Rice Shepherd School composition student organizes benefit concert for hometown affected by Texas panhandle wildfire

Artwork for benefit concert

When the largest wildfire in Texas history recently ravaged small towns and ranches in the Texas panhandle, Canadian, Texas native Alex Moreno-Gonzalez, a senior composition student in the Rice University Shepherd School of Music , knew he had to do something to help.

Artwork for benefit concert

The talented young musician, known around campus for creating an original composition in celebration of Rice President Reginald DesRoches’ inauguration , has organized a benefit concert for Canadian wildfire relief at the Midtown Arts and Theatre Center Houston at 7 p.m. March 26.

“My hometown of Canadian has supported me in so many wonderful ways,” Moreno-Gonzalez said. “It is devastating to see so many friends and community members who have supported me and my endeavors lose everything as a result of the Smokehouse Creek Fire .”

In the past, Moreno-Gonzalez has not been shy about giving back to the community that has given him so much. In 2022, he brought his fellow Shepherd School students to Canadian for “Full Circle — A Musical Museum Experience.” The event included a premiere of new music works and community outreach in collaboration with Canadian’s Citadelle Art Museum . And Moreno-Gonzalez is showing up for his community now when it needs it the most.

“With the help of Shepherd School Governing Council member S. Shawn Stephens and Wendie Cook from my hometown, I am hopeful we can raise much-needed funds to help the dozens of families in Canadian whose livelihoods have been destroyed,” he said.

According to Cook, Canadian has experienced 54 complete home losses with 62 children displaced and more than 1.1 million acres burned.

“The Texas Panhandle is responsible for 28% of the U.S. beef production,” Cook said. “Grass is essential to feeding America’s beef. There’s no doubt that many rancher’s livelihoods are devastated.”

The concert will begin with an information session about the fire and its devastating aftermath in Canadian and Hemphill County, Texas, with images and videos displayed. Repertoire for the concert will include Moreno-Gonzalez’s “Echoes of A Reflection,” a piece for cello and harp, and “Art Deco Suite,” a piano quintet commissioned by the Citadelle Art Museum as part of the “Full Circle — A Musical Museum Experience.” Additional repertoire from other artists will be announced prior to the concert. All selections will be performed by Shepherd School students.

Tickets for the event are $10 for students and $50-$100 for other attendees and available online here . Tax deductible donations can also be made online and will benefit the Amarillo Area Foundation/Canadian Fire Relief Fund.