Inside the Houston Symphony

Taking you behind the music–one concert at a time!

Posts Tagged ‘mozart

Confessions of a gulit-ridden classical music lover

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Dear Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Stravinsky and all of the other great composer “Gods”:

I come to you a musical sinner. It has been … er… a while since my last confession.  I have sinned because I have listened to a variety of Top 40 radio stations every day for a really long time, and, well, um … I really like it.  I know, I know … I’m supposed to listen to NPR and know every symphony and opera and concerto ever performed on the face of the planet.  But I don’t because I’m too busy listening to today’s top hits.  I’m sorry … I guess.

But you have to understand, I just can’t tear myself away from it!  I have fond memories of rocking out to No Doubt as a teenager.  My husband and I happen to love the newest Ludacris album — those beats! Those rhymes!  Lady Antebellum, it is a quarter after one and I really do need you now!  It is a bad romance and you shouldn’t be plagued by the Papa-paparazzi Lady Gaga!

… Sorry … what was I saying?  Oh yes …

Surely you can understand why I’m torn.  I like to think that I’m just a harmless rebel.  I can have my classical music cake and eat it too, just with a decadent layer of modern pop/rap/country/techno goodness on top.  I promise, I love classical music and it is definitely part of my soul.  I guess I just can’t be completely faithful to the genre.  And really, is that a bad thing?  You were a bit of a rebel yourself, Stravinksy. And Mozart, you were kind of like the Jonas brother of your day, with your child prodigy-ness.  Right?

OK, so all I am saying, oh composer “Gods”, is that I like all music.  I can’t help it.  Generally music helps me to express myself a whole lot better than words can.  Sometimes I’m in the mood to listen to a Rachmaninov piano concerto, while other times I’m more in the mood to dance in my car to the newest Beyonce hit.  Does that really make me a musical sinner?  Honestly, I don’t think so.  Hopefully, you all see my argument and can understand.  If not, I guess I will just be forced to go listen to rehearsal as “penance”.

Ha!  As if that is really a punishment … looks like the joke is on you!

Sincerely,
One slightly-guilt-ridden classical music lover

Written by Meredith Williams

May 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

Are you Classical or are you Pops?

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Music Director Hans Graf

So, as I understand it, this blog is meant to put the reader inside the Houston Symphony team, so you can see what we are all about.  It is with that in mind that I write the following …

I have been with the Houston Symphony for about 6 months as the Director of Marketing, Subscriptions.  Before that I worked at another arts organization that shall remain nameless.  Now, while I am a person who does not listen to classical music in my down time, although I will admit that I own and listen to the Mozart Makes You Smarter CD, it has been a part of my life since I was a young girl.

My family is very musical.  My grandfather was the tenor in a barbershop quartet, and both of my parents played instruments in high school and college.  My dad started out as a piano major in college, but switched to an engineering degree once he realized the implications of being a “starving artist.”  And while all of my siblings have ended up in the arts in some way, I went the musical path and went to college to be a music major.  I studied classical music, and became familiar with much of the beautiful repertoire the Houston Symphony plays.  While I was not an instrumentalist, but a vocalist, I spent many semesters in Music History classes, instrumental recitals given by friends and countless hours of sitting in darkened theaters listening to the instrumental classical repertoire.  I will admit, to the disdain of many classical music enthusiasts, that it was not my first choice in musical genre.  Yes, my goal from the very beginning was Broadway.  I wanted to be in Musical Theatre so bad, I could taste it!

So why in the world was I accepted to the very prestigious music school that did not have a single musical theatre class instead of the school that was renowned for that very thing?  Turns out I don’t have the Broadway voice that I coveted, but was very well suited to singing classical music.  So that is what I was taught.  It was an extremely rewarding experience in my life, and I still sing classical repertoire.  But, like my father, I believed my talent was not to the point that I could be anything other than a “starving artist.”  And that is what led me to go into the business side of the Performing Arts.

So, to finally get to the point, I ended up with a strange inner struggle between my love and devotion to Broadway and my admiration and respect for the caliber of music in the classical world.  The good news is I am able to really identify with both the classical and the pops genres that are the Houston Symphony products.  I was not surprised to learn that most people usually drift toward either the classical or the pops side, and I am some sort of hybrid because I like both.  I feel a kinship with those subscribers who have both the classical and the pops series, few though they may be.

Principal Pops Conductor Mike Krajewski

In the marketing world, we try to identify what motivates both the classical and pops buyers.  I find it extremely interesting that the patrons for those two genres are motivated differently.  It is an amazing challenge to try to touch the right points with each potential patron depending on the genre of music they are more likely to have an interest in.  Even though I have only been with the Symphony for a short time, I have the feeling that this challenge is going to be a part of my professional career here for a very long time.  It is one thing I enjoy about the work so much.  My colleagues and I have a hunger to learn about our patrons and what is relevant to them.  What drives them to like one type of music over another, and ultimately, how can I reach them with a message they will act on?  How do I know that one particular person will respond to a concert like Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony versus a concert like Broadway Rocks!?  There are several ways we have identified so far, but I am determined that I will always be asking this question, and always seeking more answers.

In the end, the Houston Symphony has both products, plus several others like the Family and Summer Concert Series’, so we can reach out to the entire city, and hopefully have something everyone will enjoy.  Music is so important, and to be a part of an organization that reaches such a variety of musical tastes is extremely rewarding to me.  Now, on to my challenge of reaching the masses with our message of “We have something for YOU” in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them, and will hopefully lead to more people coming to the Symphony.  We have built it!  Will you come?

Written by Allison Gilbert

April 5, 2010 at 9:33 am

Welcome to the 2010-2011 Houston Symphony season!

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Frank Huang, new Houston Symphony concertmaster

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.

New Concertmaster

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.

Collaborations

Joshua Bell, violin

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.

Spotlights

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.

Exploration

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.

Written by Houston Symphony

February 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm