January 25, 2016


Vanessa Astros
Senior Director, Communications

(713) 337-8560

Lorena Cozzari
(713) 337-8548

Kristen Bennett
PR Coordinator
(713) 337-8557


Julia Kirchhausen
(917) 453-8386

Lois Cohn
(212) 874-7624

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2016-17 Houston Symphony Conductors & Guest Artists


Season Opener featuring Mahler’s titanic Symphony No. 1

World Premiere of Gabriela Lena Frank’s Requiem

The return of cellist superstar Yo-Yo Ma and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli

Celebration of John Adams’ 70th birthday

Third and final season of Beethoven’s three-season cycle, including Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio

Piano Masterworks featuring some of the world’s leading pianists

An All-Mozart program on Thanksgiving weekend

Michael Krajewski’s farewell season as Principal POPS Conductor

Celebration of over 50 years of music from the James Bond franchise

The return of the acclaimed Cirque de la Symphonie with a brand new program featuring acts set to film scores

NEW National Geographic Live! Lecture Series

HOUSTON (January 25, 2016) – The Houston Symphony’s 2016–17 season, Andrés Orozco-Estrada’s third season as music director, celebrates more than a century of leadership in Houston’s cultural landscape. In its 103rd year, the Houston Symphony announced the upcoming season at Jones Hall on Monday, January 25, in front of several hundred guests and supporters, emphasizing the institution’s ongoing collaboration with living composers, a continued focus on new music, a renewed concentration on innovative programming, and world-class musicianship and entertainment. Houston Symphony Music Director Orozco-Estrada, Principal POPS Conductor Michael Krajewski, and Executive Director/CEO Mark C. Hanson were on hand to unveil the new season and share their favorite highlights.

“The Houston Symphony is embarking on yet another action-packed season with a wide range of Classical, POPS, Family, Community and Special programming that is sure to inspire audiences of all ages and walks of life,” said Hanson. “We invite new and returning audiences to experience every unique moment of our upcoming concert season by joining us for an exciting, fun and enriching musical journey.”

As Orozco-Estrada’s artistic bond with the orchestra deepens, so does his ability to develop and curate programs appreciated by audiences old and new. Orozco-Estrada has made several appointments of orchestral players during his tenure as music director and music director designate of the Houston Symphony, a key element of his artistic vision to build a strong orchestra and elevate its artistic excellence.

Orozco-Estrada continues his collaboration with distinguished guest artists, composers, conductors and the Houston Symphony Chorus.  All of these elements, along with the creation of compelling and innovative programming and Orozco-Estrada’s natural ease at speaking with audiences, make the live orchestral experience more impactful than ever for audiences at Jones Hall and many venues across Houston.

“As I embark on my third season as music director, I feel more confident than ever that this orchestra is reaching new artistic heights with an impressive 2016-17 season filled with a stellar group of guest artists, conductors and a wide range of exciting repertoire,” said Orozco-Estrada.  “The orchestra and I invite you to join our musical journey as we deepen our powerful partnership and share with you this magnificent world of symphonic music.”

Cultivating relationships with living composers remains a priority of Orozco-Estrada this season. The Symphony will celebrate John Adams’ 70th birthday in early 2017 with performances of the composer’s Doctor Atomic Symphony, a work inspired by Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project, and his Saxophone Concerto from the virtuoso who inspired it, Timothy McAllister.   In April 2017, the orchestra will perform The Red Violin Concerto, drawn from John Corigliano’s celebrated score to the iconic film.  In May 2017, Orozco-Estrada, along with the Houston Symphony Chorus under the leadership of Betsy Cook Weber, will give the premiere of Houston Symphony Composer-in-Residence Gabriela Lena Frank’s Requiem.  This important commission will also include texts commissioned from Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Nilo Cruz.

Connecting with audiences in Houston and beyond is part of the Symphony’s plan to fulfill its mission as an inspiring artistic leader in Houston and around the world. A podcast series led by Musical Ambassador/Assistant Conductor, Carlos Andrés Botero, aims to keep audiences engaged and connected to the music even after they leave the concert hall. The new podcast series, “On the Music,” accompanies each subscription concert weekend and offers concert goers musical context and commentary on the score.

