Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony to open concert season Sept. 21-22


The Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra will open its 2020-21 season on Sept. 21-22 in at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Douglas Bakenhus is music director of the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra.

The Sept. 21 concert is for NSU students. Admission is free with a current student I.D. Tickets to the Sept. 22 concert are for the general public and are $15. Seating is limited to 72. Masks are required and social distancing should be observed. Symphony season ticket subscribers are encouraged to make reservations by calling (318) 357-4522. Any reservation made and not claimed by 7:20 p.m. the night of the performance will be released. Those wishing to buy tickets at the door are requested to arrive early and be placed on the waiting list. The concert will be livestreamed at

The 2020-21 concert season is titled “Dedication and Remembrance.” The orchestra will remember individuals who had a major influence on the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony and the School of Creative and Performing Arts.

The first concert is dedicated to Pat Thomas, president of the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Society for the 2019-2020 season, who died after a brief illness last March. Thomas was a tireless life-long supporter and leader of the Natchitoches Northwestern Symphony Society as well as many of Natchitoches’s cultural and philanthropic organizations.

The program will open with “Rest” by Frank Ticheli, a composer who was born and grew up in Monroe.

“This piece is dedicated to his friend, conductor of the Pacific Symphony Carl St. Clair, who tragically lost his son in an accident,” said Bakenhus. “A setting of Sara Teasdale’s poem ‘There will be Rest’ this instrumental version sticks to the original setting with an extra expressive ‘development’ section.”

The program includes “The Brook Green Suite” by Gustav Holst, The “Ouverture and Passacaille” from “Armide” by Jean-Baptiste Lully and Haydn’s “Farewell” symphony.

According to Bakenhus, The work by Holst was composed when he was in the hospital the year before he died.

“It takes us to a very beautiful and comfortable place,” said Bakenhus.

The work by Lully is an opera from 1686.

“Beautiful and elegant is the best way to describe this music,” said Bakenhus.

Haydn’s “Farewell” symphony was actually composed as a protest, according to Bakenhus.

“Haydn’s musicians felt overworked and the musicians walk off the stage, one by one, at the end,” said Bakenhus. “They had a name for this style of composition that Haydn often employed: ‘Storm and Stress.’ This seems also appropriate for what we have been going through.

“Even though it was composed as a protest, the ending seems to me to also express the ‘Storm and Stress’ of how we have all felt during these lockdown and social distancing times. I think Haydn would approve if we change the title to the ‘Social Distancing’ symphony.”

The Oct. 26-27 concerts will honor Dr. George Adams, symphony conductor from 1991 to 1999 and professor of bassoon who died in June. Bakenhus will perform Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Bassoon in G-minor RV 495.” The program will feature performances by Emily Adams and William Sprinkle, two of the winners of the 2019-20 Magale Concerto/Aria Competition.

The Feb. 9, 2021 concert will honor the memory of benefactor Donald F. Derby, who died earlier this summer and will include Bach’s “Orchestral Suite No. 3.” Also, on the program will be the NSU Concerto/Aria Competition winners for 2021, and two winners from last year, Miguel Bustillo on marimba and Julio Galvan on saxophone.

The annual Pops Concert will be on Saturday, March 13 at 4 p.m. at the Fleur de Lis Stage on the Downtown Riverbank. As part of the City of Natchitoches’ “Bloomin’ on the Bricks” and the NSU “CAPA on the Cane,” this concert will be a mix of unifying and patriotic music. Included on the program will be new arrangements of “Amazing Grace,” “We Shall Overcome,” “Lift E’vry Voice” and “Sing.” There will also be a salute to our Armed Forces and an inspiring arrangement of “God Bless America” The concert will close with “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

The final concert of the season will be with the NSU Symphony Chorus on Tuesday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. featuring Mozart’s “Requiem.”

Season tickets for the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra can be purchased by calling (318) 352-8055.