The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra is hosting a free concert in the park on Saturday, June 14. Don’t turn the page … conductor Fouad Fakhouri knows what kind of reputation his genre of music has, and he’s out to destroy that myth. 
    {mosimage}“Most people think that the symphony is stuffy. You have to put on your suit and go sit there and not speak and be bored. The lights are down and you have to sit in this environment that is very sterile,” said Fakhouri.
    “Why go to the symphony when you can go to a pop concert or go sit in front of a TV and watch a football game where you can eat your chips and do all sorts of stuff while you are being entertained?”
    It’s a good question, with a simple answer: it’s good music, it’s fun, and Fakhouri considers it a personal quest to bring it to anyone who wants to listen. 
“It’s a personal love of mine to try to attract as many people to this medium as I can. Because I love classical music, I don’t think about it as a chore, I think of it as ‘This is fun for me,’” said Fakhouri, adding that introducing someone to the symphony is like making a new friend.
“It is almost like introducing a friend of yours to another friend. This is my friend and I get along with him very nicely. How about you meet him and then we can all three be friends?’ It is that type of mindset for me.”
    Like any good host introducing two friends, Fakhouri is doing all he can to make the atmosphere enjoyable and his guests comfortable.
    This year, the concert will start at 8 p.m. It will be cooler and a little darker than last year. The theme of this concert is going to be a bit different too — all-American music. There will be Sousa marches and things of that nature along with the works of many great American composers.
    “When we give a concert like we are doing … knowing the history of Fayetteville and the majority of the people that live in Fayetteville and their affiliation to the military, etc. … if we can fit the Fayetteville Symphony to that and inspire people to come and listen to us I can guarantee that there will be people that will be very, very happy after this concert,” Fakhouri promised.
“It is very much a patriotic American concert.”
    Unlike the stiff and rigid images that the symphony can sometimes bring to mind, this performance will be much more relaxed, which is exactly the point.
“When you do a pop concert like we are doing in the park, the beauty of that is that people can be less formal, they can bring their food — it is a free concert,” said Fakhouri.
“They can put their blanket on the lawn and sit and have a glass of wine or a drink and eat their food as they are listening to the music.
    “I feel that we can never do enough to continue to provide our services to as many people in Fayetteville as we can,” said Fakhouri. “It is crucial that we do this.”
    They not only perform in concert halls for a specific group of people who are really diehard fans and aficionados of classical music, but they go out and try to attract new audiences too.  
    “This is a real fun thing for me so why don’t you come and join me and see how fun it can be for you?” said Fakhouri.
    The party is at Festival Park, 8 p.m. Admission is free.

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