The season was announced at a multimedia event on Monday, January 25, at Jones Hall and featured a preview of the 30-minute season announcement special from Houston Public Media TV 8 as well as a performance by Houston Symphony musicians. The season announcement special, hosted by Houston Public Media’s St.John Flynn and co-hosted by Mark Hanson, will air on Houston Public Media TV 8 on Friday, January 29, at 8:30 p.m.



Opening Night

Orozco-Estrada opens the 2016-17 season with an unforgettable performance of Prokofiev’s enduring classic, Peter and the Wolf, on September 17, 2016, featuring a celebrity guest narrator. The Opening Night Concert at Jones Hall and Gala at The Corinthian is chaired by Ralph Burch and generously supported by ConocoPhillips, the lead corporate supporter of the Opening Night Concert and Gala for 40 consecutive years. 

Great Masterworks

Orozco-Estrada will open the 2016–17 classical season of 18 concert weekends with a performance of Mahler’s titanic Symphony No. 1. Other orchestral masterpieces to be performed include Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and the completion of the three-season Beethoven cycle of all nine symphonies featuring the composer’s Sixth and Seventh Symphonies as well as Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio.

Distinguished Guest Artists

Orozco-Estrada welcomes superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma back to the Houston Symphony for Dvorák’s Cello Concerto, a powerful masterpiece written during the time Dvorák spent in America. One of the world’s most beloved musicians, Yo-Yo Ma has entranced audiences since his performances for Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy at age seven. The classical season includes return appearances by violin virtuosos Leonidas Kavakos and Gil Shaham, as well as pianistsDaniil Trifonov, Jeffrey Kahane, Denis Kozhukhin, Ingrid Fliter and Yefim Bronfman. Pianist Behzod Abduraimov will be making his Houston Symphony debut with Beethoven’s majestic Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor and violinist Elina Vähälä will debut in Corigliano’s Red Violin Concerto.

Guest Conductors & Debuts

In addition to Music Director Orozco-Estrada’s 10 conducting appearances during the subscription season, 2016-17 will feature the return of distinguished conductors including former Houston Symphony Music Directors Hans Graf and Christoph Eschenbach, as well as Houston favorite Fabien Gabel, who will make his Houston Symphony subscription debut in the 2015-16 season. Also returning to the podium are acclaimed conductors James Gaffigan and Vasily Petrenko. Making his Houston Symphony debut is Kazuki Yamada, Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Rapidly establishing a name for himself on the international scene, Yamada is appearing with such orchestras as Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonia Orchestra, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony and Gothenburg Symphony.

Houston Symphony Musicians in Spotlight Roles

Principal Bass Robin Kesselman and Principal Cello Brinton Averil Smith will be featured as soloists in the second half of the season. Entering his second full season as Principal Bass of the Houston Symphony, Kesselman will step into the spotlight as he performs Serge Koussevitzky’s virtuoso concerto for double bass and orchestra. In April 2017, Principal Cello Brinton Smith presents Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s lost Cello Concerto, giving the first professional performance of this acclaimed composer’s work since its 1935 premiere by the great cellist Piatagorsky under the baton of Toscanini.

Commissions, Contemporary Composers and Music of the Americas

The coming season will include the first-ever Houston Symphony Young Composers Competition featuring a rising young composer, the world premiere of the winning work and music of the Americas, including music from Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas and Argentine composer and arranger Astor Piazzolla. Featuring rising young talent and music from the American continents are all important elements of Orozco-Estrada’s artistic vision.

Another recurring theme this season is the continued collaboration with living composers including American pianist and composer Gabriela Lena Frank. In her third year as composer-in-residence, Frank returns to unveil and premiere her Requiem, a multicultural work that interweaves traditional Latin and Meso-American texts with new text by Pulitzer Prize-winner Nilo Cruz. The season will also feature music of prominent American composer and Grammy-Award and Academy-Award-winning composer John Corigliano as the orchestra performs the composer’s The Red Violin Concerto, based on the composer’s Oscar-winning score of the 1998 film The Red Violin. The story of “The Red Violin” spans three centuries in the life of a magnificent but haunted violin in its travels through time and space.

