Inside the Houston Symphony

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Archive for the ‘Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pops at Jones Hall’ Category

Broadway really does Rock!

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You don't even have to leave Houston to get a taste of Broadway this weekend!

So, when looking around the conference room during a recent marketing meeting, our resident blog expert rested her eyes on me and said “YOU should right a blog for Broadway Rocks!”  Broadway Rocks, in case you are wondering, is the first POPS concert of the Houston Symphony’s 2010-2011 Season.  It opens this Friday, September 3rd.  The concert includes songs from what we are calling “the latest generation” of Broadway musicals.  The NEW classics (pardon the oxymoron).  Things like Wicked, Rent, Mamma Mia! and The Lion King.  Of course, there are some golden oldies.  How could you do a Broadway concert without a little Phantom of the Opera and the like?

Why did she suggest I write the blog about Broadway Rocks, you ask?  Well, because I am the just the biggest musical theater geek in this entire organization.  My conversations regularly are snippets of Broadway songs that are sung at whomever I’m addressing at the moment.  My belief is that it is a lot more fun to sing and dance your way through your everyday life.  It’s either that, or the fact that I did marketing for an organization that brought touring Broadway shows to local markets, and I worked there for many years.

Julia Murney, who played Elphaba in "Wicked" on Broadway, will be one of the featured vocalists this weekend.

One of the perks of my former job was that once a year, I was “required” to go to New York for a week and see as many shows as I could.  I know…such torture!  So, I’ve had the privilege to see many of the shows that are going to be featured in the upcoming Broadway Rocks concert.  When we first talked about programming this concert, my true colors were seen probably for the first time.  I was new at the time, and when this concert was mentioned, I started to grin and wiggle in my seat.  I couldn’t wait to hear what shows we were going to feature.  And I was NOT disappointed.  And imagine my near accident inducing excitement when I learned that Julia Murney who WAS Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway and on tour is going to be here to perform with the orchestra!  It is going to be so amazing to have her and the other Broadway stars with us to perform this music.

So yeah, I’m a little geeked out by this upcoming concert, and I’m not afraid to admit it.  I have been that girl that stands at the stage door after a show to get my program signed when the cast emerges, and that’s okay.  Part of what I love about the Houston Symphony is that we have something for everyone to enjoy, whether it is a Beethoven, the Music of Led Zeppelin or even a little slice of heaven like Broadway Rocks.  Of course that is my slice of heaven, but to each his own.  If this is not up your alley, then I can guarantee we have something that you will enjoy.  And please don’t judge me, “I Am What I Am!”

The first person to comment with the name of the Broadway show I just referenced will win a pair of tickets to Broadway Rocks!

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Two Brothers on a Mission

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Composer and pianist George Gershwin has left his trademark on both classical and popular genres of American music.  But for most of his theatrical works – which include more than a dozen Broadway shows – he had the help of his older brother Ira.  Their partnership will forever be remembered through the great songs they wrote together.  Songs that have touched the minds and hearts of Americans for many decades.

Ira Gershwin was the first lyricist to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the Broadway show, Of Thee I Sing.  His partnership with George also produced several timeless tunes and shows like Lady, Be Good! (1924), and Girl Crazy (1930).  They even co-authored an opera – Porgy and Bess – to which almost anybody can hum the tunes from “Summertime” or “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

If you haven’t done so yet, you should probably hurry and give a listen to some of the dynamic duo’s songs performed by the greats of the golden age of Jazz like Ella Fitzgerald’s “A Foggy Day,” or Billie Holiday’s husky interpretation of “Summertime.”

You’ve surely also heard Harry Connick Jr.’s “Love Is Here to Stay” from the soundtrack of the classic When Harry Met Sally, or Frank Sinatra renditions of the brothers’ songs. Either way, pour yourself a glass of red wine, light the fireplace (even if you have to turn the AC on, since we are in Houston after all), and enjoy the great music these two talented brothers have left us. You won’t be sorry you did.

Written by cevicente

March 23, 2010 at 10:30 am

Broadway’s Piano Man performing with Houston Symphony!

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Michael Cavanaugh

“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.

Written by Houston Symphony

February 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Seeing stars … sort of!

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“When you have a second, I have a little project for you to work on.” That phrase may seem innocent enough, but I’ve learned that when you work in the Artistic department, no project is ever little.

Each concert weekend is the product of months, sometimes years, of painstaking work. What repertoire will be performed for each concert and by whom are big decisions that are made in my department, but with those big decisions come hundreds of small tasks that are necessary to turn the concerts listed on each season brochure into reality.

For example, one of my first projects was creating a slideshow for A Very Merry Pops using childhood photographs of the musicians that was shown on the giant screens during I’ll Be Home for Christmas. So when Amanda, Director of Popular Programming and Special Projects, asked me to help her with another ‘little project’ for an upcoming Pops concert, I couldn’t wait to see what she had in mind.

Turns out, when she decided that the Symphony would do a Red Carpet Oscar Party concert, she really meant it. Perhaps she noticed my minor (OK, moderate!) addiction to pursuing celebrity gossip blogs during my lunch hour. My assignment: bring the red carpet to life in front of Jones Hall … literally. Amanda had visions of concertgoers walking down a red carpet amongst celebrities and paparazzi, and it was up to me to make it happen.

That’s how my search for celebrity impersonators to walk our red carpet began. I discovered that there are hundreds of celebrity impersonators and lookalikes in the U.S., and there is much more than your basic Marilyn Monroe! There’s Benjamin Franklin, Billy Joel, Harry Potter and Hulk Hogan, along with many others, even  Queen Frostina and King Kandy of Candy Land fame, and that’s just for starters! “Would our audiences enjoy Justin Timberlake and Madonna?”, I wondered as I spent many hours scouring impersonator pictures and videos all over the web. Eventually, I found Carbon Copies Celebrity Look Alikes, where I hired three performers from right here in Texas to walk the red carpet with all of you this weekend.

Madonna and Justin didn’t make the cut, though…this time!

Written by Rebecca

February 3, 2010 at 3:49 pm