The fact of the matter is, we want you to get to know us, and how the concerts you love seeing at Jones Hall come to life.
We want you to see all that goes into bringing everyone to the Jones Hall stage–from Yo-Yo Ma and Marin Alsop to the Beach Boys and Pink Martini. All of us here at the Symphony have one thing in common: we LOVE music and want you all to love it, too. What better way to give back to our loyal concert-goers than to give them an inside peek into how it all goes down? Between the concerts, special events and parties, there are also great educational and outreach programs. We hope you’ll get to know the people responsible for the magic.
And as a bonus for those of you who may not be as familiar with classical music or orchestras in general, we hope to teach you a little something on this journey, too!
A rich history
Founded in 1913, the Houston Symphony is one of America’s oldest performing arts organizations, with a rich history of musical excellence. The orchestra has experienced steady artistic growth under the direction of distinguished leaders such as Ernst Hoffmann (1936-47), Efrem Kurtz (1948-54), Ferenc Fricsay (1954), Leopold Stokowski (1955-61), Sir John Barbirolli (1961-67), Andre Previn (1967-69), Lawrence Foster (1971-78), Sergiu Comissiona (1979-88) and Christoph Eschenbach (1988-99). Maestro Hans Graf, who took the podium in September 2001, is the Houston Symphony’s 15th music director.
The orchestra came of age in the 1940s as Maestros Hoffmann and Kurtz hired strong professional musicians who remained part of the orchestra for 30 or more years. Leopold Stokowski brought the orchestra international visibility by commissioning new music and making recordings and, in Sir John Barbirolli’s years, the Houston Symphony flowered under the influence of lush English Romanticism. The orchestra moved into Jones Hall, its current home, in 1966, and in 1971, the Symphony signed its first 52-week contract with the musicians. The Houston Symphony has become widely acclaimed as one of the top orchestras in the world.
The Houston Symphony fills each busy season with more than 170 concerts attended by an estimated 350,000 people each year. These concerts include the Fidelity Investments Classical Series, made up of the TOTAL Gold Classics, The Shell Favorite Masters, the Fayez Sarofim Great Performers and the Spectrum, Fire and Sound Plus Vision series; the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pops series; a gala Opening Night Concert; Messiah performances at Christmas, Family Concerts, the Chevron Fiesta Sinfonica Familiar, the Dollar Concert and the Salute to Educators Concert. During the summer, the orchestra performs the Summer in the City series and performs at its official summer home, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, tours the region with free Sounds Like Fun! concerts for children and presents the free Target Summer Symphony Nights concerts at Miller Outdoor Theatre, where it has performed for more than 60 years.
The Symphony’s newest outreach endeavor, the Houston Symphony Community Connections, involves musicians volunteering their time to go into the community, at no charge, as soloists, in small-ensembles or as music coaches. Each season, musicians reach more than 15,000 Houstonians in schools, hospitals, retirement homes, shelters and community centers.