The members of the renowned 102-piece UNT Symphony Orchestra got the chance of a lifetime this fall, playing to a sellout crowd of 36,981 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. UNT was the only university the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee invited to participate in XLV Countdown: Live from Cowboys Stadium, presented by Frito-Lay Sept. 10. The event, which featured a special concert by country singer Tim McGraw, celebrated 50 years of Dallas Cowboys history and ended the three-part Kick-Off Concert Series for North Texas’ first Super Bowl. Faith Hill and Sting were the headliners for the two previous concerts in the series.
The UNT Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Clay Couturiaux (’94, ’96 M.M., ’00 D.M.A.), assistant director of orchestral studies, joined McGraw for part of his performance. The orchestra also played works commissioned by the NFL, providing a live soundtrack as films highlighted Dallas Cowboys history and Emmitt Smith’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Our students played for a crowd larger than any they’ll likely ever play for again,” Couturiaux says. “The Winspear Performance Hall holds about 1,000 people, by comparison.”
He says the main challenge for the musicians at the stadium was being able to hear each other play, not due to the crowd but due to the acoustics.
“They had to learn to listen to each other in a different way. It was a very unique experience,” he says. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”