Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony Newsletter
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Keller Independent School District
Teaching a New Generation
 By Joni Baczewski, Violist

Joni Baczewski, FWSO violist, is the Director for the Keller ISD Strings Program, which is now in its second year and is the newest member in the Fine Arts department in that community. She also serves as the Advanced Orchestra Director. The program has about 325 students and includes three orchestras and a violin program for grades two through four. Placement for the advanced and intermediate orchestras is made by audition. Beginning students in grades five and up can join the beginning orchestra to learn to read music and to get orchestral experience. Students moving from the Young Violinist program into fifth grade can choose to try a different string instrument or stay with the violin.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to oversee this wonderful program from the beginning young student to the senior in high school. Our goal next year is to introduce this program into the school day for fifth and sixth graders, then keep adding until strings programs are finally incorporated into the high schools.Thanks to David Wright – Keller ISD Fine Arts Coordinator, and Kim Blann – Director of Fine Arts, for listening to the public of Keller for the need of a string department in the school district.

In 2015, Keller ISD was a recipient of the Best Communities for Education. It’s based on many criteria, one of which is orchestra participation. The Fine Arts make a difference in all of our lives. We feel that the string program is the next step in completing the education our kids need to grow into young and brilliant adults. To help students learn and create through music is very important for the health of our existence. String music is one of the viable sources that I hold to be the most important for the brain, the control of large and small motor movements, the understanding of “being centered”, and to learn far more than just notes on a page. Being part of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra as a violist for forty years has taught me that music has to be a part of everyone’s lives in some way. As a member of the orchestra, I can say that our audiences are worth all the gold in the world. If I can instill in my students in Keller how important it is to learn music and to show others what they have learned, then I have done my job.

I’m pleased to have the following musicians on the Keller Strings Team:

Intermediate Orchestra Director, Chi Oh
Director of the Young Violinist Program and Beginning Orchestra Director, Michelle Crosby
Young Violinist Instructors, Chi Oh, Peggy Harrison, Michelle Crosby, Imelda Tecson, and Maria Saenz."

Meet a Musician
Jake Fridkis, Principal Flute

How old were you when you started playing your instrument?
I was six years old. I wanted to play drums. My dad said it was too loud. I wanted to play trumpet. My dad said it was too loud. Here I am. 

Hopewell, NJ
BA: Cleveland Institute of Music 
MM and AD: Yale School of Music

In a few words or sentences, how would you describe yourself? 
I'm glad I don't play trumpet.
Fun fact 
Ever since moving to Texas, I have become addicted to tacos and topo chico.
As part of Mayor Betsy Price's Week of Compassionate Service, four musicians came together to perform chamber music on January 24 during Broadway Baptist Church's weekly Agape Meal. You can see video from the event here.

Pictured from left to right are violinists Molly Baer and Marilyn d'Auteuil; Dan Freemyer and Judi Glover from Broadway Baptist Church; violist Dmitry Kustanovich; and cellist Louis-Philippe Robillard.
Audience Spotlight
An Interview with Randy Toombs

Randy Toombs has been attending Fort Worth Symphony concerts for 27 years!   Hear what he has to say about his experience with the orchestra.

What do you think are the biggest changes to the Fort Worth Symphony since you first started attending concerts?

Several things: the move from the Convention Center to Bass Hall made a significant difference; the wonderful diversity of music that Miguel has brought; explanations before a piece is played provide insight and background; the appreciation the audience has gained/developed.

What keeps you coming back year after year?

I've always loved symphonic music, whether it was pops or classical - at Bass Hall, the Botanic Gardens or some other venue.  Our orchestra surrounds you with music that can lift your spirit, transform your mood and improve your outlook on life!

Has there been a particularly memorable concert that stands out to you?

I loved the January 8th concert from this season - both Beethoven's Eroica Symphony #3 and the fantastic new pieces by Mason Bates. It was a spectacular concert. I also really loved Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony which you did some time ago.  I have the CD and continue to enjoy your great music. I’m glad to see it's on this spring's schedule again.


Is there a piece that you haven't heard us play that you are hoping will be programmed? Or a favorite piece you really want to hear again?

Not so much a piece, but my wife and I have loved it when you showcase FWSO's members as soloists for the evening.  We are very proud of our symphony and think our musicians do as fine a job as the soloists we import.  We particularly loved Michael Shih's and Jennifer Lucio's programs.


Anything else you'd like to add?

