Chris Xeros was coaxed out of retirement nine years ago to conduct a group of about 70 semi-organized musicians from Brookhaven Community College and the surrounding community.
The renowned conductor spent one year organizing gigs and performing pops concerts before the city of Allen adopted the group in 1998. The group would later become the semi-professional Allen Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.
Xeros’s final concert as conductor of the Allen Philharmonic will take place at 7 p.m. April 29 at the First Baptist Church in Allen. The group will perform Beethoven’s ninth symphony.
His successor, Richard Giangiulio, will assume the baton for the orchestra’s Patriotic Pops concert on Memorial Day at the Joe Farmer Recreation Center.as the new conductor. Giangiulio, conductor and music director of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, was selected by the Allen Philharmonic board after a year-long search.
Xeros, meanwhile, may be putting down his baton for the second time, but this isn’t the end of his musical road. The music lover said he plans to continue attending music conferences, speaking at lectures and building his 22-year-old business, Xeros Music Enterprises.
A self-proclaimed “crusader” for the arts and classical music, Xeros founded the Richardson Symphony Orchestra in 1962 and served as its conductor for 30 years before retiring.
Five years later, Allen High School band director Craig Logan encouraged Xeros to bring the new group to perform in Allen, which would later become its home.
Xeros said Allen was “ahead of the curve” when they adopted the orchestra.
“A symphonic organization is almost the last thing a city put together, once they have all the schools and libraries built,” he said. “Allen was not quite up to speed to really fully support a symphonic orchestra.”
But with the growth of the city and support for the group, he added the orchestra is on the brink of fulfilling its potential. Since the orchestra’s inception nine years ago, the group has added a more challenging repertoire and the Allen Symphony Chorus, composed of volunteer residents.
“He’s done a great job of developing the orchestra. If you listened to the orchestra eight years ago and then today, you’d be amazed at how they’ve matured,” said Kathy Litinas, president of the Allen Philharmonic board of directors.
Xeros received his bachelor’s in music and mater’s in music education from the University of North Texas, and has studied at the Julliard School of Music in New York, Colorado University in Boulder, the University of Texas in Austin and L’Ecole Monteux in Hancock, Maine.
When the Allen Philharmonic started, Xeros said “we came out there with an embryonic group doing pops concerts.”
Needing a place to practice, Xeros said he negotiated with Curtis Middle School. The deal included performing youth concerts, which he said he’s proud to have been organizing for eight years.
“They’ve been very successful, and I’ve enjoyed training the youth of Allen on classical music,” he said.
But as the orchestra’s eighth season draws to a close, Xeros said he will miss the budding group he helped create and lead.
“I will miss the greatest people in the world, and those are the orchestra members,” he said. “We became just one big, happy family. I’ll miss the camaraderie of the musicians.”
At age 79, Xeros said he’s ready to spend more time with is family and being an entrepreneur, but hopes the orchestra will flourish in the next few years.
“I would like to encourage the city of Allen to keep my baby, the Allen Philharmonic. I would hope that they would take care of it, nurture it and build it to another level,” Xeros said.
“Getting the (residents of Allen) to accept classical music has been a real challenge and crusade for me,” he said.
Xeros said he is also developing new products to sell through his company, Xeros Music Enterprises. He has designed three products: an end-pin anchor for the cello and double bass and a double bass wheel.
Xeros started his professional career as a violinist and violist with the Chattanooga Symphony. He taught in the Chattanooga public schools, and later returned to Dallas to teach strings for 35 years in the Dallas ISD.
He has received numerous national and local awards. He was most recently honored by the University of North Texas for endowing a conductor’s studio and a viola scholarship at the school.