Inside the Houston Symphony

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

Posts Tagged ‘Robert Franz

Beautiful music in the heart of Houston

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Conductor Krzystof Urbanski will lead the Orchestra during the June 26 concert. Photo credit: DG Photography

Over the next few weeks, we hope you’ll all be able to join us at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park for Summer Symphony Nights – a series of free concerts featuring exciting repertoires and the chance for an affordable night out on the town! Here’s a quick rundown of what we have to offer (and remember, all concerts are FREE and begin at 8:30 p.m.):

During this year’s performances, we’re excited to add some interesting technological twists to the mix. At June 17th’s “Tweetcert,” you’ll be able to follow our Twitter feed (@HouSymphony) to read live, up-to-the-minute program notes written by Assistant Conductor Brett Mitchell. We’ll also have the audience vote via text message for the encore during our June 18th concert. The pieces to choose from will be Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5, Rossini’s Overture to The Barber of Seville or Rossini’s Overture to William Tell – each one sure to be a delight!

And what would summer be without some great pictures? Throughout the entire series, we’re inviting you to enter our first-ever photo contest (which we’ve named OH SNAP!), and we look forward to selecting some of the best photos to win!

So, when you’re on your way into Miller, make sure and grab a Symphony hand fan – it will include all of the info you need to participate in these activities! For more information about the programs, conductors and guest artists for Symphony Summer Nights, please visit us online.


Private rehearsals a real treat for donors

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Associate Conductor Robert Franz was a hit during the Pink Martini private rehearsal on April 29.

As I scroll through the past blogs of my colleagues, trying to move past the writer’s block that I am having, I can’t help but notice how great and intimate the blogs are.  Of course, you’re probably thinking that this is a really biased opinion. But seriously, we have done a pretty good job with giving you the inside scoop of what happens within this organization.  If you like these blogs, you would definitely enjoy our private rehearsals.

Thursday, April 29 was the final private rehearsal for the 2009-10 season. There is no better way to connect with the Houston Symphony than to go to our private rehearsals.  Throughout the year, we have 5 rehearsals that are opened exclusively for our Houston Symphony donors who donate $100 or more to our annual fund.  Three out of the five private rehearsals are for upcoming classical performances. However, the other two rehearsals are part of the Pops series. Since Samantha already gave you the scoop on what the rehearsals are in her blog a few weeks ago, I won’t bore you with any more technical details.

This private rehearsal featured the music that was played for the Woodlands performance and the first half of the Pink Martini concert this past weekend.  Conducting the concert was our very personable and quirky family and education concerts conductor Robert Franz.  The pieces performed during these concerts hold special significance, as Franz explains to the audience before the rehearsal starts, because they are tribute to Houston icon and arts philanthropist Cynthia Woods Mitchell.

The rehearsal began its very festive and exciting­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ journey through great works of opera with Overture to Die Zauberflöte.  The spirit of the music continued with the Triumphal March from Aida, and then we settled in to stay a while in Spanish territory (as portrayed by French composer George Bizet) with five selections from the opera Carmen.  After the first piece, I knew that I was going to be in heaven because I absolutely love opera.  It was so great to hear some of the best and most well-known opera scores played by the Symphony.  We rounded up our trip through the opera world with the Overture to Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld). The rehearsal was completed with selections from Evita, Flying to Rio, and Tchaikovsky’s Capricio Italien.

Robert worked hard to complete the program without an intermission, but he gave audience members and the musicians a break before conducting the Tchaikovsky.  I decided that this would be a perfect chance to mingle with a few of their patrons and get some reactions to the music.

I first approached Ms. Debra Ortega, guest of our patron John Beury.  Debra occasionally accompanies John to the private rehearsals.  She has been to a few classical concerts but this was her first Pops performance.  When I asked her what she thought of the rehearsal, she said that she really liked it.  She confessed that the classical music she normally hears when she comes to the rehearsals didn’t really appeal to her. “It moves a little too slowly, and I have to admit I have fallen asleep before”.  However, she liked this rehearsal because the music is upbeat and exciting.

