baby Coby (pictured above). A few days later, Assistant Principal Cellist Keira Fullerton and her husband Colin Garner, who often joins us on stage as an supplementary violist, welcomed baby Liana (below). Congratulations to both of these beautiful families!
We Have Growth Not Cuts!
By Paul Unger, Double Bass

On December 3, 2016, the Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra ratified a new four-year agreement, ending the strike that began on September 8, 2016. Under the terms of this four year agreement, musicians' wages will remain at current levels for years one and two, with modest weekly pay increases of 2% in year three and 2.5% in year four.

In response to your overwhelming public support, an anonymous donor approached the musicians with a $700,000 gift. This gift compelled management to agree to a progressive deal. This donor, along with your generosity throughout our various campaigns, demonstrates that people in Fort Worth do want to give to keep the music going in our city. The funds are available in the Fort Worth philanthropic establishment to move this orchestra forward.

These past four months have been difficult for all of us, but we all knew that it was time to take a stand for the future of the arts in Fort Worth. Support from you, our families, the people of Fort Worth, and the international community has been overwhelming and humbling.

This is a great victory for Fort Worth and for our children’s futures - but our work needs to continue. We must ensure that there is no place for complacency as we strive for the growth of our organization.

The musicians want to thank all of our supporters -  those of you who signed our Growth Not Cuts Open Letter, wrote to the newspapers, called and wrote to management on our behalf, donated to our GoFundMe campaign, walked the picket lines with us, showed up at our rallies, attended our concerts, and helped us continue to bring music education to the schools. A special thank you goes to Save Our Symphony Fort Worth, whose support has been invaluable these past few months. We also especially want to thank our families, who have stood by us and endured these hard times. We love you all.

We are so excited to be back on the stage of Bass Hall with our wonderful music director, Miguel Harth-Bedoya!

We have achieved the NOT CUTS part, and we will continue to work to ensure real GROWTH for the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is back! Julie Vinsant, double bass, Deborah Mashburn, percussion, and Shelley Jessup, cello, greet audience members in the lobby before the New Year's Eve concert.
Meet a Musician
Dan Sigale, Violist

Where is your hometown?
​I grew up in Skokie, Illinois, a near-north suburb of Chicago.​

When and why did you start playing the viola?
I started playing violin at the age of four. My house was always filled with music, whether it was recordings of Broadway musicals or Vladimir Horowitz playing Chopin, or my older brother playing cello or piano. I knew I wanted to play a string instrument, but I guess I had to be just a little bit different from my brother, so I took up violin.

I switched to viola in high school because my orchestra teacher needed a strong Principal Viola, and I immediately discovered that there were so many more opportunities for me on that instrument. I also fell in love with the sound of the viola--it was a much better fit for me than violin.

Where did you study?
I received my Bachelor of Music degree at DePaul University, my Masters degree at Northwestern University, and did post-Graduate work at University of Notre Dame.​

Favorite pastimes? 
Like most classical musicians (especially violists), I enjoy playing chamber music whenever I have the opportunity. I have been a regular performer on The Spectrum Chamber Music Society series for many years now, and when longtime director Dave Hermann decided to step down from his role, I happily volunteered to help take the reins (along with violinist Kathryn Perry). Unfortunately, the strike took up a lot of the time I would have liked to have spent learning the ropes, but now that we have a contract, I look forward to devoting more time to preserving the legacy Dave has left behind. [Shameless plug: Our next Spectrum concerts are on February 13 and 20--for more information, please check us out on Facebook at "Spectrum Chamber Music Society".]

About a year after I moved to North Texas, I decided that, as cliche as it may sound, I needed to learn how to two-step and line dance.​ I took to it right away, and began traveling to dance conventions all over the country. I have competed and medalled in line dance competitions, and I've even won a local line dance choreography competition.

I am also the captain of a trivia team, mostly made up of FWSO musicians and their spouses, that competes in a weekly trivia night--we even win once in a while! I've run a few 5Ks, and while I wouldn't say they qualify as favorite pastimes, they are good motivators to keep moving, and they're always for good causes.

I have two dogs named Samson and Bundit, and they are both pit mixes (actually, Samson is a "boxedorier").​ I took Bundit to the picket line a few times during our strike, because no one can say no to a three-legged dog. Samson, bless his heart, had to stay home, because he and all his 75 lbs. of muscle just wants to jump on everyone to lick their faces.

What would be your dream job if you were not a musician?
I am a performer at heart, so I guess I could see myself as a stand-up comedian or maybe the host of a radio talk show. The show would have to be on satellite radio, because people who know me would say you never know what will come out of my mouth next.

Anything else you'd like to share?
I have played with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra for over 18 years. The musicians of this orchestra are my family, and Fort Worth is my home. That is why, when I was asked to step in as Chairman of the Negotiating Committee, I knew I needed to ​step up to do my part to help ensure a strong future for our orchestra. I am so proud of my colleagues for the strength and solidarity they showed in the face of extremely difficult circumstances. I believe this is a new and exciting chapter for the FWSO, and the musicians are going to be a huge part of the engine moving this orchestra forward.