Continuing our tradition of celebrating new music, Orozco-Estrada leads a program in spring 2017 in celebration of American music and John Adams’ 70th birthday as the Symphony performs Gershwin’s jazzy An American in Paris and Adams’ Doctor Atomic Symphony, a work inspired by Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project. In February 2017, the orchestra performs yet another work by Adams, his Saxophone Concerto featuring the virtuoso who inspired it, native Houstonian Timothy McAllister. Orozco-Estrada’s continued focus on music from the American continents is a thematic priority during his tenure as music director, leading a program of Piazzolla’s brooding Tangazo, Revueltas’ serpentine tone poem, Sensemayá, and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.

Concert Enhancement and Audience Engagement

New and improved initiatives aimed at breaking down barriers and further deepening connections with audiences of all ages will be present throughout the season, including the new “On the Music” podcast series led by the Symphony’s new Musical Ambassador Carlos Andrés Botero. This series will accompany each subscription concert weekend and is meant for concert goers to gain a deeper appreciation of the music through musical context and commentary on the score. “On the Music” episodes can be downloaded at beginning in March 2016.

Now in its third season, the lively “Musically Speaking” series at Rice University’s Stude Concert Hall gives audiences an opportunity to go behind the score and learn about the historical and contextual elements of the music being performed. This season, there are two “Musically Speaking” concerts planned in the intimate setting of Stude Concert Hall at the Shepherd School of Music, including the world premiere of Frank’s new Requiem.

Three of the 10 classical concerts led by Orozco-Estrada this season will feature OnStage Insights with Andrés, a concept that was formalized in the 2015-16 season after Andrés delighted audiences during his inaugural season with impromptu remarks from the podium during classical performances. OnStage Insights with Andrés features brief commentary and anecdotes about the music during select concerts at Jones Hall.

Another key concert-enhancement element this season is the return of the “Margaret Alkek Williams Sound + Vision” series, which consists of six classical concerts that mix the music with multimedia elements to further enhance the concert going experience. The incorporated video, dialogue, visual images or special lighting can be seen in these select performances at Jones Hall through the 2016-17 season. This season’s “Sound + Vision” series includes “Haydn’s The Creation” in September and October, “A Mozart Thanksgiving” on Thanksgiving weekend, “Gershwin & Rachmaninoff” in January, “Mendelssohn & Petrouchka” in March, “Beethoven’s FidelioOpera in Concert” also in March,and “A New Requiem” in May. The “Margaret Alkek Williams Sound + Vision” concerts are sponsored by Margaret Alkek Williams and supported in part by The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts Endowed Fund for Creative Initiatives. Video enhancement of Houston Symphony concerts is made possible by the Albert & Ethel Herzstein Foundation.

In addition to the six “Sound + Vision” classical concerts, this season will also feature two films with live orchestral accompaniment presentations, a popular concept and a growing trademark of the Houston Symphony where the orchestra performs the soundtracks of iconic films live as audiences watch the screening of the films. This season’s Film with Live Orchestra programs will include Raiders of the Lost Ark as part of our Summer Series at Jones Hall as well as the American Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life.    

Showcasing the Houston Symphony Chorus

The Houston Symphony will feature the Houston Symphony Chorus in four of its classical programs in the 2016-17 season, three of which will be led by Orozco-Estrada. Among the choral masterpieces featured this season are Haydn’s The Creation, a musical depiction of the Genesis creation story. This program will feature soprano Nicole Heaston, an active concert and recital soloist and a regular guest at opera houses throughout the U.S.

Orozco-Estrada will lead the chorus and orchestra in two more programs this coming season: Beethoven’s Fidelio and Frank’s Requiem. Former Houston Symphony Music Director Christoph Eschenbach will lead the chorus in an uplifting Anton Bruckner program featuring the composer’s Te Deum (We Praise Thee, O God) and his First Symphony.

The Houston Symphony chorus will also be featured in two POPS programs: Very Merry Pops and Classic Broadway. In her third season as Director of the Chorus, Dr. Betsy Cook Weber, a professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, prepares the all-volunteer chorus for all performances.

The classical season is endowed by The Wortham Foundation, Inc. in memory of Gus S. and Lyndall F. Wortham.  Andrés Orozco-Estrada is the fourth music director to hold the Roy and Lillie Cullen Chair.  This position is endowed in perpetuity by The Cullen Foundation.


