I have always enjoyed music. My parents had a subscription to the Houston Symphony for many years. My first memory of going to the Symphony was in junior high school. My family was downtown at an event that was not interesting to me so my dad bought me a ticket to the Symphony – it was summer and I was wearing shorts so the seat in the top balcony allowed me to enjoy the music without feeling too self-conscious.
Playing the trombone was a large part of my youth. I gave it my all when I competed in state competitions and performed with the marching band at school. A highlight was having the privilege of playing with the Houston Symphony at the Festival of Schools back in 1983 and 1984. Performing Tchaikovsky and Dvořák symphonies alongside Allen Barnhill is something I will never forget.
Although I no longer play, music continues to have an influence on my life. My second date with my now wife was at the Houston Symphony. We have been subscribers ever since. Together we also experience music worldwide, from comedic Chinese opera, to the surprisingly melodic yet rudimentary instruments of Burkina Faso, to a quick weekend jaunt “across the pond” to hear the London Symphony’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet or the Proms in Gothenburg, Sweden. Even going on safari brings us to Maasai chants, Samburu instruments, and common church hymns with an African beat. Music has a way of making you feel at home wherever you are.
But we always enjoy coming home to Jones Hall to hear our Houston Symphony. I tend to like the large orchestral works while my wife favors chamber music, so the variety of music performed by the symphony is much enjoyed. Our favorite recent memory was at the end of the Verdi Requiem — the piece was so moving that instead of immediate applause the audience just sat in silence until the echoes from the music stopped. We look forward to many more moments in the future seasons.
-Mark Smith, donor and subscriber