Houston Symphony Announces Its 2015-16 Season & Plans a Trip Way South

The one and only Matthew Morrison of Glee
The one and only Matthew Morrison of Glee
Photo courtesy of Houston Symphony

In announcing its 2015-16 Season, the Houston Symphony says its Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada will take the orchestra to Colombia for its first performances in South America.

Closer to home, POPS programming will feature Glee star Matthew Morrison; and the music of the Beatles, Carole King, Frank Sinatra, and John Williams. There will also be a film presentation of Singin' in the Rain, with live orchestral score.

In general, the symphony plans to expand globally during its 102nd season, and is offering a number of world premieres in addition to the second installment of a three-year Beethoven cycle featuring the Eroica and Symphony No. 9.

In its press release, the symphony stated:

In his second season as Music Director, Orozco-Estrada will build on the powerful artistic bond he has cultivated with Houston Symphony musicians, which has already resulted in dynamic performances and record ticket sales. Classical performances in his inaugural season have resulted in 14% more individual ticket buyers, representing more diverse ethnicities than ever before in the orchestra's history. Orozco-Estrada carefully curates his programs to feature engaging combinations of classical masterworks paired with the music of today, significant artistic collaborations with composers and guest artists, innovative use of multimedia and visual effects and meaningful connections with the audience.

"Throughout my inaugural season, I began to establish a unique musical language and relationship with the orchestra, which we continue to strengthen with every performance," says Orozco-Estrada. "In my second season, I look forward to creating even deeper connections with a diverse community that has already embraced me from all corners of the city. I invite every Houstonian to experience a Symphony concert, and allow their eyes and ears to see and hear the beautiful universe that is an orchestra."

Some highlights of the 2015-16 Season (For a complete list go to houstonsymphony.org).

Opening Night World-famous violinist Joshua Bell returns to the Houston Symphony to open the 2015-16 season on September 12, performing William David Brohn's West Side Story Suite, an arrangement of Leonard Bernstein's classical score that was written especially for Bell.

Music of the Americas One of Orozco-Estrada's thematic threads for the 2015-16 classical season will be a particular focus on music from the American continents. Music from North American composers Samuel Barber, Pierre Jalbert, James Horner and Leonard Bernstein will be featured throughout the season. Additionally, Orozco-Estrada will continue to explore his South American heritage during Fiesta Sinfónica, juxtaposing music of that continent with music from North America. The Fiesta Sinfónica programs will couple works from both continents, placing together music of North American composer Leonard Bernstein, Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas and South American composers Heitor Villa-Lobos and Astor Piazzolla.

Collaborations with Composers The coming season will highlight several notable collaborations with composers. American pianist and composer Gabriela Lena Frank returns for her second season as composer-in-residence, with the orchestra performing two of her works: a concerto commissioned by the Houston Symphony and written by Frank for Principal Viola Wayne Brooks. The concerto, entitled La Llorona (the Weeping Woman), is inspired by the Latin American legend of a female ghost who wanders earth after her death. The symphonic work, entitled Escaramuza (Skirmish), is a high-energy romp inspired by the music and dances of Perú.

The season will also feature premieres of two new works: Andrés and the Symphony have commissioned prominent American composer and Grammy®- and Academy Award-winner John Corigliano and will present the world premiere of the orchestral version of his work Stomp.

In addition, the Houston Symphony has partnered with the International Horn Society to co-commission the Concerto for Four Horns and Orchestra from American film composer James Horner (Titanic, Avatar), which will feature the Houston Symphony's Principal Horn William VerMeulen and Associate Principal Horn Robert Johnson along with their counterparts at the London Philharmonic.

In-Depth Composer Explorations: Beethoven, Sibelius, Dvořák and Ives Orozco-Estrada will continue a comprehensive focus on the works of several composers as a way of exploring music with the audience in a more in-depth manner. In spring 2016, the Symphony will resume its focus on Beethoven with "3 Weeks of Beethoven," featuring Symphony No. 3, Eroica and the iconic Symphony No. 9, Choral, as well as the Second and Eighth Symphonies. This will be the second installment of Andrés' three-season cycle of all nine symphonies, following last season's performances of the First, Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, and culminating in the 2016-17 season with the Sixth and Seventh Symphonies.

Masterworks by the Great Composers Orozco-Estrada will open the 2015-16 classical season of eighteen concert weekends with a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 5, one of the most powerful symphonies of all time. Other orchestral masterpieces to be performed include Dvořák's Symphony No. 6, the Slavonic Dances, and the Symphony No. 9, From The New World, which will be featured in The Cosmos--The HD Odyssey; Brahms' Symphony No. 2 as well as his Piano Concerto No. 2 with the great Emanuel Ax; the Grieg Piano Concerto with Gabriela Montero; Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique; Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances; Orff's Carmina Burana; Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet; Faure's Requiem; and Bernstein's Chichester Psalms.

International Reach & Touring The Houston Symphony welcomes the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia (Colombian Youth Philharmonic - FJC) in July 2015 as they join the Houston Symphony, the Houston Symphony Chorus and the Houston Children's Chorus for side-by-side performances of Carl Orff's epic Carmina Burana under the baton of Orozco-Estrada, who is the youth orchestra's artistic advisor. Nearly one hundred students of the FJC will travel to Houston for the experience of a lifetime, rehearsing and performing with the virtuoso musicians of the Houston Symphony. The collaboration is part of a dual-residency that will send fourteen Houston Symphony musicians to Colombia in June to instruct and coach students of the FJC in advance of their trip to Houston.

Tour to Colombia Expanding the orchestra's connection to Orozco-Estrada's native Colombia even further, and extending the Houston Symphony's global presence, Andrés will bring the orchestra to South America for the very first time, with concerts scheduled in June 2016 in Medellín and Bogotá, and with other dates and cities to be announced. This touring activity follows the Symphony's most recent performances in Russia in June 2012 as part of the Festival of the World's Symphony Orchestras, and a seven-city, eight-concert tour through the United Kingdom in 2010 for sold-out performances of The Planets--An HD Odyssey.

2015-16 BBVA COMPASS POPS OVERVIEW

Conductor Transition in POPS Leadership Principal POPS Conductor and beloved Houston favorite Michael Krajewski has announced that he will step down at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season, following 17 years of exemplary leadership. Succeeding Michael will be frequent Houston Symphony POPS conductor Steven Reineke, who is also the Music Director of The New York POPS, Principal POPS Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center and Principal POPS Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

In commenting on the transition, Michael Krajewski says: "My tenure with this fabulous orchestra in this wonderful city has been a true joy for me, both personally and professionally; however, I have made the decision to turn the page and embrace the next chapter of my career. I will be passing the baton to my colleague Steven Reineke, a familiar face to Symphony audiences. In the meantime, I look forward to conducting my final two seasons with the Houston Symphony."

In recognition of BBVA Compass' leadership commitment to the series, the Houston Symphony POPS will be known as the BBVA Compass POPS beginning with the 2015-16 season, and is part of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell POPS at Jones Hall.


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