Recordings and Broadcasts

Orchestral Recordings & National Broadcast Series

In a recent partnership with Dutch recording label PENTATONE that began in the 2015-16 season with the scheduled 2016 release of the last four great symphonies of Antonin Dvorák, Andrés and the orchestra are planning to record and subsequently release a series of recordings of the Music of the Americas. These recordings will include Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Revueltas’ Sensemayá, Piazzolla’s Tangazo and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, which will be recorded over the course of two concert weekends in early 2017. Additional recording projects with PENTATONE include recordings of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Denis Kozhukhin and Haydn’s The Creation.

Beyond commercial recordings, the Symphony will release six programs from the classical series for national radio broadcast in conjunction with American Public Media’s “SymphonyCast” and “Performance Today.”  Locally, the Houston Symphony continues its recently expanded broadcast of Houston Symphony concerts from the current season on both Houston Public Media’s News 88.7 and Classical 91.7FM with a weekly Sunday night broadcast and Wednesday night rebroadcast respectively. The weekly series will feature Houston Symphony’s current season and favorite past performances.

The Houston Symphony’s recording and electronic media initiatives are supported by The Wortham Foundation, Inc. and Bobby and Phoebe Tudor.


2016-17 Family Season overview

Each season, the Houston Symphony reaches 17,000 children, parents and grandparents through its family educational programs, which include the Symphony’s Family concert series, a popular Saturday morning destination for Houston families. This season, the four-concert series features educational, fun-for-all performances led by Associate Conductor Robert Franz.

“A Magic Carpet Ride” will include the music from Disney’s Aladdin, with songs “A Whole New World,” and “A Friend Like Me,” as well as Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade narrated by storyteller Hope Shiver. To celebrate the holiday season, “12 Days of Christmas”will be a delightfully interactive program with the orchestra and the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Chorale. And to kick off the Mardi Grass celebrations, a jazzy “Mardi Gras Menagerie”will feature two pianists and a party of animals with Carnival of the Animals and music from Happy Feet. Concluding the Family series will be “Dr. Seuss at the Symphony,” which will spotlight music from Green Eggs and Ham. The wacky and imaginative celebration will pay tribute to the characters of Dr. Seuss and the sounds of classic animation.

Held on Saturday mornings, the programs combine unique lobby activities such as an Instrument Petting Zoo, theme-related music and craft activities, and student musician performances to stimulate children’s young minds. These pre-concert activities take place one-hour prior to the 10 am concerts and one-hour following the 11:30 am concerts.



Michael Krajewski’s Farewell Season
After 17 exciting and progressive years at the helm of the BBVA Compass POPS Series, Principal POPS Conductor Michael Krajewski will step down from his position at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. Succeeding Krajewski will be Principal POPS Conductor Designate Steven Reineke, a familiar face to Houston audiences and a popular conductor, composer and arranger in the POPS music scene. Steven Reineke is 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. Both conductors will alternate as POPS concert leaders throughout Michael’s farewell season.

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 season with the Houston Symphony.”


2016-17 BBVA Compass POPS Highlights

A collage of Krajewski’s best concerts with the Houston Symphony, the 2016-17 BBVA Compass POPS season will be brimming with Houston’s favorite guest artists and programs. The first half of the POPS season will feature Broadway vocalist Linda Eder, whowill kick off the lineup with a tribute to classic movie star Judy Garland. Then musical duo AJ Swearingen and Jonathan Beedle will capture the essence of Simon and Garfunkel’s 1960s counterculture harmonies. Tony DeSare, who was last at Jones Hall for the 2015-16 celebration of American legend Frank Sinatra’s birthday, will return in a program that will honor ultimate piano men Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Billy Joel and Elton John, culminating with Gershwin’s immensely popular Rhapsody in Blue.

