Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony Newsletter
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Meet a Musician
Debbie Brooks, Cello

What instrument do you play?
Currently, part-time section cello.  I have wandered from section to Associate Principal and back to the section since 1976.

How old were you when you started playing your instrument? 
Started piano at age 5 and cello at age 11.

Abilene, TX

BM and MM from UNT in Denton

I have 3 children, 3 grandchildren, and 2 “runaway” dogs named Bonnie and Clyde.  My mother just relocated from Abilene and is enjoying attending concerts.  My mother grew up in Fort Worth, so I’ve been connected here my entire life.

In a few words or sentences, how would you describe yourself?
Besides performing with the FWSO, I play the national Broadway tours that come through the area and contract orchestra and ensembles for many events in the DFW area.  I own 2 businesses, the contracting one and a percentage of a start-up one with a social-media/gaming platform.  So, versatile, diversified, and entrepreneurial are ways to describe me.  And there’s nothing more rewarding than giving back and helping others.

Fun fact  
My parents drove me to Brownwood, TX, while I was in high school to hear the FWSO for the 1st time.  The rest is history!
Victory Over Violence
Running for a Cause

Spring marks race season, so many of the orchestra musicians put on their running and walking shoes to take part in various 5k events to support different, usually local, worthy causes. In March, we supported the Martin High School Band at their 5k event which was to raise money for their upcoming performance at Carnegie Hall. On April 9th, there will be a group of us at the 20th Annual Victory Over Violence 5k supporting The Women’s Center of Tarrant County. The Center does extraordinary work serving over 100,000 men, women and children yearly. They provide rape crisis and victim services, violence prevention and education, employment programs as well as counselling services, empowering their clients to overcome violence, crisis, and poverty.

The musicians of the FWSO have a long history of supporting this organization. Years ago, former FWSO President, Ann Koonsman introduced the mission of the Women's Center to some musicians and Symphony League members through a presentation at her home. This organization was chosen because we wanted to find a cause which everyone in the orchestra could get behind, and give back to our wonderful community.

Pictured top left: A group of FWSO musicians before starting the Martin HS Band 5k in March 2016. Bottom Left: FWSO musicians and staff getting ready for the Victory Over Violence 5k in 2014.

This article was written by violinists Tatyana Dyer Smith and Janine Geisel.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Miguel Harth-Bedoya's Zero Waste Initiative

You already know Maestro Miguel Harth-Bedoya as a world-renowned conductor, but what you might not know is that he is passionate about saving the environment, one plastic bottle at a time.  He brought his vision to the FWSO in February of this year. 

In February, Miguel invited the musicians to lunch, where he proposed that the FWSO become the first orchestra in the country to produce zero waste. Additionally, he has initiated the same programs with the Ft. Worth Youth Orchestra and University Little League Baseball, and has also been hard at work generating interest in exploring similar ideas with the city of Fort Worth.

While we enjoyed the wraps, apples, and filtered water that Miguel provided, he ran-through his TED Talk presentation, which you can look for in the near future. The slogan, "reduce, reuse, and recycle" gives a hint at what was presented. 

To demonstrate the three "R's", Miguel brought bamboo toothbrushes, reusable take-out food containers, washable sandwich bags, cloth grocery bags, as well as cups, plates and cutlery which are compostable. My favorite was the five gallon bucket with an air-tight screw top lid that holds organic matter for composting. So far, Miguel has provided fifteen musicians with buckets. They hold around 25 pounds, and when full are collected and go to a commercial composting facility.

So, how does the FWSO become a zero waste organization? Miguel has placed recycling bins for plastic, paper, paper towels and organic waste throughout the offices and Bass Hall. We even have bins that travel with us when we perform outside of Bass Hall!

Pictured Above: The first group of musicians receive their compost buckets. 

This article was written by Jeffery Hall, double bass.

Audience Spotlight
Rainer and Conny Herkenrath

Rainer and Conny Herkenrath have attended Fort Worth Symphony concerts since 2000. They are originally from Germany and have attended operas and concerts in Germany, Austria, Australia, Argentina, Dallas, Santa Fe, New York, Tanglewood, and many other locations.

The Herkenraths live 50 miles away in the north Dallas area and drive 1 to 1 1/2 hours each way to hear the FWSO. They tell us that their motivation is "an amazing orchestra and equally amazing conductor. We also love the variety, from Bach to Broadway, Johann Strauss to Richard Wagner, there is simply something for everyone."

What they love about Fort Worth is that the downtown has so much to offer. "When we have visitors from Germany the Stockyards are a must!"

They share some personal thoughts: "Over the years we have met a lot of people and it's always great to visit before concerts and at intermission. One thing we would LOVE to see, and have heard from others, is to have a dinner offered before the concert. It would be such a lovely way to start a wonderful evening." 

This audience spotlight was written by cellist Karen Hall.
Harmony in the Kitchen 

Primal Brownies
Aleksandra Holowka, Violist

Violist Aleksandra (Ola) Holowka and her family work hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Ola belongs to a long distance running group, and at home the family avoids starches and refined sugars in their diet. These brownies are a favorite recipe for a sweet, healthy, chocolaty treat.

From the Primal Blueprint Cookbook by Mark Sisson, with Jennifer Miller.


1 ¾ cup walnut meal (purchased or ground in a food processor)
¾ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 cup coconut milk (room temperature)
½ cup honey or maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil (gently melted)
¼ cup chopped walnuts for topping (opt.)
Butter for greasing pan

Makes 18 2x3 inch brownies.

Adjust oven rack to middle position.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Butter a 13x9x2 inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients until well blended. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs for one minute, then add coconut milk, honey or maple syrup and whisk again. Add melted coconut oil and whisk until wet ingredients are completely blended.

Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and whisk well; be sure to scrape sides and bowl bottom so no pockets of dry ingredient remain. Batter will be thinner consistency than conventional brownies. Pour batter into prepared pans.

If desired, sprinkle chopped walnuts on top of batter. Bake 35 – 40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

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 additional musicians who performed with us this month! 
Copyright © 2016 Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony, All rights reserved.

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