The second-annual Dallas Festival of Modern Music is in Lakewood this month. Miss the first one? That’s OK. It was a quiet affair. But this year’s festival, “Taste the Music”, aims to find ears in Lakewood and at schools all over the Dallas area.The 10-day festival, whose main stage is Lakewood United Methodist Church, is the brainchild of J.L. Long Middle School band director Jordan Smith and his college buddy, musician Ryan Ross. They started the festival to showcase contemporary classical music and other modern genres, such as experimental rock, jazz and pop. This year, the festival is drawing musicians from all over the country and Texas. It is free and includes daily performances at the church, Steinway Hall, Good Records and Legal Grounds. They want the performances to feel intimate, inviting and personal. “It’s centered around the audience experience,” Ross says. “It’s more casual. It’s come as you are, bring the kids.” Smith and Ross this year teamed up with Chris Walls, the new band director at Woodrow Wilson High School, who was with them the conducting master’s degree program at Texas Tech University. Walls is leading the festival’s education initiative. All of the artists at this year’s festival also will perform for students at Woodrow, Long and several other schools in the Dallas area. “A $30 symphony ticket is a stretch for some people, let alone trying to bring the whole family,” Ross says. “But here you have artists who are at the top of their fields spending a day in the schools. That’s a really important part of what we’re doing.” They expect the festival to grow every year, and they’re already getting emails from musicians all over the world who want to perform at next year’s festival. They think Lakewood is the perfect place for it because it’s a walkable neighborhood with lots of good restaurants. So people can hear a concert and then go have dinner in the ‘hood.“Music really fosters community. It’s amazing,” Smith says. “This community deserves a festival like this.” —Rachel Stone

The Dallas Festival of Modern Music is Nov. 5-14, and it’s free. Find a full schedule of concerts online at

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