The show must go on: Tornado warning doesn’t stop Baylor Symphony Orchestra

The Baylor Symphony Orchestra performed shortly after the tornado warning was dismissed. Photo courtesy of Emma Weidmann.

By Emma Weidmann | Arts and Life Editor

Applause was louder than ever as the Baylor Symphony Orchestra took the stage for the second time in one night on Thursday evening. At 7:31 p.m., a tornado warning was issued for McLennan County and surrounding areas just as the orchestra struck a discordant note to tune their instruments.

But even the weather alert couldn’t stop the symphony orchestra — it only delayed the music.

Shortly after the warning’s expiration at 8 p.m., conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya welcomed the audience back into the Jones Concert Hall from their shelter in the inner practice rooms of the Glennis McCrary Music Building and carried on business as usual.

“As always, every concert is special,” Harth-Bedoya said. “Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ is perhaps the best concert for an orchestra … . If you have heard ‘Bolero’ before, this will be a unique performance. It’s ever-enchanting, ever-intriguing and ever-powerful.”

Saxophonist and Houston senior Paige Nielsen said the interruption was unexpected, but she was glad the concert was able to resume smoothly.

“It was definitely not in the plans,” Nielsen said. “We were kind of just hoping [for] the best. Sometimes, they delay it further and further, and we were all just hoping that wouldn’t happen, and we were lucky.”

Nielsen said she was excited to perform “Bolero,” since the piece is deceptively mellow at the beginning and crescendos smoothly throughout its 15-minute duration. Moreover, a symphony performance is a rare thing for a saxophonist, according to Nielsen.

“I do wish there was more saxophone [repertoire] that I could play, and I’m sure I’ll have opportunities in the future,” Nielsen said. “I’m just happy to be a part of it this time.”

The orchestra first performed Chopin’s “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in F Minor,” highlighted by Łódź, Poland pianist Cezary Karwowski. Karwowski is the winner of the 2022 Baylor School of Music Concerto Competition, making this performance one to not be overshadowed by the weather.

The ending of “Bolero” was a triumphant one, perfectly fitting for a night of perseverance and precipitation.

The performance didn’t close there, as Harth-Bedoya had a surprise up his concert-black sleeves. After a standing ovation, Harth-Bedoya donned a cowboy hat to conduct the theme from “Indiana Jones” as a “special treat” for the audience.

The Baylor Symphony Orchestra will take the stage, hopefully under clearer skies, at 7:30 p.m. on April 26 in the Jones Concert Hall for its final concert of the semester.