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Monthly Archives: February 2010
The new Houston Symphony season promises to be a momentous one. With several new collaborations, a new concert master, orchestra member solo spotlights and unique explorations of works, Hans Graf and the Houston Symphony have brought new ideas and innovation back to the concert stage. This is a season you will not want to miss!
Classical guest artists include returning friends of the Houston Symphony Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham and Yefim Bronfman, while debuting a new generation of musical talent in pianists Gabriela Montero and Markus Groh and conductors Juanjo Mena and Juraj Valcuha. Classical season highlights include Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, Verdi’s Requiem, Scheherazade and Ravel’s Bolero.
Among the POPS line-up, Kenny Loggins, Chris Botti, and Broadway’s Mary Poppins, Ashley Brown, will visit Jones Hall in the new season. The POPS season also includes an homage to Frank Sinatra with another Houston debut artist, Matt Dusk. Ellis Hall, an American artist also making his Houston Symphony debut, will perform a tribute concert to Ray Charles. Hall was a former protégé and friend of the great Ray Charles.
In addition, the Houston Symphony is proud to announce our new concertmaster, Frank Huang, an award-winning violinist who grew up in the Houston area.
“Growing up in Houston, I loved going to symphony performances, and I feel so honored to be able to come back now and actually be a part of them!” said Mr. Huang. “It is so exciting to return to my hometown, and I am really looking forward to getting to know all the wonderful musicians and staff at the symphony.”
He debuts with the Symphony on Opening Night Saturday, September 11, 2010, performing Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante with Wayne Brooks, principal violist.
The Houston Symphony is also proud to announce several new collaborations this season. In November, 2010, the Houston Symphony will perform Lawrence Siegel’s Kaddish “I Am Here” in partnership with the Holocaust Museum Houston. The oratorio includes lyrics derived from interviews with 15 Holocaust survivors – four of whom live in Houston. In February of 2011, Hans Graf will conduct the concert Ravel’s Spain with Bolero where singers from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, featuring Susanne Mentzer, will join the Houston Symphony for a night of comedy with Ravel’s comedic one-act opera, The Spanish Hour followed by one of the most popular works ever written, Bolero. In the POPS arena, we’ll team up with the University of North Texas’ One O’Clock Lab Band in November to form the biggest band in Texas. This extravaganza, titled One O’Clock Swings! will feature songs from jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Count Basie and John Coltrane. Plus, include standards from the Great American Songbook with songs from Cole Porter and others.
This season, hear solos from your own Houston Symphony orchestra members: Frank Huang, newly appointed concertmaster; Brinton Averil Smith, principal cellist; Wayne Brooks, principal violist and Aralee Dorough, principal flute.
The Classical season includes the concert Exploring Mahler 10, in which Maestro Graf and special guest, Fred Child, host of American Public Media’s Performance Today, will explore Mahler’s Symphony No. 10. This work was left unfinished at the time of Gustav Mahler’s death and was completed by British composer, Deryck Cooke, Join the Houston Symphony as we explore the completion with musical examples, images and discussions.
Tickets to these stellar concerts and more are available now through subscription only. As a subscriber, you get the best seats, added subscriber benefits and a season you won’t forget. Renewing subscribers receive FREE parking if you renew by March 5th. Click here for full details of the 2010-2011 Season and to purchase your subscription.
HOUSTON (February 19, 2010) – Bobby Tudor, president of the Houston Symphony Society, announced the appointment of Mark C. Hanson as the new Executive Director and CEO of the Houston Symphony, effective May 1. Currently, Hanson serves as the President and Executive Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO).
“We are thrilled with Mark’s acceptance,” said Tudor. “We feel that his energy and experience, especially his successes in Milwaukee, will be instrumental in continuing the forward progress at the Houston Symphony.” The Houston Symphony Society conducted a thorough search beginning August 2009 upon the resignation of Matthew VanBeisen who accepted the Managing Director post at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
In commenting on Hanson’s appointment, Music Director Hans Graf said, “I was very impressed with his achievements in Milwaukee, and I am very much looking forward to working with him in the coming seasons.”
The Orchestra Committee of the Houston Symphony released a statement saying, “We congratulate Mark on his appointment and welcome him to Houston.”
In a bit of trivia, this is not Hanson’s first time working at the Houston Symphony. While a participant in the League of American Orchestras’ Orchestra Management Fellowship Program, a year-long leadership program, Hanson trained at the Houston Symphony, New York Philharmonic and Syracuse Symphony Orchestra during the 1997-98 season. A native of Boston, Hanson began his undergraduate studies as a cello performance major at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He then transferred to and graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies.
“I am thrilled to become a part of the Houston Symphony family once again. So too is my wife, Christina, a proud graduate of Rice University and The Shepherd School of Music. I have long respected the Orchestra’s artistic quality and commitment to the City of Houston; more recently, I have admired the collaborative efforts of Hans Graf, the Orchestra, administration and Board, and congratulate the Houston Symphony on its recent Carnegie Hall success,” said Hanson.
Hanson has served as the Milwaukee Symphony’s President and Executive Director since January 2004, during which time the orchestra appointed Edo de Waart as music director and Marvin Hamlisch as principal pops conductor. Under Hanson’s leadership, the MSO has undertaken major artistic projects such as Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand, Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle with sets designed by Dale Chihuly, and a Naxos recording of Roberto Sierra’s Missa Latina with the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus, and doubled the number of full-orchestra performances outside of its primary hall. In partnership with his musician colleagues, Hanson negotiated two four-year orchestra contracts and a ground-breaking Local Internet agreement that allowed the MSO to become the first American orchestra to release live recordings on iTunes.
