Sounds of the Season Christmas concert in Port Arthur includes surprise $1M donation

Published 9:06 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Joyous news was shared that led to more than a few gasps of surprise and a round of applause at the start of the Sounds of the Season Christmas concert Tuesday evening in Port Arthur.

Jeff Newman, executive vice present of operations for Motiva, announced a pledged donation to the Port Arthur Historical Society for $1 million in recognition of the company’s 120 years operational milestone.

The money goes towards a Museum of the Gulf Coast that will have more artifacts from the Texas oil company and be able to explore the future of oil and gas in a new exhibit for polymers and composites, Newman said.

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The Sounds of the Season free concert is sponsored by Motiva in partnership with the Symphony of Southeast Texas and Port Arthur Independent School District and is held at Woodrow Wilson Early College High School.

Newman said this is the fourth year for the partnership and noted the concert occurred during the city’s 125th birthday year and that Motiva is celebrating 120 years in operation.

“If you ever go to that museum, a couple of things will get you. One of them is pride in the area in which we live,” Newman said. “And another is a real appreciation for the impact that Port Arthur and the Golden Triangle has had throughout the region and throughout the world.”

Tom Neal, director of the Museum, said the funds are going toward an effort they’ve been planning for the last five years: to tell the story of composite materials and address the need for an event center. The Museum, he said, has been growing so much that there is a need for a place to gather.

It’s also a chance to refresh the petrochemical message, he said, noting an exhibit for Pot Arthur native Andy Green who created a hardening of polymers and through he has changed our lives, Neal said.

The creation led to composite chassis for racing cars to building materials and other things used in everyday lives.

Also during Tuesday’s concert, PAISD Superintendent Dr. Mark Porterie took a moment to extend sympathy to the family of Glenn Alexander Sr., who died recently. Alexander’s son, conductor Glenn Alexander II, was one of the special guests at the event.

Maestro Chelsea Tipton II, with a Santa hat on his head, opened the concert with traditional Christmas music.

The school was decked out for the concert with festive, elegant décor and Memorial High School students acted as ushers for the event.

Marjorie Cole and Ruth Houston, both former music teachers with PAISD, were on scene and excited for the symphony to come to the community.

Cole said it is difficult for some people, such as the elderly, to get to Beaumont to hear the symphony, so she was happy to see the concert in Port Arthur.

It also reminded her of the “old times” when Alvin Ailey and other groups would come to the city.

MHS Choir Director Adriana Brent mingled the hallway before the doors opened. She said she was looking forward to the choir performing with the symphony orchestra and the guest singer for the night, Kim Cruse, being conducted by Maestro Glenn Alexander II of Port Arthur.