Maestro Hector Guzman admitted when he first became the group’s music director at age 25 that he did not know what to expect.
“I never dreamed that this could actually take place because music directors don’t last that long in this position,” Guzman said. “They average, music directors, between five to 10 years, and if he or she is very successful, maybe 15, at the most 20, but 40 [years] is almost unheard of. [I’m] grateful the board has given me that confidence and trust to go on and build this orchestra from nothing [into] one of the most distinguished cultural organizations in Texas.”
Guzman said he remembers the first concert in 1983 at Plano’s Williams High School that was seen by 153 people. He credits the countless citizens who have volunteered over the years, calling them invaluable, and the organization’s staff, who all work tirelessly to ensure the Plano Symphony Orchestra continues thriving for another four decades.
“This organization is so unique. We’re not just a symphony orchestra. We’re a family, and that’s the way we approach it,” Guzman said. “Sometimes we get mad at each other, sometimes we cry, but that’s a family. That’s what has made this organization so incredibly successful.”
To commemorate the Plano Symphony Orchestra’s 40th anniversary, there is a full schedule of events lined up. The city of Plano proclaimed Sept. 22 as Plano Symphony Orchestra and Hector Guzman Day. Two days later, the orchestra opened the 2022 Plano Balloon Festival.
“We’ve never done that before,” Guzman said. “It was amazing. The estimate was 15,000 people that were there. We saw the balloons being lit. It was such a great thing. It was crowded with great people, a great community event.”
However, concerts are not the only area where Plano Symphony Orchestra shines, Guzman said. The organization also annually hosts the Collin County Young Artists Competition and has successful education and outreach programs. There is a school concert program with local elementary schools. An instrument petting zoo takes instruments to events where children can try them out. The Plano Symphony Orchestra also funds a year of private lessons on instruments for deserving Plano middle school students. Its Healing Notes program takes music to assisted living and correctional facilities to reach those unable to attend concerts.
“We take music to hospitals, memory centers, even the correctional facilities,” he said. “Music heals the soul, not just the body, but the soul.”