PHOTO BY Can Türkyilmaz

Playing violin is a lifelong hobby for Hollywood Heights resident Kevin Felton. He first started playing in fifth grade, and for the past 25 years, he’s picked up a stringed instrument nearly every day. When Felton moved to the neighborhood in 1992, he went looking for people to play with.

“My favorite music to play is anything I can play with other people,” he says. “I get tired of playing in a closet, playing at home alone all the time.”

He found an Irish folk music group in Lakewood, so he learned to fiddle in that style. That was fun, he says, but the group stopped playing together around 2003. So a few years later, Felton, who is an orthotist at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, found the Dallas-based New Texas Symphony Orchestra.

The all-volunteer orchestra performs four concerts a year in Hamon Hall, inside the Winspear Opera House. It was founded by conductor Kathryn Brown, originally to accompany the Turtle Creek Chorale, although it now is a separate nonprofit with performances all its own.

The orchestra performs romantic and classical styles, baroque and classical church music. Now Felton mainly plays viola, the middle instrument between violin and cello.

“The NTSO has auditions for the wind and brass and the percussion,” he says. “But we’re badly in need of strings. So there are not auditions for the strings program.”

When the orchestra plays its seasonal concerts, the next one being Saturday, June 4, most of the audience members are friends and family of the orchestra members. But it’s not so much about who’s listening as who’s playing, Felton says: “Playing with others is the gift of playing in the orchestra.”

Find more information about performances and joining the orchestra at

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