Bruce Wittrig and Ginger Williams envision a time when area residents regularly gather at Lake Highlands Presbyterian Church to hear classical music played by talented musicians.
In 2003, the Lake Highlands residents launched a concert series called Festival of Sound: Sunday Evening Casual Classics. They are planning their third performance this month.
“What I’d like to have happen is for people in the community to start expecting there to be one every couple of months,” Wittrig says.
A renovation project at Lake Highlands Presbyterian delayed the music series last year, but Williams says concerts should occur regularly in the future. The March concert date will be set when the church completes construction.
The concert series evolved from collaboration between the two neighbors. Wittrig is a musician, and Williams is a music-lover.
“That’s one of the beauties of the Lake Highlands neighborhood – it was just born of a front-yard conversation,” Williams says. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the musicians to perform, but how rich for us to have it right here in our neighborhood and accessible to everyone.”
Wittrig, a violinist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, says he enjoys sharing the stage with several dozen musicians and playing for audiences topping 2,000.
“It’s wonderful to be a part of that – when we’re speaking with one voice and the audience is getting it,” he says of symphony performances at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
But musicians also long for more intimate connections with their audiences, Wittrig adds.
“We’re trying to get some music going on a more human scale than what I normally do,” he says. “A lot of us don’t get the chance to play for 50 or 100 or 200 people, which is chamber music.”
Although some chamber music performance opportunities exist in Dallas, Wittrig says he would like to see more. Other cities, such as Cleveland, have long traditions of supporting chamber music, he says.
“What this town doesn’t have yet is regular music playing for small audiences. It’s really a pretty simple idea, and it’s not something that hasn’t been tried,” he says. “I’d like to see if we can develop an audience in the neighborhood that will embrace this.”
Wittrig plans to bring in professional colleagues as featured performers. DSO violinist Bing Wang and Lake Highlands Presbyterian organist John Burkwall will participate in the next concert.
Mary Alice Rich, Wittrig’s wife, arranged one of the pieces for the upcoming concert and other selections for prior performances. She is a violinist and composer and works with the DSO’s Young Strings minority student program.
Each concert will last about an hour, possibly followed by dessert and conversation, Wittrig says. Performances will be free, he says, but $10 donations will be requested to compensate the visiting musicians.