The second half of the POPS season features the return of Krajewski’s 2006 brainchild Cirque de la Symphonie, a show of brilliantly choreographed aerial and acrobatic acts that has captivated audiences around the world. Cirque de la Symphonie returns with a brand new program where the stunning acts are set to film scores played by the orchestra. Also returning to perform with the Houston Symphony is Pink Martini, a group of a dozen classically-trained musicians who perform in several different languages on concert stages and with orchestras around the world. Actor, singer and dancer Joshua Henry, who made his Houston Symphony debut in 2015 when he shared the stage with Broadway sensation Sutton Foster, is back at Jones Hall this season to performa brand new soulful tribute to one of the world’s greatest artists, Stevie Wonder.

To wrap up the 2016-17 BBVA Compass POPS season, the orchestra gives a nod to Agent 007 in celebration of over 50 years of music from the successful James Bond film franchise. This program features the franchise’s greatest theme songs from films such as Goldfinger, From Russia with Love, Diamonds are Forever and Casino Royale. The Bond films are an indelible part of pop culture for their action-packed scenes, sound effects and musical accompaniment. The films’ theme songs have received several Academy Award nominations and one win. Concluding the season is Krajewski’s final concert weekend featuring a “Classic Broadway” celebration featuring composers Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Cole Porter and George Gershwin. This program will feature powerhouse performers Lisa Vroman, Doug LaBrecque and Rachel York, along with the Houston Symphony Chorus. 2016-17 marks the eighth consecutive year of BBVA Compass’ commitment to the POPS series.


Symphony Specials

Raiders of the Lost Ark—Film with Live Orchestra

The film that gave the world one of its greatest movie heroes, Indiana Jones, is back as part of the Symphony’s Summer Series at Jones Hall. Audiences can join the orchestra in the celebration of the film’s 35th anniversary when the Houston Symphony performs John Williams’ score in its entirety as fans watch the epic film on the big screen. Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning April 8.

The Music of Queen

The Houston Symphony celebrates the contributions of Queen’s 1970s era and beyond with an electronic symphonic-rock tribute to the iconic band. This program features all the classics of this incredible “Bohemian Rhapsody,” complete with Brody Dolynuik’s soaring vocals, full rock band and live orchestra. This performance takes place at Jones Hall on September 3, 2016.

Seth MacFarlane with the Houston Symphony

Multi-talented, Emmy-winning and Grammy-nominated artist Seth MacFarlane makes his highly-anticipated Houston Symphony debut on September 4, 2016. The consummate showman and Family Guy creator joins the orchestra on Labor Day weekend to lend his baritone voice to the hidden gems of the 1940s and 1950s swing era and sing selections from the Great American Songbook. Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning April 8.

It’s a Wonderful Life—Film with Live Orchestra

There’s something special happening at the Houston Symphony during the holidays. This holiday season will feature Frank Capra’s great American Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. The Houston Symphony and members of the Houston Symphony Chorus are accompanying the extraordinary journey of George Bailey (James Stewart) and his guardian angel with a live performance of Dimitri Tiomkin’s heartwarming score and newly-restored music. Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning July 1.

Andrea Bocelli at Toyota Center

The Houston Symphony collaborates for the fourth time with global super star Andrea Bocelli, who has sold 80 million records and performed countless worldwide tours. Bocelli returns to the Toyota Center with the Houston Symphony on December 11, 2016. The Italian tenor brings with him a stunning new production based on his latest album Cinema, which includes epic theme songs from films such as Scent of a Woman, The Godfather, Love Story, Life is Beautiful and many more. This special performance also features Bocelli’s beloved repertoire of soaring arias and crossover hits. Visit for ticket prices and on-sale information.

Yo-Yo Ma

Andrés welcomes superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma back to the Houston Symphony on February 4, 2017 for Dvorák’s Cello Concerto. One of the world’s most beloved musicians, Yo-Yo Ma has entranced audiences since his performance for Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy at age seven. Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning December 19.


NEW this season: National Geographic Live Lecture Series

National Geographic Live!, a four-event lectureseries at Jones Hall, will bring audiences thought-provoking presentations from leading explorers, scientists and photographers. Each incredible program

features compelling, lavishly-illustrated presentations on some of the world’s most remote locations and perilous journeys. The series, held on select Tuesday evenings throughout the 2016-17 season, will document the world’s natural beauty through the lenses of Nat Geo wildlife and underwater photographers and the incredible stories that climbers and engineers will bring audiences while helping educate and expand their knowledge of the world’s most precious natural assets. The Houston Symphony will not appear during the lectures.



