September 17, 2022

7:30 PM

Mary Alice Marshall Performing Arts Center
at Temple College
Featuring Finalist #1, David Itkin


Pavane – Gabriel Faure
Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183 – W.A. Mozart
Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36 – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

David Itkin

The 2022-2023 season marks David Itkin’s 18th season as Music Director and Conductor of the Abilene Philharmonic, and his 15th year serving as Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of North Texas College of Music.

During past seasons Maestro Itkin’s career has taken him to 45 U.S. states and 15 countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, including concerts and recordings with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Slovenska Filhamonija, the San Diego Symphony, and the Seoul Philharmonic. Other guest conducting appearances include concerts with the Colorado Philharmonic, the Annapolis Symphony, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Illinois Symphony, the Delaware Symphony, the New Hampshire Symphony, the Cheyenne Symphony, and the Indianapolis, Baltimore, and Reno Chamber Orchestras. During the Summer of 2006 Maestro Itkin appeared once again with the Slovenska Filharmonija in Ljubljana, Slovenia, conducting the opening concert of the 14th World Saxophone Congress.

Following a distinguished 17-year tenure, Maestro Itkin was named Conductor Laureate of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in July 2010. Previously Mr. Itkin served as Music Director & Conductor of the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Artistic Director and Conductor of the McCall Summerfest in McCall, Idaho, and as Music Director & Conductor of the Lake Forest Symphony (Chicago), the Kingsport Symphony, the Birmingham Opera Theatre, and the Lucius Woods Music Festival (Wisconsin).

His second book, The Conductor’s Craft, was published in 2021 by GIA Publications, whereupon notable conductors and pedagogues wrote, “a real breakthrough for anyone studying or teaching conducting,” “I love this book and will be using it in my studio,” and “Bravo to Maestro Itkin.” His first book, Conducting Concerti, was released in August 2014 to considerable critical acclaim. Leonard Slatkin called Conducting Concerti “a valuable textbook for the aspiring Maestro…highly recommended,” and Samuel Adler called it “an invaluable addition to the world of conducting textbooks.”

Mr. Itkin’s first film score (“Sugar Creek”) was recorded in 2006 by the Arkansas Symphony for the film’s 2007 release. His most recent major work, “Exodus”, an oratorio, was premiered in April 2005 in Little Rock, with William Shatner narrating. “Exodus” was released worldwide on CD in 2007.

In May 2009 Maestro Itkin was awarded both an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Lyon College and the Above the Barre award by Ballet Arkansas.

In addition to his professional schedule, Maestro Itkin regularly serves as a guest conductor/clinician, including concerts with the Arkansas All-State Orchestra, the Southern California High School Honors Orchestra, the Maine All-State Orchestra, the Las Vegas Senior Honors Orchestra, and any number of Texas all-region Honors Orchestras.

January 28, 2023

7:30 PM

Mary Alice Marshall Performing Arts Center
at Temple College
Featuring Finalist #3, Beau Benson


Shenanigan – Kati Agócs
Pulcinella Suite, K034b – Igor Stravinsky
Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Beau Benson

Dr. Bruce “Beau” Benson, who resides in the Waco Texas area, has extensive experience conducting Orchestras. He has served as Associate Conductor for the Flower Mound Chamber Orchestra and Assistant Conductor for the Frisco Symphony. Additionally, he is a faculty member of the University of Houston’s yearly guitar festival, serving as composer-in-residence and director of the guitar orchestra. Additionally, Dr. Benson has served as the “Cover Conductor” for the Ft Worth Symphony. He is currently the Music Director/Conductor of the Oregon East Symphony Orchestra and Conductor of the Waco Symphony Youth Orchestra. Previously, he served as Principal Director of the Metroplex Opera (Dallas), Music Director of the Texas A&M Symphony, and numerous concerts as guest conductor.

Dr. Benson received a Bachelors of Music, Suma Cum Laude, in Guitar Performance and Music Education from Southern Methodist University in 2003. He received a Masters of Music in Orchestra Conducting from Southern Methodist University in 2007, and in 2010, he received a Doctorate of Musical Art in Conducting from Michigan State University. He has attended numerous conducting workshops including Conductors Institute of America and International Academy of Advanced Conducting.

As a guitarist, Dr. Benson has studied with many of today’s leading performers and pedagogues, and was awarded a grant by the D’Adarrio Foundation for the Performing Arts to study and perform in Italy during the summer of 2000. He won second place in the 2000 Hubbard Chamber Music Series Solo Competition and was a finalist in the 2002 Stafford International Guitar Recital Competition in Stafford, U.K. He has appeared as a guest artist for numerous organizations including the North East Texas Symphony, Flower Mound Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of New Spain, Mesquite Symphony, Houston Civic Symphony, American Musicological Society, Dallas Basically Beethoven Festival, University of Houston, Rice University, the Kansas City Guitar Society, the Dallas Guitar Society, the Spanish Consulate in Washington, and Guitar Houston.

April 29, 2023

7:30 PM

Mary Alice Marshall Performing Arts Center
at Temple College
Featuring Finalist #4, Steven Ward


Ballade in A minor, Op.33 – Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Dances from The Three-Cornered Hat – Manuel de Falla
Pines of Rome, P141 – Ottorino Respighi

Dr. Steven Ward

Dr. Steven Ward is the Music Director/Conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Abilene, the Music Director/Conductor of the Abilene Youth Orchestra, and is Professor of Music and Director of Orchestra and Bands at Abilene Christian University. He also serves as the conductor for the Ballet San Angelo yearly production of The Nutcracker, and the conductor of the orchestra and faculty ensembles for the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts. Previously, he was Music Director/Conductor of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra in Kalamazoo, MI, and Director of Bands at Hope College in Holland, MI. Prior to his appointment with the KJSO and Hope College, Dr. Ward was the Music Director/Conductor of the Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra and Youth Orchestra in La Grande, OR, and Instructor of Music at Eastern Oregon University.

He has conducted extensively in many different areas including orchestra, dance/ballet, band, musical theater, opera, and contemporary music, and is a recipient of the ASCAP orchestra award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. He spent nine summers at the Interlochen Arts Camp, conducting the Interlochen Philharmonic, as well as middle school and high school orchestras and bands, and faculty ensembles. He has conducted many all-region and similar ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestra at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, region orchestras and bands throughout Texas, Michigan, Tennessee, and more. Guest appearances include Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, the Midland Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Midland Festival Ballet, and others.

Dr. Ward holds a DMA in Conducting from Michigan State University, a MA in Conducting from Stephen F. Austin State University, and a BM in Music Education from Abilene Christian University. He is Past President of the South-Central Region of the College Orchestra Directors Association, President of the Southwestern Division of the College Band Directors National Association, and a member of the Texas Orchestra Directors Association, the Texas Music Educators Association, the Texas Bandmasters Association, the Michigan State Band and Orchestra Directors Association, the American String Teachers Association, and the International Conductors Guild.