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Envisioning a New Future for the Irving Symphony
by Jerome Weeks 6 Jul 2011

How does a mid-sized, suburban symphony orchestra stand out — when there are nearly a dozen professional orchestras in North Texas? The Irving Symphony has ‘re-branded’ itself as ‘enviso.’ But it’s more than just a name change. They’re aiming for a game change.


The Golden Dragon Acrobats performed with the Irving Symphony Orchestra in April

The Irving Symphony Orchestra is not the same classical music group it’s been for 49 years. It’s now changed its name to enviso [en-VEE-soh]. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports that the change is not simply cosmetic.

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There are almost a dozen professional symphony orchestras in North Texas. That’s a denser concentration than in any other metropolitan region of comparable size in North America.

When Tracy Boyd (below) became president of the Irving Symphony five years ago, he saw a situation that many arts groups face in the area, including theaters and museums. His orchestra didn’t really compete head-to-head with the two leading symphonies, one in Dallas, the other in Fort Worth. Instead, it’s really part of a larger circle of mid-sized organizations, with roughly the same mission: serving their particular suburb. Worse for Boyd, there’s even the Las Colinas Symphony – a competing orchestra right in Irving. (Former Irving Symphony conductor Robert Carter Austin left the ISO in 1991 to form the Las Colinas orchestra.)

Boyd: “But as I would go from symphony orchestra to symphony orchestra, I noted that there was a great deal not of differentiation but of similarity. And we felt that there was an opportunity to create something that had not been seen or heard in the metroplex.”

How to stand out? This summer, the Irving Symphony changed its title. It’s one of the few orchestras in the United States with a one-word name – like Madonna or Prince. “Enviso” is a made-up word like Exxon or Prozac; it’s meant to evoke “envision.” Coincidentally, its last three letters, ISO, are the initials for Irving Symphony Orchestra — a little nod to history.

But this ‘re-branding’ is designed to call attention to a more substantive change that actually happened three years ago. The Irving Symphony went multimedia. In addition to the music, their concerts now feature visual projections, Cirque du Soleil-ish aerialists or acrobats. A collaboration in February with SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts even featured a fashion runway: The show was called “Couture Music.” A number of classical-music organizations around the country — including the Fort Worth Symphony — have dabbled in multimedia performances like these, usually in their “pops” series. Enviso is one of the few orchestras to offer a full season of only multimedia concerts.

Boyd: “The classical masterworks continue to be our primary repertoire. What makes enviso different is how we stage those productions.”

Obviously, these changes are meant to distinguish enviso from surrounding orchestras. But becoming ‘enviso’ also means that Boyd envisions changing this area’s mid-sized, suburban-orchestra game. He hopes the multimedia format will attract younger audiences. At the same time, the new name intentionally does not ‘say’ Irving. Or anywhere else. It expands the orchestra’s appeal and its potential audience base geographically.

Boyd is aiming to attract people from all over North Texas — from those other suburbs and cities with their own symphony orchestras.

Photo outfront from Aerial Experience Productions