“Having that passion [for music] goes all the way back to piano lessons and Cindy Snyder teaching me piano and having performances at Unity Baptist Church all the way up through beginning in junior high and high school through the whole public school system and one of the heyday, eras of the band program,” Gathright said.
While at the University of Arkansas, Gathright was also part of the marching Razorbacks and the Hogwild Band, as well as the flagship university’s symphonic band. Eventually, he acknowledged, “engineering took over,” but he has remained active in performing and in supporting the Texarkana symphony. Gathright said his experience as the Superband’s drum major in 1989 came in handy during the lessons he took from the TSO’s music director and conductor Philip Mann, but that he had to learn to narrow his focus to an orchestra rather than a football field.
Now he hopes to take up the baton in ten days, and he needs your help. For a $20 donation to the symphony, you earn the right to one vote for a guest conductor. Four candidates are running for the honor, but I’d like suggest Gary Gathright, eminently qualified because of his love of music, his experience with the Hope Superband as an award-winning drum major and trombonist and the love he expressed during his talk for a stellar orchestra that performs just over a half hour away from Hope in the Perot Theater.
If he wins, and that announcement will occur at a concert that starts in Perot Sunday December 10th at 4:00 p.m. the orchestra is turned over to him for a performance of a holiday tune. The most votes earns him that privilege, but he also hopes the four contestants combine to best last year’s record.
“The four people that participated last year, I believe raised $85,000, among the four of them,” Gathright said. “For this contest, we're shooting for that as a target. Some of my competitors have said $86,000. I've taken more of a Price Is Right approach and said $85,001, just to have the bragging rights. But whatever we raise stays right here in the symphony.”
The symphony’s musicians, its stage equipment and its administration need funding to keep the music going, Gathright said, but the dollars being raised also help support the Texarkana Symphony’s educational mission, which places musicians in classrooms all over the region, and its scholarship program, which helps develop the instrumental virtuosi of the future. “They will visit various schools around the area and on average impact about 3,500 kids every year between kindergarten and 12th grade, with either encouraging them in their particular instrument or exposing them to music or a different type of music than they may be more familiar with,” Gathright said.
Whether your preference is Josquin du Pres, Mozart, Johannes Brahms or Arkansas’ own Florence Price or John Williams, composer of the Home Alone soundtrack which the TSO recently performed during a playing of the movie, Gathright’s cause is one every music-lover should support. Use the link code on Gary Gathright's campaign seal below to donate and vote, and then get your tickets to what could be his classical conducting debut Sunday December 10th.