The Houston Symphony Announces Its 2017-18 Season, Names New Composer-in-Residence

The Suffers at the Symphony.
The Suffers at the Symphony.
Photo courtesy of the Houston Symphony

In today's announcement of the Houston Symphony's 2017-18 season, Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada shows he intends to continue presenting works of major composers as well as embracing newer works and crowd-pleasing pairings.

The Symphony is also announcing Peruvian-born composer Jimmy López as the Symphony's new composer-in-residence. The season begins with an opening-night concert featuring mezzo soprano Susan Graham (Poppea, Dead Man Walking) with guest conductor Gustavo Gimeno.

Other highlights include the celebration of Leonard Bernstein's 100th birthday. This will take place over three weekends.

And here's the chronological listing from the Houston Symphony:

SPECIAL 1 | June 17, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)
Steven Reineke, conductor
Defined as “Gulf Coast Soul,” Houston-born band The Suffers have emerged as one of the hottest musical acts in the country, with a recent appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Now this homegrown octet is bringing their eclectic spin on blues, soul, country, Caribbean, Cajun and hip-hop to The Woodlands this summer with Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke and the Houston Symphony. There’s no better way to celebrate the start of Steven’s tenure than a performance with Houston talent.
Tickets for this performance are available through The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. For more information, please visit The Houston Symphony’s performances at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion are supported by the George P. and Cynthia Mitchell Summer Concerts Fund.

POPS 1 | September 1, 2 (8 p.m.) September 3, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)
Steven Reineke, conductor
Montego Glover, vocalist
Capathia Jenkins, vocalist
N’Kenge, vocalist
We’re kicking off Steven’s Inaugural Season with a program to celebrate one of his all-time favorite artists, Ella Fitzgerald. In honor of her 100th birthday, Steven has lined up three formidable vocal powerhouses. Together, Montego Glover (Tony® nominee), Capathia Jenkins and N’Kenge are delivering music that the world has come to cherish, such as “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” and “Summertime.”

SPECIAL 2 | September 9, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)
Gustavo Gimeno, conductor
Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano
Hailed as “America’s favorite mezzo” (Gramophone Magazine), opera star Susan Graham lends her lustrous voice to our 2017-18 Season’s Opening Night Concert. Featuring arias from her signature stage roles and favorite showtunes, this delightful program will begin the season with gorgeous melodies and Graham’s infectious “joy in her art” (The Telegraph).

CLASSICAL 1 | September 14, 16 (8 p.m.) September 17, 2017 (2:30 p.m.)
Andrés Orozco-Estrada, conductor
Mojca Erdmann, soprano
Nicholas Brownlee, baritone
Houston Symphony Chorus
Betsy Cook Weber, director
Dvo?ák: Te Deum
Mahler: Symphony No. 4
Andrés Orozco-Estrada, conductor Our Classical Series begins with two visions of “The Heavenly Life.” Imbued with the rhythms of Czech folk music, Dvo?ák’s Te Deum evokes a rustic spirituality and features an electrifying ending. Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 conjures a world of innocence and wonder, especially in its vocal finale. A child’s vision of heaven, this song for soprano and orchestra features Mojca Erdmann, who has been praised for the “filigree delicacy” of her voice, which
spins “a silver net of glittering jewels” (Opera News).

CLASSICAL 2 | September 22, 23 (8 p.m.) September 24, 2017 (2:30 p.m.)
Andrés Orozco-Estrada, conductor
Leticia Moreno, violin
Schumann: Symphony No. 1, Spring
J. López: Violin Concerto (World Premiere)
Schumann: Symphony No. 2
Andrés leads the orchestra in two Romantic masterpieces by Schumann which frame an exciting World Premiere. Jimmy López, our new Peruvian-born, California-based Composer-in- Residence, unveils his Violin Concerto, a piece he specially composed for violinist Leticia Moreno and the Houston Symphony. Inspired by brilliant polar auroras, this new work is a feast for the eyes and ears.

SPECIAL 3 | September 25, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)
Garrison Keillor
NPR veteran Garrison Keillor returns to Houston for the first time after stepping down from hosting A Prairie Home Companion following an incredible 42-season run. With his trademark storytelling and candid, observational comedy, Keillor captivates audiences using his unique blend of humor, charisma and wisdom for this one-night event. NOTE: The orchestra will not appear on this program.

CLASSICAL 3| September 28, 30 (8 p.m.) October 1, 2017 (2:30 p.m.)
Vassily Sinaisky, conductor
Borodin: Overture to Prince Igor
Shostakovich: Symphony No.1
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1, Winter Daydreams
Representing the great Russian conducting tradition, Vassily Sinaisky makes his Houston Symphony debut with a thrilling, all-Russian program. Two astonishing first symphonies provide a study in contrasts: Shostakovich’s irreverent wit is the perfect foil for Tchaikovsky’s dreamy melodies. In the hands of Sinaisky, listeners will be “able not only to hear but almost to touch the music” (Cleveland Plain Dealer).