Breaking Alumnus News!

We are so proud to share with you the news that David Cooper, our Associate Principal Horn from 2012-2013, has just won the Principal Horn position of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra! This is a truly historic achievement. Huge congratulations, David! Read more about his fantastic journey here.

Pictured above, a packed house for the Baroque Christmas Concert on December 13 at Broadway Baptist Church.

What do Beethoven and Ellis Hall - our January Pops Artist - have in common?

Both artists overcame huge obstacles to their music careers with the loss of their hearing and eyesight, respectively.

Ellis Hall calls himself the “Poster Boy of PPD — Perseverance, Persistence, and Determination”.  A victim of congenital glaucoma, Ellis lost the sight of one eye before he was two.  A native of Georgia, Ellis and his family moved to Boston in order to enroll him in Helen Keller’s Perkins School for the Blind.  Despite the chance that he may lose his sight completely at any moment, Ellis lived life to the fullest.  He found a love for music and learned how to play classical piano, and then focused on rock ’n roll by learning upright bass, electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums.

Sadly, when Ellis was 18, a football injury caused him to lose his sight in his good eye.  Upon learning that he would go blind completely, he began working even harder on his musical training.  He actually started practicing in the dark in order to prepare himself for his future reality.

A 5-octave voice and a mastery of so many instruments has made him a talent who has been a fixture in the R&B, Gospel, and Soul musical scenes for over 30 years.  He was a lead vocal for the California Raisins — a group put together for the national ad campaign int he 1980’s.  He was a member of the renowned band Tower of Power.  He was the last musician that Ray Charles signed to his own label.  He has had the privilege to perform for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Africa; as well as at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the funeral of Helen Keller.  Now, he performs with orchestras all over the country.

“Ray, Motown and Beyond” is a show that is dedicated to the shared musical roots of Ray Charles and his protege.  Ellis likes to say that he takes great tunes like “Georgia On My Mind” and “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Ellis-ize” them.  Or, as his back-up singers like to say — “DE-range” (instead of arrange) — them.  He takes great tunes and makes them all his own, with interesting harmonies, changes in tempo….anything that will give Ellis the opportunity to turn them into new masterpieces all his own.

Please join us to hear and see how the love of music can almost literally “conquer all”.  January 27-29 at Bass Hall in downtown Fort Worth.

This guest artist feature was written by Cara Owens, bassoon.

Pictured left: Jennifer Betz, Molly Baer, Allan Steele, and Dmitry Kustanovich perform a volunteer educational concert for students at Fort Worth Christian School in December. Right, violists Joni Baczewski, Laura Bruton, and Dan Sigale smile for the camera after Laura's solo performance of Telemann's Viola Concerto and White's Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake on December 22.

Although the strike is over, we would still appreciate your help as we move forward. "Support the Musician" T-shirts were beautifully designed by our principal violist Laura Bruton. They are $20 each, adult sizes S-3X, and can be purchased online by emailing orders to us at

Pictured left are Seth McConnell, timpani, and Keira Fullerton, cello. Right, violist Aleksandra Holowka stands behind a yard sign with her daughter, Ela, and neighbors, violist Dan Sigale and Samson. 
Harmony in the Kitchen 

On January 28th, the Chinese New Year will be celebrated world wide. Our concertmaster, Michael Shih, has shared with us a favorite family recipe his wife, Tzu-Ying, prepares.

Tzu-Ying's delicious Pineapple Shrimp

The reason it's special in our family around New Years is because the pronunciation of the word "pineapple" in the Taiwanese Dialect sounds very similar to the word meaning "prosperous", and because the shape of the shrimp of this dish is round, symbolizing the circle of our calendar as each new year begins the circle anew.  So the dish brings a sense of good luck!


20 to 25 Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Canned pineapple (fresh pineapple is great too)
Egg white, corn starch, cooking wine, and salt to marinate shrimp

Sauce to include:
4 to 5 teaspoons of mayonnaise
1 spoon of lemon juice
1 spoon of honey

Begin by marinating all the shrimp in a bowl containing 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of cooking wine.

Add 2 egg whites and 2 teaspoons of corn starch into the bowl and use hands to mix and adhere a light layer of corn starch onto each shrimp.

Mix the prepared portions of mayonnaise, lemon juice and honey to create sauce.

Heat wok with cooking oil.

Fry the marinated shrimp in the wok until golden brown.

Take the shrimp out, drain the oil from the wok, then return the fried shrimp back to the empty wok, stir with sauce and pineapple over high heat for 15-20 seconds until ready.

Optional: lightly spread white sesame seeds over the shrimp at plating.
Bon appetite!
Thank you to the many additional musicians who
performed with us this month! 
Copyright © 2017 Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony, All rights reserved.

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