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Our symphony returns: Mark your calendars


The Symphony of Southeast Texas’ quick return to Port Arthur — they’ll play a Dec. 18 Christmas Concert at Woodrow Wilson Early College High School, following a May 11 concert at Lamar State College Port Arthur — does more than just enliven the Christmas season locally — although that would be benefit enough.

The SOST’s scheduled second concert of the calendar year here, after an absence in this city of more than a decade, reestablishes the link between the Beaumont-based symphony and Greater Port Arthur. It’s the resumption of a beautiful relationship.

The symphony is in its 66th season, and maestro Chelsea Tipton is soon to mark 10 years at its helm. The symphony and Tipton bridged a gap in Greater Port Arthur with the May concert, which featured a spectacular pops program that included many American pieces that were crowd favorites. Tipton himself was a delightful showman, and 75 minutes passed joyously. The second concert should seal the relationship.

Further, the May concert lends support to the SOST’s position as a regional symphony meant to enthrall not only Beaumont but also Orange, Port Arthur and other communities in the Golden Triangle. The regional, professional orchestra, Beaumont based, includes premier musicians from Houston, Lake Charles and Beaumont.

“We are more connected to the whole Golden Triangle area,” SOST executive director Doug Fair said. That’s why they’ve played at the Lutcher Theatre and Shangri La Gardens in Orange in recent years. But not in Port Arthur, at least not until May.

Joining the symphony will be the Port Arthur Memorial High School Choir, performing under the direction of Lonnie Reed. The choir’s participation lends a another, personal connection to this community. Port Arthur students participated in the May 11 pops concert, serving as ushers and distributing programs.

Fair said this spring that events like the pops concert in May and now the Sounds of Christmas in December make the symphony appear more inviting and accessible to a general audience.

“Do that,” he said, “and Beethoven is not so foreign. If you do that, if they enjoy themselves, they’ll come back,” he said.

“You don’t have to understand everything but just sit there and enjoy it,” publicist Paula Bothe said of the pops concert last spring. “That would make it a success.

“If you can do anything for us, have a good time. Pure and simple,” she said.

The symphony delivered a good time in May, and the same should be expected in December.

The 7 p.m. concert will include a visit with Santa, a guest appearance, a sing-along and more surprises. Motiva Enterprises is sponsoring the hourlong event, which will be free of charge in a venue — the Early College High School — that has seating for 1,000. Mark your calendar.