By Brooke Hill | Staff Writer
The Baylor Symphony Orchestra proved there’s more than one way to serve, by providing the gift of their music.
In early October, the group held a fundraising concert to celebrate Meals on Wheels Waco’s 50th birthday: that means 50 years of serving homebound individuals in Central Texas, bringing them meals, arranging transportation to their medical appointments, and organizing events and meals at senior centers.
The orchestra is directed by Stephen Heyde, the Mary Franks Thompson professor of orchestral activities and conductor-in-residence at Baylor. Heyde titled the evening “There Is More to a Symphony than Just Beethoven” in an effort to show students and attendees alike that orchestras aren’t just about playing old classical music.
Meals on Wheels approached the orchestra because the symphony had done a concert for them years ago to raise money for a new kitchen. They had seen Fortune 500 companies having events such as this, and suggested the idea to Heyde.
For this particular concert, the first half was played with the orchestra members in the audience. Each audience member had an orchestra student seated next to them, which gave them a unique experience in which they were able to fully witness the complexities of the orchestra.
“Orchestras are almost a metaphor for business organizations because there’s organization there that goes on — people are taking directions from a leader but there are subleaders throughout the organization. But it also requires people to listen to each other, to respond to each other when it’s their turn, to take the lead when it’s their turn to be supportive,” Heyde said.
Heyde was more than willing to organize this concert for them. A special guest appearance was made by rock violinist Deni Bonet, a former student of Heyde’s, for the second half of the concert. She has toured and recorded with many notable performers including Cyndi Lauper, R.E.M., Sarah McLachlan, Richard Barone and Robyn Hitchcock. Bonet brought a drummer and guitarist to play along with the symphony orchestra. Bonet premiered orchestral versions of several of her recordings.
“I feel pretty strongly that I’m going to do anything that I can for Meals On Wheels because I know how important that organization is,” Heyde said. “Sometimes seniors actually get malnourished because they don’t eat well. They’re not capable of going to the grocery store, or if they can, sometimes they just don’t cook for themselves. So Meals On Wheels is very important, one for the nourishment that they provide older folks, but two for the fact that at least once a day they’ll get somebody knocking on their door that they can trust and that they can have interaction with. It’s that human contact that’s important, as well as the food.”
Meals on Wheels was thrilledwith the event and expressed gratitude for the other Baylor Bears who came together to make the fundraising night possible: the Hankamer School of Business, which provided the concert’s beautiful setting; the Aramark employees who catered the evening’s meal; the Baylor School of Music’s sound specialists who made the night run smoothly; and the students who shuttled older guests from the parking garage to the Foster Campus, according to BaylorProud.
“The Baylor Symphony Orchestra performance for the 50th Anniversary of Meals on Wheels Waco was incredible,” said Lilly Bellinger, associate director for Meals on Wheels Waco. “Allowing the audience to sit among the musicians, to have Dr. Heyde weave the history of the agency with the music made our anniversary cake delicious, adding Demi Bonet as a special performer was icing on the cake. Our gratitude to Baylor students, staff, and facilities is beyond words.”