Community-Embedded Musicians

New Musicians Focus on Extending the Symphony’s Reach Even Further Into Greater Houston through Education and Community-Based Programs
While Also Performing on Stage for Select Performances. 

The Houston Symphony’s Community-Embedded Musician position, beginning in the 2015-16 Season, is a new initiative designed to embed musicians more deeply in the community and to better represent and serve the diverse population of Greater Houston. The primary role of the four new musicians will focus on directly enhancing the impact of the orchestra’s growing education and community engagement activities.

The Houston Symphony has hired an initial set of four salaried string players whose primary role is to be embedded in Houston schools, neighborhoods and health-care settings as teaching artists and performers, while also performing on stage with members of the Houston Symphony in approximately 25 concerts each year.

These initial four positions have been filled by talented, accomplished musicians who demonstrate a passion and aptitude for education and community engagement work. The selection process entailed both a standard Houston Symphony musical audition adjudicated by musicians of the Houston Symphony, and interviews with Houston Symphony administrative and education leadership.

The Community-Embedded Musicians initiative is supported in part by a generous grant from the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund, a program of the League of American Orchestras made possible by funding from the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation.


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Cuban-born violinist Rainel Joubert has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, the Opera and Ballet Orchestras of Havana and has played for many renowned musicians, including Claudio Abbado, Gidon Kremer, Erick Grossman, Ilmar López Gavilán, Paul Kantor, and the Borromeo String Quartet. His many awards include being named one of the four finalists of the 15th Annual Sphinx Competition, First Prize in the Concerto Competition of the University of Southern Mississippi, and Second Prize in the Violin Competition and Best Interpretation of Cuban Music at the 2006 Union de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (Cuban Artists and Writers Union). As a member of Sphinx Virtuosi (SV) he performed in important halls such as New World Center (Miami), Kennedy Center (Washington), Carnegie Hall (New York), and participated in extensive community engagement activities. He speaks three languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and English) and holds a Master’s Degree in Music Performance from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Anthony Parce has distinguished himself as a violist intent on confirming the vivacity of classical music in the 21st century. During his four-year fellowship at the New World Symphony, Parce organized and produced three interactive concert formats, lectured and performed on the early works and life of Arnold Schoenberg, produced a commemoration of Kristallnacht with narration by local Holocaust survivors, travelled many times to Medellín, Colombia, to teach through the SaludArte Foundation, helped develop the Symphony's virtual library (Musaic), and took an active civic role in refining the curriculum and activities of New World Fellows. Parce has attended the Verbier, Schleswig-Holstein, Tanglewood, Artosphere, and Britten-Piers summer festivals, as well as the National Orchestral Institute, Domaine Forget and the Music Academy of the West. He holds degrees from the New England Conservatory and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, studying with James Dunham, Roger Tapping and Karen Ritscher.
Born and raised on a farm in northern Illinois, Hellen Weberpal began her cello studies at age ten. She received her Bachelor of Music at DePaul University, studying with Steve Balderston, and her Master of Music from Rice University, under the tutelage of the Houston Symphony’s Principal Cellist Brinton Averil Smith. In May 2012, Weberpal won a year-long contract with the Houston Symphony and has been performing regularly with the Symphony since then. Her other orchestral experiences include positions with the Shepherd School Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, the Texas Festival Orchestra, the DePaul Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, among many others. Weberpal is an active chamber musician, earning top prizes in numerous competitions, including the Polish Arts Club of Chicago’s Music Competition, Rockford’s Mendelssohn Club Scholarship, the Northern Illinois University School of the Arts Talent Scholarship, and the Rockford Symphony Youth Concerto competition. Weberpal has worked in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, Klein ISD and Houston ISD as a private cello teacher and sectional coach. In 2011-12, she was a young artist fellow with Da Camera of Houston, where she taught both in the classroom and in the community.
David Connor was born in Chelmsford, MA and began playing the double bass when he was nine years old. He joins the Houston Symphony as a Community-Embedded Musician after two seasons with the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, FL. Connor earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University and his Masters of Music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. While at Rice, he was a fellow of the Da Camera of Houston Young Artist Program for two seasons, which led to many community outreach opportunities and chamber music collaborations in the greater Houston area. Connor has participated in summer festivals including Music Academy of the West, Aspen, Sarasota, Domaine Forget, and the Britten Pears Young Artist Program. He has been a recipient of the Aspen Academy Orchestra Fellowship and was chosen in 2011 to be a member of the New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Jaime Laredo. As a member of the New World Symphony, he has had the opportunity to teach double bass both at home and abroad, traveling to Medellín, Colombia and Geneva, Switzerland in 2014.