In Tune

Dr. Peter Dabrowski announces the concerts for the Valley Symphony Orchestra's 2019-20 season Aug. 27 at the McAllen Performing Arts Center.

Valley Symphony Orchestra Announces 2019-20 Concerts

Posters for the five concerts for the Valley Symphony Orchestra’s 2019-20 season are displayed Aug. 27 at the McAllen Performing Arts Center.

The Valley Symphony Orchestra has announced its 2019-20 season, and the selections should strike a chord with both regular VSO attendees and newcomers.

The strength of this season — and the longevity of the VSO, which was founded in 1952 as an orchestra of volunteer musicians — should make critics of the Rio Grande Valley and the border region it occupies change their tune, said VSO conductor and music director Dr. Peter Dabrowski.

“We hear a lot of negativities about the border,” he said. “But I would think that our organization, where we are, frankly testifies to the contrary — that life on the border can be very inspiring and rewarding to a lot of people.”

The season for the 80-member orchestra takes place at the McAllen Performing Arts Center. The VSO includes both local musicians and musicians from around the world.

Every concert is carefully curated, from popular, recognizable crowd-pleasers to the uncommon and unexpected. Dabrowski downplayed the process.

“I’m just thinking of myself sitting in the seat, if I’m falling asleep or if I’d say, I love that — I’m going to come back,” he said. “So I’m really basing this on my tastes, and if I’m going to be bored or not.” But there’s nothing boring about this season, he assured attendees at the news conference. “I think that’s quite a high level because I’m very easily bored.”

Sept. 27 marks the opening concert of the new season — the appropriately timed and themed “Back to School: A concert of academic celebration.” The event features renowned pianist Alex Slobodyanik, commencement ceremony stalwart “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1,” and “The Barber of Seville Overture” — perfect for annual back-to-school haircuts, Dabrowski said.

“Who knows? Maybe I will shave my head as well for this,” he joked.

Then, the orchestra plans to intrigue with “James Bond Meets Brahms: Two men of mystery — one incredible concert.” A compilation of popular scores from the James Bond movie franchise will be offset by works by Johannes Brahms, a mysterious figure in his own right. Dabrowski promised to talk more about some of Brahms’ secrets over the course of the Oct. 25 concert.

One of the orchestra’s most popular concerts is “A Touch of Frost,” scheduled for Dec. 13. The VSO Chorale and the Ballet Folklorico from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will also collaborate during this event, which includes holiday traditions like Handel’s “Messiah” and selections from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”

On Feb. 28, 2020, the VSO will ride into the sunset with “Indiana Jones and the Wild West: A musical adventure to the corners of the earth and across the American West.” The orchestra will perform prolific movie score composer John Williams’ work from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Dabrowski noted a special opportunity to witness a rare concerto for the trumpet during the concert, which will be performed by Jared Broussard.

“Designed by Dabrowski: the VSO Season Finale Event” caps the performances on March 27, 2020. Each of the pieces that will be performed at this event have been handpicked by Dabrowski, who is celebrating 19 seasons conducting the VSO. Violinist Geoffrey Wong will be featured in “La Campanella” by Niccolò Paganini.

Single tickets start at $25, and subscriptions start at $170. After Labor Day, the VSO will be releasing a three-concert subscription bundle. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

Learn more about the Valley Symphony Orchestra by visiting