Skip to main content

Southlake Style

Apex Brings the Music

Mar 06, 2012 09:00AM ● By Mike

On March 8, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) will perform a concert at Southlake’s White’s Chapel United Methodist Church as part of the ongoing Apex Presents Series. The great news is that Apex Arts League and the Dallas Symphony have even more plans for the near future. The DSO is set to perform twice in Southlake as part of the Apex Presents 2012-2013 series, bringing both a pops concert and a classical program to our community.

Thanks in part to a stubborn economic slow down; the orchestra has scheduled a series of “DSO on the Go” concerts where the renowned musicians, regarded as one of the top rated orchestras in the country, will be reaching directly to audiences in the suburbs of Dallas and Fort Worth. Well known for our own love of the arts, Southlake was selected as one of the very first of these special concerts. With this recent partnership and others in the works, the Apex Arts League has been achieving its goal to bring quality artistic talent closer to our homes through high quality professional and community events.

The DSO has reached new artistic heights under Music Director Jaap van Zweden who was recently named Musical America’s “Conductor of the Year.” Regularly performing at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, it was the relationship with the Apex board and the enthusiasm of our arts community that has culminated in a series that will include additional performances this year.

The program in Southlake this Thursday night is set to include Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with DSO principal clarinetist, Gregory Raden. Mr. Raden was appointed principal clarinetist of the DSO in 1999 and reviews have hailed his playing as “flawless, exquisitely phrased, enormously artful adding subtle hints of color and dynamic shading to the music making.”

The second piece will be Symphony No 3 Eroica by Beethoven. According to guest conductor Dr. Phillips these two pieces are true masterpieces. The Mozart work, one of the composers last completed pieces, is one of his greatest concerti. The Beethoven Symphony is a stunning, astonishing, and heroic composition that bridges the gap between the classical and romantic periods.

Before the show we had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Phillips and ask him a few questions about the concert and his role as guest conductor. Dr. Paul Phillips, a native Texan, is music director of Southern Methodist University’s Meadows Symphony Orchestra. He studied at Southern Methodist University (SMU) before moving to Rochester, NY to continue his education at the Eastman School of Music. He returned home to Dallas in 1996 to become Professor of Music at SMU.

We thought this was an exciting and popular selection for a concert in Southlake and asked how music for concerts is selected. Dr. Phillips explained that music selection is a rather complicated and lengthy process involving the artistic staff, Music Director Jaap van Zweden, the guest conductor and soloists.

Discussing the role of the conductor. Phillips said, “Conductors are leaders. We communicate with our eyes and gestures”. Professional orchestras are remarkably sensitive to the maestro’s non-verbal manner.

The conductor, of course, also uses words in leading and directing every aspect of the music making in rehearsals as the orchestra prepares for performance. With an orchestra like the DSO, the process of rehearsal is highly efficient. These are professional musicians who have years of experience making music at the highest level of artistry.

Dr Phillips shared that the unknown part of a conductors’ life is score study. “I study the scores for hours every day. This is the brain work, just me and the score, sitting in a chair.” When asked about his non-music interests, Dr Phillips shared that he is an avid photographer, which makes sense to us. A man with a camera captures light and shape and a maestro shapes sound.

Be prepared for the next time the Dallas Symphony comes to town with these simple tips for classical music enjoyment. LISTEN. According to Dr Phillips, “The music will speak for itself.” Listen to the highs and lows, louds and softs. Listen to tone and emotions communicated, to themes, melodies that are repeated and changed. One doesn’t need to be an expert to appreciate great music but familiarity breeds great understanding. We suggest a listening preview before attending a concert, especially with young ears. This gives you a chance to talk about what you hear. With You Tube, most standard music literature is just a click away!

WATCH. In the concert hall there are many interesting things to see, from the conductor’s gestures and soloist’s movements, to the actions of all the musicians. Even the youngest patron can experience the grandeur of the orchestra and take note of the different sizes and shapes of instruments.

In it’s five-year history, Apex has had a vision to someday have an arts venue in Northeast Tarrant County that they are continuously pursuing. Until then, Apex is pleased to partner with White’s Chapel in using their fabulous sanctuary as a concert hall. We asked Dr Phillips about preparing a concert in a new venue. He said that the orchestra had a short rehearsal at White’s Chapel but “quickly adapts to unfamiliar acoustics, almost on a subconscious level.”

Apex looks forward to the fall when the Dallas Symphony makes a return visit to Southlake. Until then, Apex has other opportunities for our community to experience quality arts events. Their next program is on March 25 at 3:00 at White’s Chapel. The Dallas Opera will be in town for a special performance of “Dr Miracle.” This one act comic opera by French composer Georges Bizet is “a hilarious 1 hour musical story about a young man’s quest to marry his true love, the mayor’s daughter.”

You don’t necessarily have to drive to Dallas or Fort Worth or pay big city ticket prices to enjoy quality arts performances. All Apex programming is family oriented and perfect for introducing children to professional opera and musical theater.

Terri Messing is the Chairman of Apex Arts League, Artist Chair of Art in the Square and a member of the Southlake Arts Council. For more information and advanced notice of Apex events visit