FAMILY 1 | October 7, 2017 (10 & 11:30 a.m.)
Robert Franz, conductor
Ahoy matey! ‘Tis time to grab your parrot and walk the plank into Jones Hall with your little Jack Sparrow for a morning of heroic music. Let your imagination set sail with our pirate program that includes a medley from Pirates of the Caribbean and a selection from The Flying Dutchman. We’re also inviting you on a magical journey with Peter Pan as we take the “Flight to Neverland” by John Williams.

POPS 2 | October 6, 7 (8 p.m.) October 8, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)
Stuart Chafetz, conductor
Nicole Parker, vocalist
Aaron Finley, vocalist
The Houston Symphony is going all out—for Totally ’80s! We’re delivering hit after hit, and highlighting the sounds of a decade influenced by soft rock, unforgettable dance beats and glam metal. Vocalists Nicole Parker and Aaron Finley join guest conductor Stuart Chafetz to perform nostalgic favorites including Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer”; the Billboard chart-topper “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper; Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”; Sting’s “Every Breath You Take”; an Elton John medley, and a nod to great ‘80s movies such as E.T., Back to the Future and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

NAT GEO 1 | October 17, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)
Brian Skerry, photojournalist
Photojournalist Brian Skerry celebrates the sea and its creatures in magnificent images collected during more than 10,000 hours underwater spanning 30 years, including a magical but risky experience photographing an enormous right whale. Since 1998, Skerry has been a contributing photographer for National Geographic magazine, covering a wide range of assignments.

CLASSICAL 4 | October {19} 20, 21 (8 p.m.) October 22, 2017 (2:30 p.m.)
Matthew Halls, conductor
Johannes Moser, cello
Schubert: Symphony No. 5
Haydn: Cello Concerto No. 1
Mozart: Symphony No. 41, Jupiter
Praised for his imagination and fresh insights, conductor Matthew Halls returns to Jones Hall with Viennese masterpieces by Haydn, Mozart and Schubert. Dynamic cellist Johannes Moser brings his virtuoso technique and innate musicality to Haydn’s graceful Cello Concerto No. 1. Completing the concert is Mozart’s final symphonic masterpiece, his dazzling Symphony No. 41, Jupiter. {Note: October 19 performance is part of the Sugar Land Series at Sugar Land Baptist Church.}

CLASSICAL 5| October 26, 28 (8 p.m.) October 29, 2017 (2:30 p.m.)
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Jonathan Biss, piano
Messiaen: The Forgotten Offerings
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5
Ludovic Morlot, the Seattle Symphony’s Grammy® Award-winning Music Director, makes his Classical Series debut with Prokofiev’s epic Symphony No. 5. Composed in the midst of World War II, this symphony was conceived by Prokofiev “as glorifying the grandeur of the human spirit...praising the free and happy man—his strength, his generosity, and the purity of his soul.” Returning to Jones Hall, musical polymath Jonathan Biss performs Beethoven’s lyrical Piano Concerto No. 4.

SPECIAL 3| October 27, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)
What better way to celebrate Halloween than to scream along with Janet Leigh in the infamous shower scene of Alfred Hitchcock’s supreme suspense thriller, Psycho? Every spine-tingling moment is more vivid with Bernard Herrmann’s bone-chilling, iconic score performed in its entirety by the Houston Symphony.

POPS 3 | November 10, 11 (8 p.m.) November 12, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)
Steven Reineke, conductor
Betsy Wolfe, vocalist
Join us for an exciting program of Broadway Today with the incredible Betsy Wolfe (making her Houston debut before starring as Elsa in Broadway’s Frozen). She is helping us celebrate the best of the Great White Way, with songs from The Phantom of the Opera, Once, Chicago, The Book of Mormon, Les Misérables and the showstopper “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret.

CLASSICAL 6| November 17, 18 (8 p.m.) November 19, 2017 (2:30 p.m.)
Andrés Orozco-Estrada, conductor
Denis Kozhukhin, piano
Ives: Symphony No. 3, The Camp Meeting
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 4
Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Blacher: Orchestral Variations on a Theme by Paganini
Andrés and Denis Kozhukhin continue their exciting cycle of Rachmaninoff’s works for piano and orchestra with the ever-popular Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and the Russian master’s Piano Concerto No. 4. The orchestra explores Ives’ quintessentially American music with his Symphony No. 3, The Camp Meeting.

CLASSICAL 7| November 24, 25 (8 p.m.) November 26, 2017 (2:30 p.m.)
Andrés Orozco-Estrada, conductor
James Ehnes, violin
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade
This Thanksgiving, Andrés conducts Rimsky- Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Inspired by 1001 Nights, this sumptuously orchestrated tone poem takes listeners along on the voyages of Sinbad and ends with an electrifying festival at Baghdad. Grammy® Award-winning violinist James Ehnes presents his unforgettable interpretation of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1.

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