Education and Community Programming accounts for more than a quarter of the orchestra’s annual activity.  The Houston Symphony’s performance home is not limited to Jones Hall, Miller Outdoor Theatre and The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Over 800 individual and small ensemble musician-led education and community events are implemented each season by Houston Symphony musicians and the Symphony’s Community-Embedded Musicians, making it possible for thousands of people to experience the Symphony in their neighborhoods, schools, churches, synagogues, schools, private homes, social service providers, community facilities, parks, senior centers, classrooms, libraries, hospitals, day cares, cathedrals, museums and art galleries.  

In the 2015-16 season, over 650 new community and education activities were enabled by our four Community-Embedded Musicians. These activities include the execution of intensive residencies at eight high school band and orchestra programs and one at Crespo Elementary School, the result of an innovative partnership with BBVA Compass to make orchestral music available and accessible to students, parents, school staff and faculty. Additionally, several Houston Symphony musicians are deeply invested in other key programs intended to improve the quality of people’s lives in Houston and beyond, including a music and wellness initiative where musicians get to visit area hospitals and provide therapeutic opportunities for patients, healthcare workers and their families.

Another initiative that continues to gain momentum is our work with local social service agencies, such as Dress for Success and Big Brothers Big Sisters. In these settings, the Houston Symphony provides opportunities for people from all walks of life to learn about, engage with and participate in music. The ultimate goal of these interactions between Houston Symphony musicians and these participants is to provide access to these individuals who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to experience our art form by attending a Symphony performance and through mentoring opportunities with the musicians.

In 2016-17, the Houston Symphony will continue to mobilize their efforts to inspire students to study music through the David Dewhurst Student Concert Series, which includes expanded Middle School Concerts at Jones Hall and additional interactions with students during pre-and post-concert visits by Community-Embedded Musicians and Houston Symphony musicians. This season, the Houston Symphony will perform 24 student concerts reaching approximately 65,000 students. In addition to the student concerts, the Houston Symphony prides itself in serving the entire community of Greater Houston, which includes a concert series in Sugar Land, an annual day-long music festival at Jones Hall, and more than a dozen free community concerts at local churches and outdoor venues. In 2016-17, the Symphony will offer 14 free community concerts at churches, schools and community centers across Houston, all led by Associate Conductor Robert Franz.

The Houston Symphony's education and community programs are supported by the following endowed funds: Margarett & Alice Brown Endowment Fund for Education, The William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fund for Education Programs, and the Spec's Charitable Foundation Salute to Educator's Concert Fund.  The trustees of the Houston Symphony Endowment provide ongoing support for the Symphony's annual activities.

2016-17 Sugar Land Series

The Houston Symphony’s three-concert series at Sugar Land Baptist Church continues to grow in popularity and subscription base. The Symphony is proud to present its sixth Sugar Land season in 2016-17, reaching the vibrant community of Fort Bend County and expanding the geographic horizons of the orchestra.  This season’s Sugar Land Series lineup includes: Haydn’s The Creation in September 2016; Handel’s Messiah in December 2016; and an all-Beethoven program in March 2017 featuring Beethoven’s Pastoral and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 led by Orozco-Estrada.

Concerts at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

The Symphony’s longstanding presenting partnership with The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands continues with the orchestra performing 10 programs from May through October including Part I of the “Classic Rock Weekend” with The Music of The Rolling Stones and a concert led by Orozco-Estrada with musical guest and Houston favorite, Gabriela Montero, on May 20, 2016. Other concerts presented in partnership with The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion this season will include “Classical Mystery Tour: A Tribute to the Beatles;” “Star-Spangled Salute” in July 2016; a celebration of the music from the American continents in September 2016 led by Orozco-Estrada; and “Hocus Pocus POPS” in October 2016. The Houston Symphony’s performances at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion are supported in part by the George P. & Cynthia Mitchell Summer Concerts Fund.

ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights at Miller Outdoor Theatre

The ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights Series returns to Miller Outdoor Theatre with four free concerts in June and an additional “Star-Spangled Salute” concert on July 4th, the orchestra’s annual salute to Independence Day featuring patriotic music and a fireworks display. The performances often introduce rising guest artists to Houston audiences while expanding the reach of the orchestra in the Houston community. The Houston Symphony’s Miller Outdoor Theatre performances are endowed by The Brown Foundation, Inc. in memory of Hanni and Stewart Orton.

41st Annual Ima Hogg Competition

The Ima Hogg Competition is an international, multi-instrument competition designed to identify outstanding young musicians. Now in its 41st year, this prestigious competition is one of the few nationwide competitions annually open to all standard orchestral instruments and piano. In addition to citizens of the United States, foreign students currently enrolled at a U.S. college, university or conservatory are eligible, giving the competition an international reach. 

The competition has been known to launch young musicians’ careers as performing artists, with past winners having earned countless national and international awards worldwide, as well as prestigious positions in major orchestras. The semi-finals and finals take place at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music where semi-finalists perform, from memory, their choice of two complete concerti. A panel of judges, this year under the expert leadership of Hans Graf, will then select four finalists to perform one concerto each alongside the Houston Symphony at the finals concert, which is broadcasted live on Classical 91.7 FM.  The 2016 Finals will be held on June 4, 2016.

A coveted benefit for first- and second-place winners is the opportunity to rehearse and perform with the Houston Symphony for some of our largest audiences.  The first-place winner performs at the annual Houston Chronicle Dollar Concert at Jones Hall in July, and the second-place winner performs at a Summer Symphony Nights Concert at Miller Outdoor Theatre in June. Additionally, thanks to a generous donation from John and Tracy Dennis, the prize money for the first-place winner has been significantly increased from $5,000 to $25,000. Because of this leadership gift – and generosity of the people who support the other prizes for the competition – the prize pool for the entire competition has increased to $44,500. This season’s Ima Hogg Competition will be chaired by Jo Dee Wright.

Fourth Annual Day of Music

The Houston Symphony will present its fourth annual Day of Music on July 9, 2016. The free, day-long summer event features dozens of performers representing Houston’s diverse musical community, including those in the jazz, rock, blues, ethnic and classical genres. The event also features the orchestra, choral music, food trucks, and the Symphony’s ever-popular Instrument Petting Zoo.

Fiesta Sinfónica Concert

Continuing the tradition that started in 1992, the Houston Symphony will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with its annual Fiesta Sinfónica concert on Sunday, September 18, 2016, at Jones Hall. Supported by Chevron, the program will be led by Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada and feature Grammy Award-winning pianist and composer Michel Camilo, who hails from the Dominican Republic.


Ticket Information

Season tickets for the 2016-17 Season, including the Classical, POPS, Family, Sugar Land, and Musically Speaking series are on sale now.  Single tickets for fall concerts will go on sale July 1, and spring concert tickets will go on sale August 30.  For more information or to purchase, visit or call the Houston Symphony Patron Services Center at (713) 224-7575, Monday-Saturday, 10am-6pm. 

About the Houston Symphony

During the 2015-16 season, the Houston Symphony will celebrate its second season with Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada, and continues its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras. Founded in 1913, the Houston Symphony is one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas, and offers a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. Serving the entire Greater Houston region, the Symphony’s home base is Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, and the orchestra also performs regularly in Sugar Land, at Miller Outdoor Theatre, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion and other locations around the community.

As a cultural ambassador for the city and region, the Houston Symphony has toured extensively, from early in its history through road tours to military bases in Texas and Louisiana during WWII, to more recent international appearances in Singapore, Moscow, and Japan, and European tours with stops in England, France, Holland, Germany and Austria, including 16 domestic performances at Carnegie Hall.  Most recently, the Symphony embarked on a seven-city, eight-concert tour through the United Kingdom in 2010 performing The Planets – An HD Odyssey, to sold-out concert halls.

Today, with an annual operating budget of $32.8 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 musicians and 4 community-embedded musicians is the largest performing arts organization in Houston, presenting more than 300 performances annually, for 400,000 people, including 97,000 children. For more information, please visit


MEDIA CONTACTS:           

Vanessa Astros: (713) 337-8560,


Lorena Cozzari: (713) 337-8548,


Kristen Bennett: (713) 337-8557,