There’s no place like home, even for professional musicians. The Dallas Chamber Symphony’s concert “Tchaikovsky Serenade” on February 11 at Moody Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District is a homecoming for pianist Kyle Orth.
Raised in Richardson, Orth recently moved to McKinney from Boston. “While I am still technically a doctoral student at New England Conservatory in Boston, I recently completed all the coursework and recitals associated with my degree. This allows me to finish my Doctorate of Musical Arts remotely from North Texas, where I have family and friends,” Orth said. “This area is full of wonderful performing and teaching opportunities - it’s known internationally for competitions and organizations such as the Cliburn in Fort Worth and the Dallas Chamber Symphony. For me, it seemed like an ideal place to refocus my energy on performance projects, while having the space to wrap up what remains of my academic work.”
North Texas has always been a supportive community for Orth as he discovered his musical calling. “When I was 15 years old, I won my first concerto competition and performed as a soloist with the Plano Symphony. I’ll never forget the feeling of being on stage with an orchestra for the first time,” Orth said. “Like most pianists, I spent the majority of my time alone in practice rooms, so for me it was a revelation of sound and color to be surrounded by other instruments. I knew it was something I had to do again and was really the pivotal moment at which I began to seriously consider a career in music. Playing with an orchestra (or a chamber ensemble) still holds a special place in my heart, because it reminds me afresh of how magical collaborating with other musicians can be.”
Orth attended Texas Christian University (TCU) on a full tuition scholarship, studying under John Owings. He received several music and academic awards, including the School of Music’s Nordan Young Artist Award. For three years, he served as the President of Hillel, the home of Jewish life at TCU. “I’ve always been proud of my Jewish heritage. It was important for me to form college friendships within the Jewish community, despite the fact that I was attending a school that isn’t particularly known for having many Jewish students. I have to admit, I never envisioned myself serving as any organization’s president prior to my sophomore year. It was a fulfilling and unique opportunity,” Orth said.
Orth has become an advocate for music education in public schools, performing with the Van Cliburn Foundation’s Cliburn in the Classroom. “So many young children are hungry for good music. Music captivates their minds and imaginations, but more often than not, children in the public schools have little or no access to high-quality classical music. I love being part of the Cliburn initiative because it is needed so badly - they bring talented artists and their own grand piano into public schools just so these kids can have an experience with music,” Orth said. “I firmly believe that if children have positive and engaging interactions with classical music at a young age, they’ll be able to appreciate this music throughout their entire life. Our field desperately needs a new generation of concertgoers, and I think it’s amazing to be part of a program that helps ensure that.”
Orth has won first place in more than 21 local, national and international competitions, but performing and winning first place in the Dallas International Piano Competition was pivotal moment in his career. “After I graduated from TCU, I decided to take a year off before pursuing my master’s degree. During that year, I entered and won the Dallas International Piano Competition. It was a thrilling return to competing after a year of recovering from burnout and gave me a much-needed morale boost to get back in the game,” Orth said. “As part of the prize, I had my debut with the Dallas Chamber Symphony during my first semester at New England Conservatory. I flew back to play Mozart’s D minor piano concerto. I remember it being a time of so much change, so much wonder, and so much excitement. Perhaps for these reasons, the concert ended up being one of my more memorable concerto performances.”
Orth will play Franz Waxman’s Goyana Sketches with the Dallas Chamber Symphony on February 11. Waxman is best known for his film compositions, including Bride of Frankenstein, Rebecca, Sunset Boulevard, A Place in the Sun, Stalag 17, Rear Window, Peyton Place, The Nun's Story, and Taras Bulba. He won two Oscars for his work on Sunset Boulevard and A Place in the Sun and his cinematic flair is evident in Goyana Sketches. “Waxman wrote the music to several of my personal favorites, including Rebecca and Rear Window. Many of the melodic ideas and musical gestures in Goyana Sketches are reminiscent of film scores from the Golden Age. These sketches are highly evocative and imaginative, and the string writing in particular could easily be mistaken for something straight out of Hollywood,” Orth said.
Goyana Sketches are inspired by the work of Spanish painter, Francisco Goya. Waxman manages to capture the essence of Goya’s work in music, adding another element of romance to the concert. “Waxman is a bit of a genius at creating musical ‘sketches.’ Each musical sketch presents a brief but visceral image of one of Goya’s paintings, whether it be the sultry seduction emanating from a marquise, or the pious processional of monks recalling a miraculous resurrection from the dead,” Orth said. “In addition to specific imagery, Waxman revels in all the musical flavors of Spain.”
Learn More: https://www.dcsymphony.org/