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Woodlands Symphony to perform Mussorgsky, Gershwin, and Ravel at May 5 Concert

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It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words—or in the case of Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” tens of thousands of musical notes! The Woodlands Symphony Orchestra (WSO) will perform Mussorgsky’s most-beloved composition in time for its 150th anniversary, along with George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero.” The concert will take place at 6 p.m. on May 5 at Christ Church Methodist, 6363 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, TX. Tickets are available for purchase on The Woodlands Symphony Orchestra’s website at

“This concert was curated to represent a trio of iconic classical repertoire with both the audience and musicians’ fascinations in mind,” said WSO Artistic Director Darryl Bayer. “There is a reason this music has withstood the test of time to be cherished by generations. On May 5 the WSO will bring these compositions to life again with the orchestra’s acclaimed style and musicality.”

Mihai Vatca and WSO Artistic Director Darryl Bayer; Photo Credit: WSO

The WSO will be under the baton of guest conductor Kirk Wilke. Wilke is currently the orchestra conductor of the Lone Star College Symphony Orchestra (CyFair), and previously was music director of the Washington Symphony Orchestra (D.C.) and the Rappahannock Pops Orchestra (Va.). Also returning to the stage for “Rhapsody in Blue” is international concert pianist – and Woodlands resident – Mihai Vatca. Born in Romania, Vatca is currently adjunct professor of piano at Sam Houston State University and serves as pianist at Christ Church United Methodist in The Woodlands.

“This is a concert that will demonstrate the true power and musicality of your Woodlands Orchestra,” Bayer added. “I love how all our players are featured in a soloistic manner and the audience is introduced to each unique timbre throughout the program.”

Originally composed in 1874 as a piano suite in ten movements, “Pictures at an Exhibition” is a musical tour of paintings by Viktor Hartmann. While public reception to Mussorgsky’s original piano version was mixed, “Pictures at an Exhibition” received widespread recognition after the orchestral arrangement by French composer Maurice Ravel. The WSO will perform this popular and well-recognized arrangement enhanced with visual artwork on widescreen projectors.

Mihai Vatca performing with WSO; Photo Credit: WSO

Perhaps no piece represents the quintessential American sound and spirit as much as George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Featured in United Airlines’ advertisements since 1980, “Rhapsody in Blue” captures the energy and vibrancy of New York City back in the Roaring Twenties and has come to define the Jazz Age of American music.

Rounding out the program is Ravel’s masterpiece “Bolero,” which was composed in 1928 as a commission from Russian dancer Ida Rubinstein. A “bolero” is a style of slow-tempo Latin music often accompanied with dance. Ravel’s captivating work begins with a snare drum solo playing a repetitive rhythm that persists throughout the piece as other instruments gradually join with a simple melody. The result is an orchestral crescendo that creates a mesmerizing listening experience.

Now celebrating their tenth season, WSO performs yearly at multiple venues from The Woodlands Pavilion to The Woodlands “Arts in the Park” events to churches, colleges, and art galleries. The orchestra also performs annual Christmas concerts and has collaborated with The Woodlands Chorale for sold-out performances of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah.” Comprised of professional players, dedicated music teachers, highly skilled community musicians, and university talent, WSO features musicians that live, work, and play in The Woodlands area. The Woodlands Symphony is grateful for the support of their audiences and the ongoing assistance they receive each year from Howard Hughes, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands Township and the team of Mitby Law.

For more information on the WSO and the upcoming “Pictures at an Exhibition” concert, visit the

Photo Credit: WSO

Established in 2013, the Woodlands Symphony Orchestra (WSO) is made up of professional musicians, amateur enthusiasts, and rising stars from The Woodlands Area Youth Symphony (WAYS). Led by the passion of Artistic Director Darryl Bayer, the organization endeavors to celebrate Woodlands community musicians; inspire and develop young talent; and design “outside the box” concerts that are entertaining and educational. WSO relies on donations from the community and sponsors to cover the costs of concerts. To learn more about WSO and to donate, visit or follow us on Facebook.