Historical and Musical Highlights of Each Season
2001-2002 Season – The Symphony of the Hills Association, Inc. was incorporated as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt entity to govern and manage a new professional orchestra formed to succeed the Schreiner University Community Orchestra. The Board of Directors hired Dr. Jay Dunnahoo to be the Conductor and Artistic Director. The highlight of the season was Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.
2002-2003 Season – Long Zhou was hired as Concertmaster. His daughter Nancy, a 7-year-old violin prodigy, delivered a brilliant and stunning violin solo performance. Soloist Dr. Donald Crandall played Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue to major acclaim. The Symphony moved into the newly remodeled 834 seat Cailloux Theater for the Performing Arts in downtown Kerrville. The concert started with the Star Spangled Banner, which began a tradition that continues today.
2003-2004 Season – The orchestra performed Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Grieg’s Piano Concerto was performed by Rick Rowley.
2004-2005 Season – Subscriptions for the concert season continued to grow. The Mission Statement of the Symphony was adopted and implemented by beginning to perform two free concerts especially designed for 3rd and 4th grade students from Kerrville and surrounding area schools. These free Children’s Concerts have become an integral part of each season.
2005-2006 Season – Peter and the Wolf was performed for the Children’s Concerts for the first time with an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from the children attending the concerts.
2006-2007 Season – Continuing success with the concert season in Kerrville lead to an attempt to expand to neighboring towns, with little success. As a result, the Symphony incurred a notable financial loss. Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto was brilliantly performed by Dr. Don Crandall. The audience was greatly impressed with a solo cello performance by Audri Vernier playing Elgar’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. The Grand Symphony Chorus performed with the orchestra for the first time and became a part of each concert season. The new succinct Mission Statement was adopted by the Board.
2007-2008 Season – This season included the first Rising Stars concert featuring Hill Country Youth Orchestra and Schreiner University music students. Performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the orchestra, local soloist Dr. Sabrina Adrian thrilled concert attendees. Acclaimed cellist Kenneth Freudigman performed Saint-Saens’ Cello Concerto No. 1 with the orchestra. The new Symphony logo and banner were adopted.
2008-2009 Season – The orchestra added a “Pops” concert to its season for the first time. It featured the Cowboy Singer, Don Edwards. Dr. Donald Crandall was featured performing Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Paganini. The Board opted to repeat the orchestra’s usual Thursday night performance on Sunday afternoon in an attempt to satisfy the overwhelming demand.
2009-2010 Season – Tenor Don Braswell, a runner-up in America’s Got Talent, was featured in this season’s first concert. The New Orleans’ Preservation Hall jazz band performed in the Pops concert to a packed house, and Nancy Zhou, our young violin prodigy, played Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 to a standing ovation. However, a financial setback was experienced from a combination of the Great Recession, reduced patron donations, and lower subscription levels.
2010-2011 Season – The Board returned to having one Thursday night performance. New York’s Singing Policeman, Daniel Rodriguez, opened the season singing with the Orchestra. The Symphony participated in an innovative approach of partnering with the Hill Country Youth orchestra and Playhouse 2000 in which each organization promoted one concert, with the profits split three ways. Neither attendance nor profits achieved the anticipated results. The Flash Cadillac Band performed with the orchestra in an attempt to regain the financial stability lost the two previous seasons.
2011-2012 Season – The Orchestra performed Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D Minor, and with Kevin McCormick on guitar, played several interesting pieces for guitar and orchestra, including one of his own compositions. Due to the enthusiasm generated by musician interaction with the student audience immediately prior to the Children’s Concerts, a Children’s Outreach program was started in the local schools. Prior to each Children’s Concert, lesson plans about the music were furnished by the Symphony to the teachers and in-school presentations of music and musicianship by orchestra musicians began. A very popular Painted Violin fund raising program, with local artists decorating violins that were exhibited locally and then sold at auction, enabled the Symphony to “turn the corner financially.” Professional marketing skills and free pre-concert “wine and cheese” receptions in the theater lobby brought increased attendance.
2012-2013 Season – Orchestral highlights included the performance of Holst’s The Planets as well as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The New Buddy Holly band made a surprise appearance at the Pops Concert. Strategic planning lead to a focus on the 4 “M’s” of Music, Member Services, Marketing, and Money, “plus 1” for Management Support. Recognizing his considerable talent, the internationally renowned Shenzhen (China) Philharmonic Orchestra recruited Concertmaster Long Zhou for the same position with their orchestra.
2013-2014 Season – Dr. Gene Dowdy was employed as Associate Conductor and Dr. Daniel Kobialka as Concertmaster. The Season’s orchestral highlight was Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. Now an internationally known soloist, Nancy Zhou thrilled the audience with O’Conner’s Call of the Mockingbird. The Children’s Outreach continued to expand into more schools and both a violinist and a cellist from the orchestra performed in the schools. The Symphony ended the season with a modest cash reserve.
2014-2015 Season – The orchestral highlights included Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 – The Romantic, Tchaikovsky’s Overture to Romeo and Juliet, and Respighi’s Pines of Rome. There was a full house for Concert V, Bach and His Disciples, with Dr. Dunnahoo conducting. The Symphony’s Children’s Outreach increased in content and reach for the fourth consecutive year. Foundation Grants and Business Sponsorships contributed to the Symphony’s financial sustainability. At the conclusion of Concert V, Symphony President Tim Summerlin recognized Dr. Dunnahoo’s many contributions and his move to Conductor Emeritus. He also announced Dr. Dowdy as the new Conductor and Artistic Director.
2015-2016 Season – Kicked-off on April 14th at Tucker Hall following a Symphony-sponsored “First Friday Wine Share” three days earlier. Dr Gene Dowdy, Conductor, and the Symphony Music Team put together 5 great programs for the season. The Symphony Orchestra beautifully delivered both familiar and new music, as well as timeless classics. Soloists brought special talents to every concert. Three concerts were 100% sell-outs.
Two Children’s Concerts packed the Cailloux Theater to capacity. The in-school experience was expanded, and more than 1600 third and fourth graders attended the free performances. KISD Functional Living Units students participated for the first time and marveled at the music.
2016-2017 Season – Maestro Dowdy’s second season was marked by a rousing opening concert featuring Dr. Donald Crandall as soloist on Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto. The elementary students enthusiastically enjoyed their concert. The Grand Chorus joined the orchestra in December for Christmas favorites, and January’s Pops Concert featured Broadway melodies from “My Fair Lady” to “The Lion King.” February’s “Invitation to the Dance” offered everything from the gigue to the waltz to a pavane and a hoedown. The season was capped with a “Mostly Mozart” concert that demonstrated once more his astonishing musical diversity. This season, the symphony achieved some of its highest attendance records. Patrons were invited to observe a portion of the final pre-concert rehearsal leading up to the season, and that experience proved attractive to many.