In collaboration with a strong administrative staff and Board of Directors, Hanson has helped the MSO to increase average capacity sold from 58% in 2004 to 70% in 2009 and more than double annual contributed income from individuals, foundations and corporations. Actively involved in the Greater Milwaukee Committee, a group of prominent business leaders, and many other civic activities, Hanson has been recognized by Milwaukee Magazine as a “Next Generation Leader” and by the Business Journal of Milwaukee as one of the region’s “Most Influential People”.
Between 2001 and 2003, Hanson served as executive director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, where he successfully expanded the Orchestra’s community programming and audience base, while considerably improving the Orchestra’s financial position. He was awarded the Helen M. Thompson Award for Exceptional Leadership by the League of American Orchestras in 2003.
“Broadway’s Piano Man” Michael Cavanaugh charmed audiences starring in Billy Joel’s musical Movin’ Out on Broadway. Now, he’s on tour and bringing the best of Billy to Houston with your Houston Symphony next weekend, Feb. 26-28, 2010!
Ahead of Cavanaugh’s performances with us, we wanted to pass along a little more information about him. Read up, watch some of his videos, and we hope to see you all at Jones Hall next weekend.
- Michael began playing piano at age 7, when his parents bought their first piano.
- He is most recognized from his lead role in the Broadway musical Movin’ Out. In February 2001, while playing at the New York, New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Joel himself handpicked Cavanaugh for the role. The two have even performed together on stage!
- Cavanaugh performed in Movin’ Out for three years and close to 1,200 performances, and in 2003, received both Grammy and Tony Award nominations.
- Shortly after his tremendous success in Movin’ Out, Cavanaugh began touring across the country performing before hundreds of thousands of fans at various events, including the PGA Tour, U.S. Open and Indy 500.
- During his concerts in Houston, he’ll perform some of Billy Joel’s hits, including “Only The Good Die Young,” “Uptown Girl” and “New York State of Mind.”
- Click here to check out Michael Cavanaugh’s YouTube channel, where you can see clips of him performing and also hanging out behind-the-scenes.
- Billy Joel has a slew of videos online, and at his official YouTube channel, you can see the latest and greatest of the Piano Man.
- Fan Michael on Facebook to stay up-to-date with his tour, and while you’re there, fan us too!
If you’d like to purchase tickets to Michael Cavanaugh Sings Billy Joel and More, they’re available by calling the box office at (713) 224-7575 or visiting us online.
Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be complete without the ultimate music playlist, now would it? We’ve put together a short list of some romantic melodies to get your heart racing, and the best part is that you’ll be able to see these all performed live by your Houston Symphony, this season or next!
- Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture: April 8, 10, 11, 2010
- Barber’s Violin Concerto: April 8, 10, 11, 2010
- Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 3: May 21, 22, 23, 2010
- Grieg’s Piano Concerto: Nov. 26, 27, 28, 2010
- Ravel’s Bolero: Feb. 11, 12, 13, 2011
- Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini: March 4, 5, 6 2011
- Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2: May 19, 21, 22, 2011
Happy Valentine’s Day from everyone here at Houston Symphony!
In honor of Valentine’s Day this weekend, we wanted to delve into something a little different – the love stories behind some of classical music’s greatest names. Whether it was Beethoven and his “Immortal Beloved,” or Robert and Clara Schumann, it goes without saying that some of the most beautiful pieces ever written came to pass because of a heart in love.
Ludwig van Beethoven may very well be the most well-known when it comes to unrequited love. In 1812 while he recovered from illness in the Bohemian spa town of Teplitz, Beethoven wrote three letters to his “Immortal Beloved”—an unnamed woman who’s identity is still secret to this day. Filled with passion, it is from these letters that the famous signature “ever thine, ever mine, ever ours” came. The letters were found only after his death, and are worth a read if you haven’t seen them already. A few years earlier, in 1800, Beethoven met and fell in love with Giulietta Guicciardi. He went on to dedicate his famous Moonlight Sonata to her, and although they planned to marry, were not able to because Giulietta’s father didn’t approve. She went on to marry, but Beethoven never did.
One of the most influential composers of the 19th century, Giuseppe Verdi, met Margherita Barezzi when her father, Antonio, chose him to be her music teacher. They fell deeply in love, married in 1836, and had two children, both of whom died as infants. Margherita passed soon thereafter, while Verdi was composing his second opera, Un giorno di regno (King for a Day). Already completely devastated at the loss of his family, when the opera failed, Verdi vowed to give up classical composition forever. Thankfully for us, he didn’t, because it wasn’t until 1850 that he composed one of his most masterpieces, Rigoletto.
Perhaps one of the loveliest stories is that of Robert and Clara Schumann. They first fell in love in 1836, but didn’t marry until 1840 because of her father’s adamant refusal. Schumann is said to have courted Clara through letters and secret rendezvous, even taking the chance to see her for only a few minutes after some of her piano concerts. The year they finally tied the knot, Robert wrote 168 songs, which is attributed to his marital bliss. When Robert died in 1856, Clara dedicated the rest of her days to performing his music and keeping his memory alive. There’s even a 1983 German Film called Frühlingssinfonie that portrayed their romance, as well as Twin Spirits—a special look into their story through words and music at the Royal Opera House.
The love felt through the pieces these men composed is a love that often comes from an untold story. We don’t know all of the meanings behind their work, but hope you’ll feel the music a bit more deeply the next time you hear it at the Houston Symphony.
Note: This blog posting was redirected from our SymphonE-News, a bi-weekly electronic newsletter from the Houston Symphony. To sign up for SymphonE-News, click here!