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A Magnificent Maestro for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra

10/01/2007 04:08PM, Published by Anonymous, Categories:

How wonderfully inspiring it is to see our community through the fresh eyes of others, and hear their opinions about things we all may have come to take for granted.

In a recent interview with Dr. Fouad Fakhouri, the director and conductor of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, and his wife, Diane, they spoke of their initial visit to Fayetteville more than three years ago. They had come to learn more about the FSO and its search for a musical director and conductor. Though they had lived in cities like Pittsburgh and Dallas, they found Fayetteville very much to their liking.

“We liked what we saw of Fayetteville,” recalls Diane Fakhouri, “but the people here are just extraordinary. You don’t find the kind of warmth everywhere that you find here.”

Fouad Fakhouri agrees, saying that they had spent their first night in Fayetteville in the Prince Charles Hotel, in the heart of downtown.

“We saw a charming and vibrant city center,” he says, and a place that had great potential. But, as so many do, the Fakhouris attribute their enthusiasm for Fayetteville to the people they have come to know here. People such as Dr. Marvin Curtis of Fayetteville State University and Rollin Shaw, a member of the Symphony’s Board, and her husband, retired physician Frank, as well as others, warmly encouraged the Fakhouris to make Fayetteville their home. The Symphony’s board members had spent a great deal of time and effort in searching for just the right leader for the 50-year-old orchestra. No longer content to work with an absentee conductor, occasionally commuting from a distant city, the Symphony wanted an accomplished musician with leadership skills. They found all that and more in Fouad Fakhouri.

He was born in 1972 in Beirut, Lebanon, a city known at the time as “The Paris of the Middle East.” Not long thereafter, civil war broke out in Lebanon and many of Lebanon’s best and brightest inhabitants fled to other countries. Ultimately, Fouad came to attend university in America, earning a bachelor’s degree in music theory and composition from West Texas State University. He went on to earn two master’s degrees, in composition/theory and orchestral conducting. His most recent academic credential, a doctoral degree in composition, was earned at the University of Texas.

The Fakhouris faced the challenge that so many professional couples do in making a decision about moving to Fayetteville. Not only is Fouad a talented, credentialed, and experienced professional – so, too, is his wife. Perhaps not in the world of music, but she is a star in the advertising profession. With well over a decade invested in her career, she wanted to live in a place that could sustain two careers – his and hers. Another woman might be eclipsed as the wife of a man who is handsome, charming, talented and referred to as maestro – but not Diane Fakhouri. She is an attractive woman who exudes confidence and high energy – and who appears to be perfectly at ease in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Happily, Diane, a native of Pennsylvania, found a professional home here as well. She’s been with SMITH, the local advertising firm whose scope reaches well beyond Fayetteville, for the past two-and-a-half years and has already advanced to Vice President of Account Management with the business.

Certainly, the Fayetteville Symphony’s sustained search for a musical director/conductor came to a happy conclusion with the arrival of Fouad Fakhouri. But wait – it gets better!

He has recently agreed to stay on in Fayetteville for another five years beyond his initial three-year contract. This commitment certainly underscores the Fakhouris’ stated belief in the potential of the Fayetteville community.

The 2007-08 season offers many opportunities to see and hear the Symphony. One of Fakhouri’s goals is to gain more exposure for the Symphony, and to have more people in the audiences. Fakhouri enjoys composing and his work has been performed internationally. The first performance of the 2007-08 season, a free concert in Festival Park in late September, included a piece composed by Maestro Fakhouri, titled “LaFayette.”

The FSO season continues with a performance at Reeves Auditorium at Methodist University on Nov. 3, featuring the music of Wagner, Schuman and Tchaikovsky; a Holiday Extravaganza at Berean Baptist Church on Dec. 1; Romantic Masterpieces on Feb. 16 at Seabrook Auditorium at Fayetteville State University, once again featuring an original composition by Fakhouri titled “Heron;” and performances of the music of Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Beethoven on April 26, once again at Reeves Auditorium. Season programs and tickets are available at the Symphony’s office in Liberty Point in downtown Fayetteville. You can reach the office by phone at 433-4690.

Who knows what the next five years will bring for the Fakhouris and the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, but Maestro Fakhouri himself is convinced that it will be good.

“I still see great untapped potential,” Fakhouri says. “That potential is in the orchestra, and it’s here in Fayetteville. I will be happy to be here as long as we are working toward realizing that potential.”


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