Niki Demaio has been a contributor and subscriber of the Houston Symphony for about 5 years now.   When I asked her and her guests their opinion about the show, they had a lot to say.  “I have been to a lot of private rehearsals and this one was one of the best.  This is actually my first time seeing Robert Franz conduct a performance and he is so personable and inviting.  He gave a speech at the beginning to give us a little background about the concert and introduced each piece as it was being played.  Also, when he gave notes to the orchestra you could actually hear him.  A lot of the conductors speak in hushed tones during the other rehearsals that I have been to and it’s really hard to hear what’s going on.  Because Franz spoke loudly, I felt like he was inviting us into the conversation, and it wasn’t some big secret.  It really makes a difference when you engage with the audience.

“I always try to bring my friends with me when I go, and one of things my friend Jane likes about going to the rehearsal is hearing the process of what happens when you work on a piece.  During the first run through she will try to listen for mistakes.  After the conductor has given his notes and runs through it again, she listens out for the changes that were made and how the piece is making its way toward perfection.”

So it seems that our last private rehearsal was a success.  Even though it was a smaller turnout because it is the one daytime rehearsal we open to the public, all the patrons left musically fulfilled and excited about going to next year’s private rehearsals.  It is never too late to join in on the experience for next year.  Just contact any of the Patron Services Specialists in the Development Department, and we will be happy to assist you.

Written by jessicajf

May 10, 2010 at 9:56 am

Is it summer already?!

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Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt

This post comes from Melissa, one of our marketing directors. She lives and breathes anything having to do with special projects, including The Planets — An HD Odyssey, the summer concert series as well as our holiday concerts, to name a few. Is it summer already? Melissa’s excited for you guys to come see us!

I took my 7-year-old daughter to her first, in her words “grown-up concert” last night — Eschenbach and Lang Lang.

She’s been to many of the Sounds Like Fun! and Weatherford Family series concerts over the years. She remembers fondly when conductor Robert Franz was wheeled out on stage dressed as Toto to start the Wizard of OZ concert, and  I thought for sure her favorite piece that day would be the Orchestral Suite from the Wizard of Oz. But it turns out it was Mosolov’s Iron Foundry from Stal’ because it “sounded just like I think a factory would sound, Mom.” With that comment, I thought she’d be ready to attend a Houston Symphony evening concert.

My daughter has been taking piano lessons for almost 2 years and loves listening to classical music, mainly Baroque—because she can dance her latest ballet moves to Bach, Vivaldi and Handel. So I thought she would enjoy hearing young musicians in the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra and Lang Lang.

Last night, she marveled at the speed at which the violins played Prokovfiev’s First Symphony. And we were close enough to the stage that when Lang Lang sat down to the piano she openly worried “Mom, he forgot something!”  I then explained to my young piano student that Lang Lang has memorized what he is going to play—and that comment was met with the certain all to familiar look of “are you sure?”

You may be wondering how this all ties in to the title of this blog. Well, after intently listening to Prokovfiev’s First Symphony and the first two movements of the Piano Concerto, my 7-year-old was fast asleep in her chair. As I looked over and watched her, I shook my head in wonder at how fast time flies, how another school year is almost over, how we are planning summer camps and family vacations, and how I am planning the marketing campaigns for another Symphony Summer in the City season.  I debated if I should end that last sentence with a period or an exclamation mark—-I haven’t decided how I actually feel about that just yet! You’ll have to ask me when I am working out the marketing plans for our Christmas concerts in June!

Check out the Houston Symphony website, where we’re announcing the Symphony Summer in the City schedule. You will be able to see when we are performing free concerts in a neighborhood near you as a part of our Sounds Like Fun! series and at Miller Outdoor Theatre — both for our June classical concerts and our annual 4th of July concert.

If you are anything like me, you’ll wonder “where did the time go?” But you’ve enjoyed every minute of that wild, wonderful, hectic and beautiful journey called life.

Written by Houston Symphony

April 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm