In the area of performing arts, our community shows its strength, and rivals many larger metropolitan areas for variety, talent, and opportunity. Several groups entertain audiences throughout the year including Longview Symphony Orchestra, Opera East Texas, Longview Community Theatre, ArtsView Children’s Theatre, Longview Ballet Theatre, as well as several performing arts groups at local high schools and churches. In addition, Longview residents can enjoy professional performance series via LeTourneau University's S.E. Belcher Chapel and Performance Arts Center and Kilgore College’s highly-acclaimed Shakespeare Festival.
Arts East Texas www.ArtsEastTexas.com
The Longview arts community has seen an major works of collaboration over the recent years, as evidenced by the formation of the Arts East Texas. This mission of the organization is to build awareness of and participation in the arts and culture of the region. Arts East Texas has a vision to be recognized as a model of effective collaboration that enriches the quality of life in and contributes to the economic growth of East Texas. The website features information about member organizations as well as a helpful events calendar.
Longview Symphony Orchestra www.LongviewSymphony.org
Longview Symphony Orchestra conducts an exceptional season featuring events throughout the year. Celebrating 39 years of musical excellence, the fully professional orchestra features members from Longview, Tyler, Marshall, Shreveport, and Dallas. The conductor, Tonu Kalam, is a tenured professor of music at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and current president of the international Conductors Guild. The season is consists of five full orchestral concerts, a chamber music concert, a children’s concert for 4th grade students, and a guest artist master class for talented/gifted area music students. The organization also sponsors the Longview Area Youth Symphony Orchestra (LAYSO) and the Longview Area Preparatory String (LAPS). In addition, Longview Symphony Orchestra produces a season of “Bach’s Lunches,” which is a free lunchtime organ recital series on the second Friday of each month September through May.
Opera East Texas www.OperaET.com
Opera East Texas brings world-class talent to our community each year with its annual productions. Formerly known as Opera Longview, Opera East Texas began in 1992 in Longview’s Community Center with a volunteer director and a few paid educators filling the cast and crew categories. Now, Opera East Texas has grown to a year-round company with a blended national and local cast and crew of over sixty, plus a full orchestra. Events include a major opera event each June, a Kaleidoscope Musical Gala, Pasta and Puccini night, as well as the 2007 miraculous Christmas musical “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” Volunteer opportunities are available via BRAVO!, which was organized to promote the interest in and support of opera and the allied arts.
S.E. Belcher Chapel and Performance Center www.BelcherCenter.com
Located on the campus of LeTourneau University, the Belcher Center is a 73,341 square-foot facility that houses 1,400 ground level seats and another 600 opera-house style balcony gallery seats. The center was designed by professionals in architecture and theater designs, including one of the finest acoustical firms in the nation. The Center is built for maximum flexibility within a warm, uplifting, and attractive environment. The Center is host to a community performance series, which for 2007-2008 boasts the likes of The Ten Tenors, The Spencers Theatre of Illusion, STOMP, Eileen Ivers’ “An Nollaig: An Irish Christmas,” St. Petersburg Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet, the African Children’s Choir, and the Intergalactic Nemesis.
Artsview Children’s Theatre www.ArtsviewChildrensTheatre.com
ArtsView Children’s Theatre (ACT) has grown significantly in its early years with plays and workshops for students to experience the performing arts. Artsview is a nonprofit organization which believes that the Arts are fundamental to a well-rounded childhood. ACT produces several wonderfully fun children and teen shows each year as well as occasional adult productions. Recent productions include Once On This Island; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; If You Give a Pig a Party; Alice In Wonderland, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and Happily Ever After. One unique event includes the annual Popcorn Theatre, which gives the audience the whimsically fun opportunity to cheer the hero, jeer the villain, and throw popcorn all the while.
Longview Ballet Theatre www.LongviewBallet.com
The Longview Ballet Theatre shows off both top local student talent as well as bringing in performers from New York and other national ballet companies each year. The nonprofit dance company is dedicated to enhancing the community by combining beauty, skill, and vision to create innovative and inspiring performances for local audiences. Thirty-five years ago, Pat George Mitchell founded the Longview Ballet Theatre because she believes ballet should be accessible to everyone. Through LBT, she pursues her belief in the power of music and ballet to transform the audience by creating performances that make people think, feel, and always smile.
East Texas Symphonic Band
The East Texas Symphonic Band was founded in 1988, when the present conductor, Dr. James Snowden, and a group of Longview musicians got together to play wind band music. The band is composed mostly of adults from all walks of life, including school band directors, along with area high school and college students. The musicians are non-paid volunteers, and each of the four concerts a year are free, making the ETSB a true community band.
Concerts on the Plaza www.LongviewChamber.com
Free concerts held on Fridays during October through Mid-November at Heritage Plaza located in Downtown Longview. The concerts, also known as “Brown Bag Lunch Concerts” are a wonderful way to enjoy a fall lunch hour.
High School Performing Arts:
Longview High School www.lisd.org
Longview Independent School District has several award winning performing arts groups with events open to the public throughout the year. Performing arts organizations include the Longview Choir, the acclaimed “Big Green Marching Machine” Longview High School Band specializing in military style marching, Viewettes Dance Team, Stage Band, Orchestra, Musical Comedy, and Theatre.
Pine Tree High School www.ptisd.org
Pine Tree Independent School District also has several award winning performing arts groups with events open to the public throughout the year, including “PT Pride” Pine Tree High School Band, Choir, Dance, PT Precision Drill Team, Advanced Theatre, and Theatre I.
Spring Hill High School www.springhill.esc7.net
Spring Hill Independent School District also has several award winning performing arts groups with events open to the public throughout the year, including Band, Theatre, and more.
Hallsville High School www.hisd.com
Located in nearby Hallsville, the school offers students - many of whom live in Longview - various opportunities to perform, including theatre, band, jazz band, and more.
Longview is home to several private schools which also provide a variety of performances throughout the year. These schools include Longview Christian School, Trinity School of Texas, East Texas Christian School, Christian Heritage School, and St. Mary’s Catholic School.
Cultural attractions include two of the finest museums in East Texas. The Gregg County Historical Museum, established in 1980, features displays of Victorian-era life in East Texas, Gregg County, historical memorabilia, and a wonderful display of Caddo Indian Artifacts from the surrounding area. The Longview Museum of Fine Arts features a treasure trove of modern art, from paintings to sculpture to mixed media. New shows and displays are held six times a year. Classes for children through senior adults are held year round, addressing topics of sculpture, painting and pottery.
Texas Shakespeare Festival www.TexasShakespeare.com
Located just 15 minutes from Longview on the campus of Kilgore College, the annual Texas Shakespeare Festival has been called the best Shakespeare festival in Texas. The festival began in 1986, and since then has produced twenty-eight plays of Shakespeare canon plus a variety of other critically acclaimed plays starring professional actors from throughout the nation. Each year, the festival runs from mid-June through the end of August with approximately five different plays performed concurrently. The 2007 season included Much Ado About Nothing, Amadeus, Othello, Man of La Mancha, and the Little Blue Horse. The festival offers a variety of volunteer opportunities via the Texas Shakespeare Festival Guild. The Festival experience also includes unique aspects such as the Stratford Room gift shop, Pre-Show Introductions before evening productions, Post-Show Talk-Back on opening night performances, the Shakespeare Garden, Open Changeover set transformation after weekend matinees, and Backstage Tours on Sundays and Mondays.
East Texas Community Chorus www.ettc.blogspot.com
Based 15 minutes from Longview in Kilgore, the East Texas Community Chorus is in its seventh season of performance. The organization exists for singers to experience education, edification, joy, and fellowship through great choral music and to share those experiences with the community. The group has open membership to singers interested in learning and performing challenging choral music.
Kilgore Community Concert Series www.KilgoreChamber.com
Based 15 minutes from Longview in Kilgore, this is an annual series of approximately five performances featuring professional artists and groups. Season tickets are only $35 for adults, $10 for students, or $80 for a household. Past events include The Melody Boys - gospel quartet; Franc D’Ambrosio - baritone singing songs of Hollywood; Celtic Tenors - three great Irish tenors; the Harry James Orchestra - big band at its best; and On Broadway - a Matt Davenport production.