The number of Hispanic and Latino orchestra members across the country is low, but growing.

Over the summer, the League of American Orchestras released a study of 156 orchestras that showed growth in the number of Hispanic and Latino musicians: 4.8% today, up from 2.5% during the 2013-14 season.

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is just one group working to address diversity both within its ranks and in its audiences. 

If you go

What: Celebración Sinfónica concert
When: 2 p.m. Oct. 1
Where: Rose Marine Theater 1440 N. Main St. in Fort Worth
Admission: Reserve a free ticket here.

“I saw a big need for (serving) the Latino community,” Josselin Garibo Pendleton said. 

As the orchestra’s senior manager of education and community programs, she knew she wanted to address that.

In partnership with Artes de la Rosa, the orchestra is working to meet community members where they are by hosting a free concert called Celebración Sinfónica at 2 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Rose Marine Theater.

“We’re excited, grateful and humbled to have the Fort Worth Symphony here,” Artes’ executive director William Girón said. “We’re located in the Northside, but we serve all of Fort Worth … We (hope) to get our Southside, Eastside and Westside neighbors to come on out to the concert as well.”

The performance will include some of the orchestra’s traditional repertoire and pieces tailored to this event from Gabriela Lena Frank, a contemporary Latina composer, and Astor Piazzolla, the late Argentine tango composer.

“We are representing our community,” Garibo Pendleton said. “These are Hispanic composers that you may never have heard of that are doing great things. I mean, Gabriela Lena Frank is special because she is living and someone they can follow.”

Santiago Ariza Rodriguez, a Columbian doctoral student at Texas Christian University, will also be a featured soloist in two separate pieces. 

“This young, Latino musician is (someone) that you would otherwise not see very often in the States,” she said.

The orchestra is accustomed to playing a variety of different composers and styles, and members were happy to take on a new challenge, assistant conductor Taichi Fukumura, said.

“By creating a program like this, which is very specific to the occasion, I think we can make a more impactful experience for people,” he said. “Rather than just plugging in a generic concert and saying, ‘Hey, come see the local symphonic orchestra,’ we’re actually reaching out to create special events.”

Artes is also one of the handful of local organizations the orchestra partnered with for its community ticket program, which provides community groups with a set number of tickets they can give to the people they serve for select productions throughout the season. The goal is to broaden access to people who would be unable or unlikely to attend performances otherwise.

“We’re hoping to be building relationships so it’s not just to get in there, perform once and never hear from each other again,” Fukumura said. “Rather, we’re trying to build new connections with people, (start) ongoing conversations and opportunities to share music together.

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...