A Musical Mentor Celebrates Success

In May 2016, we published a post about a talented, young saxophone player named Salvador Flores. In the post below, Salvodor’s mentor, Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musician David Connor, gives us an uplifting update regarding this young Houstonian’s most recent accomplishments.

Community-Embedded Musician David Conner with students at Galena Park High School in 2016.

Galena Park High School band director Jessie Meng and Community-Embedded Musician David Conner work with students in 2015.

Every once in a while, the Houston Symphony is fortunate to work with some of the music world’s rising stars. As one of the Symphony’s Community-Embedded Musicians, I get to be on the front lines of these exciting partnerships by making regular visits to work with band and orchestra students through our annual High School Residencies. Throughout the year, the Houston Symphony musicians and I get to be a part of the musical growth of both ensembles and individual musicians. One such musician who has made all of us particularly proud is saxophonist Salvador Flores of the Galena Park High School Band.

Salvador (pictured at right, the first in the row) rehearses with fellow band students at Galena Park High School.

Salvador (pictured at right, the first in the row) rehearses with fellow band students (2015).

I met Salvador at the beginning of his junior year on my first visit to Galena Park High School. The students were getting ready for their solo and ensemble competition, and I was blown away by the preparation and fine musicianship that I heard from each of the musicians that played that day. When Salvador played a viciously difficult étude on the alto saxophone with the clarity and nuance that you would expect from a seasoned professional, I couldn’t believe my ears. Salvador had just started to take private lessons and had never left Houston to study with anyone else. I knew he wanted to pursue music, so I sat down with his wonderful teacher, Jessie Meng, and we came up with a plan.

Salvador was already first chair of the Texas All-State Band (no small feat as a sophomore), so we hoped to send him further afield to the kind of challenging environment that would push him to achieve more. He applied and was accepted to the Interlochen Center for the Arts for their two-month summer festival. Here he made an important connection with professor Timothy McAllister, who performed John Adams’ Saxophone Concerto with the Houston Symphony during our 2016-17 season. To say they hit it off would be an understatement based on how much Salvador grew over the summer.

Salvador performs for patrons before a recent Houston Symphony concert at Jones Hall.

Salvador performs for patrons before a recent Houston Symphony concert at Jones Hall.

Not only did he come back with an incredible command of the instrument, he had a determination and focus that you don’t typically see at his age. He knew what competitions he would apply for and what college he wanted to attend. At this point we got to all sit back and watch as Salvador won a prize at the prestigious YoungArts Competition in Miami in January. Later that spring, he was accepted into his top choice college, the University of Michigan with professor Timothy McAllister! We are so happy to see Salvador flourish and to be a part of his network of support.

We expect big things from Salvador, who throughout his journey has remained humble and continues to lift and support his colleagues in the Galena Park High School Band. If you would like to help Salvador make the next step, you can help provide the much-needed funds for Salvador’s books, supplies, and flights to and from the University of Michigan through his gofundme campaign. We’ll all be watching Salvador, and we look forward to seeing him in Houston and wherever his path may lead him!

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