July 11, 2022: The Symphony and “the Falcon”

The Falcon in scrim shadow: the Reveal for Conductor of the Amarillo Symphony – Globe News Center, July 9, 2022

The title almost sounds like a sequel to a Dashiell Hammett novel and a Bogart movie, but in the case of Amarillo Symphony’s search for a new conductor, it states the denouement of the real drama.

The climax of this plot, or the “Reveal,” took place at the Globe News Center July 9, 2022.

Booth, along with Larry Lang, Executive Director of the Symphony, Terry White, President of the Symphony Board, and Suzanne Wheeler of Mariner Wealth Associates, corporate sponsor of the event, came on stage in front of a drawn curtain and facing some two hundred RSVP’d guests.

Larry Lang welcomed everyone, and noted that there was a group on the other side of the curtain, which members of the audience could hear, but not see. He then introduced Booth, who gave details of the selection process. Terry White then offered the board’s perspective while Suzanne Wheeler spoke of the valued association of her firm with Symphony.

Jeff Booth first distilled the selection process, which, thanks to Covid, took two years and five months. noting that initially the committee received over three hundred applications from around the world! As mentioned consistently in this blog, this cultural capital of the Comancheria has a global reputation.

The committee’s task sounded very much like real work! It first pared the stack of applicants down to fifty, then whittled the number down to a more manageable ten. These were Zoomed, and from this group, three finalists emerged. Each finalist had two tryout concerts, with audience and musician’s input secured after each. Booth emphasized the importance that this data harvesting played in the process.

The final choice was as big a secret as the Manhattan Project, or a Hispanic grandmother’s Mole recipe. The few that knew kept zipped lips and let everyone else speculate. And speculate is what everyone did! All three candidates were world-class, and no one had an opinion that they’d take to the bank.

To ensure secrecy, those few privy to the choice decided on a code name of “Falcon” for the selection, to use when talking about their decision. Smacks of cloak-and-dagger and 007.

Larry Lang then said it was time to meet our new director, the “Falcon.” He said that we might hear reaction from those sitting on the other side of the curtain, as the new conductor showed himself to those behind the curtain.

Try hoots and hollers, with loud clapping and stomping of feet. Then the curtain went up, while on a scrim where the enhanced and magnified profile of the choice was backlit.

The scrim was lifted, and, drum roll, there was George Jackson in the flesh. The audience then joined in the celebrating and there were smiles all around.

A Beatific Appearing George Jackson

In his few comments he noted that many of his colleagues talked about their symphony orchestras in the possessive. He said he would never say that. Then pointing to the audience, he said, “This is your symphony orchestra! This is Amarillo’s symphony orchestra!”

He then conducted an ensemble in playing the first and fourth movements of Dvorak’s Serenade for Winds.

So, a big Amarillo welcome to George Jackson as he hops the pond to make beautiful music of all sorts on the High Plains of Texas. His reputation as a fearless conductor promises a great collaboration.

As he raises our aesthetic bar, we’ll have to work together to teach him to say “ya’ll” and understand American football!

Again, welcome to Amarillo, George! You’ll make it easier than ever to commit to:

Keep Amarillo Artsy!

Keep Austin Weird!

Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!

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