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Wanda Deveraux and Grace.

Wanda Deveraux and Grace.

Greater Conroe Arts Alliance’s Week-Long Inaugural Event Promoted The Arts

Photos by Dave Clements, DWC Photography

Rising Stars & Legends of Texas brought a wide variety of visual and performing arts to Conroe the weekend of April 21-22. Painters, sculptors, theater companies, galleries, poets and filmmakers convened for the celebration to provide performances, tours and art shows in the theaters, on outdoor stages and even in the streets.

The successful inaugural event was organized by the Greater Conroe Arts Alliance, a nonprofit with a mission to promote and support the arts and cultural organizations throughout the Conroe area.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who made it happen,” said Annette Spikes, president of the Greater Conroe Arts Alliance. “From the crew of joyfully dedicated volunteers, to our board members who poured their lives into this project over the past year, to our generous sponsors who gave with the biggest of hearts, we all share the belief that: Art improves lives; Art is uplifting to the soul; and Art is good for business.”

The event kicked off at the Lone Star Monument and Historical Flag Park with the raising of the 13 flags that have flown over Texas, followed by an a cappella performance of the national anthem by Mary Sarah, the Houston country singer who was a top finalist on the TV singing competition The Voice in 2016.

Other highlights included performances by The Lone Star Elementary Singing Stars, Texas Poet Laureate Dave Parsons reading his poem “The Texian” and Marieda Kilgore singing “Beautiful Texas.”

The festivities continued with the unveiling of the newest Conroe Legends mural. Created by Theresa Thornhill, the mural honors 2009 Pulitzer Prize for History winner Annette Gordon-Reed, a graduate of Conroe High School.

The gospel group Wanda Deveraux and Grace performed for the occasion and led a parade to the stage at Founders Plaza for a full concert. Larry Foerster, chair of the Montgomery County Historical Com­mission, conducted walking tours of Conroe, and Stage Right provided screenings of the history of Crighton Theatre and performed “A Farce of Nature,” a Southern-fried comedy.

Among the many artists displaying works during the event were bronze sculptor Craig Campobella, Colored Pencil Maven Wendy Layne, and mosaic and watercolor master Suzanne Seiler.

Throughout the city, members of the Conroe Symphony Orchestra – from violin trios to woodwind ensembles – performed their favorites. The orchestra, conducted by Don Hutson, also presented its “Celebrating the Classics” concert with Steven Dong featured as piano soloist.

The 2017 winners from the Young Texas Artists Music Competition also were showcased during the weekend. The Gold medalists, flutist Charles Gibb and mezzo-soprano Brennan Blankenship, took the stage alongside silver medal winner, pianist Lizhen Wu. The YTA Competition, which began in 1983, has evolved into a world-renowned celebration of classical music artists between the ages of 18-30.

Literary artists, including Dave Parsons, Deseree Probasco, Kathryn Lane, Cliff Hudder, Molly Lasco and Dede Fox, read excerpts from their works while SWIRL poetry readings were presented by Lone Star College students.

Jazz Connection, an ensemble of young musicians from area schools, performed at Conroe Founders Plaza, and Christian Youth Theatre’s Touring Company presented selections from The Stars At Night and The Fantasticks.

Hip Hop Dancers from the Performing Arts Society energetically took the stage, and C. KIDZ Theatre School presented “The Little Red Hen,” a radio story presented in cooperation with Lone Star Community Radio.

Winners of the Montgomery County Performing Arts Society’s annual talent show – Austin Colburn, Lindsay Allen and Hillary Moore – showed off their musical skills, and the organization’s All Star group performed Arthur Miller’s one-act play, A View From the Bridge.

Emmy Award winner Denton Florian, Texas Poet Laureate Dave Parsons, nationally known sculptor Craig Campobella and area artist Suzanne Seiler served on a panel discussing “The Business of Art” with local artist Joe Kolb acting as moderator.

In addition, attendees enjoyed teacher- and-student duets led by Theresa Yow-Black and her husband Jason Black, as well as by Brenda Storseth’s Rising Stars, including 25-year-old singer and guitarist Courtney Berry, 15-year-old singer and guitarist Abby Harrison, and a 16-year-old vocalist, Maddy Honick.

Musicians The Others and Yelba, led by Hector and Rachell Hinojosa, encouraged guests to dance; and the Montgomery County Choral Society treated audiences to ensemble and solo performances that included a mix of songs with Texas connections.

Highlights from the weekend also included a presentation of Laundry and Bourbon: A Comedy in One Act by Players Theatre Company, screenings of excerpts from Denton Florian’s documentary, Sam Houston, and the Heritage Museum of Montgomery County’s all-day Texas legends display. “What started as a dream became a reality with the inaugural Rising Stars & Legends of Texas event. Our mission to showcase the remarkable visual, performing, literary and cultural arts in our community was a fabulous success,” Spikes said. “Thank you to all who came out to Rising Stars & Legends of Texas. We look forward to seeing you again next year!”

The Greater Conroe Arts Alliance is already planning next year’s event. For information, visit artsinconroe.org

 

Art by Brett Hall on display.

Art by Brett Hall on display.

 

Mary Sarah performs.

Mary Sarah performs.

 

YTA winner mezzo-soprano Brennan Blankenship.

YTA winner mezzo-soprano Brennan Blankenship.

 

Conroe Symphony ensemble.

Conroe Symphony ensemble.

 

Conroe Symphony.

Conroe Symphony.

 

The-Jazz-Connection-2017-04-22-18.12.37

The Jazz Connection


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