Among the hundreds of Valley Symphony Orchestra concerts this reviewer

has attended, the one Jan. 22 ranks among the most unusual—and best.

If you don’t believe it, you can see, hear and judge for yourself. The

City of McAllen will show it, free, on Cable Channel 12. Just check when and how often it will appear.

How often does the newly-selected president of The University of Texas-Pan American appear on stage to narrate a powerful piece of music?

Dr. Robert Nelsen, the new, eighth, president of the University of Texas-Pan American, majestically narrated “Lincoln Portrait,” written by Aaron Copland.

The symphony was proud to help introduce Dr. Nelsen to the community. Very few college presidents appear onstage and perform, backed by a fine symphony orchestra. He earned one of the evening’s many ovations.

Dr. Peter Dabrowski, musical director and conductor, delighted the near-capacity audience at the McAllen Civic Center Auditorium. He started with a serious “Outdoor Overture,” performed by the South Texas Youth Symphony, a group he has been working with for eight years.

This writer found himself sitting in the front row of the 1,776 seat auditorium, for the first time in all these years. Yet, it was an eye (as well as ear) opener that made every face and motion crystal-clear. Try it sometime.

In addition to performances of classic favorites, Kurt Martinez, guitar, and Audrey Folk, ballet, helped create a special performance of “Cavatina” from the “Deer Hunter” soundtrack.

Award winning UTPA Mariachi Aztlan, with Francisco Loera as director, performed “La Bikina,” a beautiful mariachi classic, with the symphony.

Then Ballet Folklorico UTPA, directed by Francisco Munoz III, performed some Texan steps as cowgirls and cowboys to the tune of “Magnificent Seven.” Their high kicks lookedas if they could grace any stage.

The award for funniest performance goes to Phil Johnson, Terry Shingler and Sonny Rosa as they clowned around during their performance of Leroy Anderson’s “Sandpaper Ballet.”

It was an entertaining evening for everyone in attendance. Don’t forget to see it for free on McAllen Cable Channel 12. I predict if you see the concert on television, you will be purchasing tickets for a live concert, the best way to experience the symphony.

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