The symphony is our main form of entertainment.  We attend several Concerts in the Gardens, special concerts at Arborlawn and Broadway Baptist, and several operas each year and we appreciate the way the symphony makes such a variety of good music available to us.  We also appreciate the outreach our musicians do through their school programs and support of youth orchestras.  Thank you for enriching our lives and the lives of so many others.


Randy Toombs was interviewed by violinist Kathryn Perry.

Spectrum Chamber Music Series
By Dave Hermann, Violist

Did you know that many members of the Fort Worth Symphony enjoy playing chamber music in their free time?  In chamber music, small groups of two to ten players perform with one instrument on each part.  Each person in the group is a soloist, but the decisions about phrasing, pacing and interpretation are made collectively.  We are constantly and acutely listening and watching each other to create an ideal performance.  Playing chamber music can enhance our orchestral skills, plus it’s an enriching way to get to know our colleagues musically and personally.

The Spectrum Chamber Music Series is one of the most popular series for hearing Fort Worth Symphony musicians performing chamber music. This series is the product of a small group of eight musicians, who created the ensemble in 1986 to perform chamber music.  The founding members of Spectrum Chamber Music include several musicians who are still in the Fort Worth Symphony today: Dave Hermann (viola), Laura Bruton (viola), Scott Jessup (viola), Debbie Brooks (cello) and Shelley Jessup (cello).  Spectrum soon expanded from the core group of eight musicians to become an “umbrella organization” that could present chamber music for an infinite variety of instruments.

Spectrum is the oldest continuously operating series of professional chamber music performances in Fort Worth.  The majority of the performers are members of the Fort Worth Symphony, but Spectrum also features faculty members of local universities and members of other area orchestras and wind ensembles.  Similar to the democratic spirit of chamber music, the performers make the programming choices.  In the 29 years of the series, the range of repertoire has been remarkable: 357 different compositions by 163 different composers have been performed to date.

Currently the Spectrum has 4-6 concerts per year, at First United Methodist Church in downtown Fort Worth and at First Jefferson Unitarian Church, in east Fort Worth.  We hope to see you at an upcoming Spectrum concert; it’s a great opportunity for seeing and hearing musicians up close and in person, plus the musicians and audience members socialize at the reception after the concert.

Upcoming Spectrum concerts:

Monday, February 22
7:00pm First United Methodist Church, 800 5th St., Ft. Worth

Monday, March 14
7:30pm First Jefferson United Universalist Church, 1959 Sandy Lane, Fort Worth

Have you gotten your T-shirt yet? These 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 We are now also selling yard signs with the same design for $10 each.

T-shirts and yard signs will also be for sale at select venues, so stay tuned to our Facebook page to find out when and where we'll be!

Pictured left are Seth McConnell, timpani, and Keira Fullerton, cello. Right, violist Aleksandra Holowka stands behind a yard sign with her daughter, Ella, and neighbors, violist Dan Sigale and Samson. 
Thank you to the many substitute musicians who performed with us this month! 
Harmony in the Kitchen 

This recipe is from Dan Sigale, a member of the viola section. He's known for hosting wonderful parties at his home.
Winter is a great time for casseroles, and this recipe for layered mexican chicken will definitely both fill you up AND warm you up! I freely admit that this is not my original recipe. Believe it or not, I got it from the Weight Watchers website ( have a lot of great recipes, most of which hardly taste like you're giving anything up. Enjoy!
Layered Mexican Chicken
Servings: 12
Preparation Time: 20 min.
Cooking Time: 30 min.
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
               1 spray olive-oil cooking spray
               2 lbs. uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
               30 oz. canned black beans, rinsed and drained
               3 cups fat-free sour cream
               2 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican-style cheese blend               
               8 oz. chopped green chilies (two 4-oz. cans)
               2 tsp. ground cumin               
               1/2 tsp. black pepper
               12 medium corn tortillas, cut into 2-inch strips
               1 cup salsa (optional)
1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a lasagna pan with cooking spray.
2) Place chicken in medium saucepan and fill with enough cold water just to cover chicken. Set pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until chicken is cooked through (about 10 minutes). Drain. When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces.
3) Transfer chicken to a large bowl and add beans, sour cream, 1 cup of shredded cheese, chilies, cumin and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
4) Arrange half of the tortillas in bottom of prepared lasagna pan, overlapping pieces to cover surface. Top tortillas with half the chicken mixture, layer with remaining tortillas and top with remaining chicken mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese.
5) Bake until filling is bubbly and cheese is melted (about 30 minutes). Let stand 5 minutes before slicing into 12 pieces. Serve with salsa on the side, if desired.
Copyright © 2016 Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony, All rights reserved.

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