May 8, 2015 (1)
Senior Director, Communications
HOUSTON SYMPHONY TO LAUNCH UNPRECEDENTED PROGRAM TO HIRE SUPPLEMENTARY MUSICIANS TO SERVE THE DIVERSE COMMUNITY OF GREATER HOUSTON
New Musicians Will 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
HOUSTON (May 8, 2015)—Houston Symphony Executive Director/CEO Mark C. Hanson, Board President Robert A. Peiser and Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada announced today that the orchestra plans to recruit four new string players as part of an initiative 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. Additionally, they will perform on stage with members of the Symphony in approximately 25 concerts each year. The orchestra intends to add more of these Community-Embedded Musicians over the next two seasons, providing ever-increasing levels of service and music education to the rapidly growing Houston region.
In contrast to term-limited or structured fellowship or training programs, the new musicians will be full-time, permanent, salaried employees of the Symphony, and will become part of the cadre of musicians who appear on stage and throughout the community. While existing Houston Symphony musicians spend about 80% of their time on stage as part of the orchestra’s robust schedule of classical, pops, family, student and community concerts, these Community-Embedded Musicians will do the opposite, and devote the majority of their time to off-stage education and community programs through individual and small ensemble work in schools, neighborhoods and health-care settings. Their work will enable the Symphony to increase the quality and quantity of music education in greater Houston, helping students to develop essential life skills, including problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork and perseverance. Among other new and expanded community activities, these supplemental musicians will be part of a health and wellness program aimed at increasing the quality of healthcare through music.
The creation and launch of the program has been made possible through the early investment of generous supporters including the Spec’s Charitable Foundation, the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, and BBVA Compass, all longtime leadership supporters of the Houston Symphony.
Qualified candidates for these four new positions will be talented, accomplished string players of all backgrounds who demonstrate a passion and aptitude for education and community engagement work. In an effort to attract candidates who reflect the diversity of the Greater Houston community, among its other efforts to seek qualified candidates, the Houston Symphony will recruit and encourage qualified musicians of diverse ethnic backgrounds to apply. In addition, to best serve Houston’s population whose members collectively speak more than 90 languages, bilingual speaking skills will be considered a plus.
The selection process will involve both live auditions before a committee comprised of Houston Symphony musicians, and in-person interviews with administrative leadership. Candidates will be selected based on a combination of exceptional musical ability, passion for doing work in the community and in educational settings, and communication skills. Once hired, these Community-Embedded Musicians will be paid a fixed salary with a comprehensive benefits package plus per-service payments for their time spent on-stage for full-orchestra rehearsals and concerts.
“We’re proud of the fact that all of our Houston Symphony musicians are active in education and community engagement programs. However, with demand for our services rising dramatically, adding these new positions will allow us to extend what we’re doing throughout the Houston community and beyond,” said Executive Director/CEO Mark C. Hanson. “This initiative is part of an array of actions we’re taking to not only expand and strengthen our work outside of the concert hall, but also to pursue our shared artistic goals. In addition to these new Community-Embedded positions, we’re planning to add to the full-time complement of traditional positions within the orchestra over the next ten years. I thank Andrés Orozco-Estrada, my musician colleagues of the orchestra, and our generous donor community for their enthusiastic collaboration as we launch this groundbreaking new program.”
Houston Symphony Chief of Education and Community Programming Pam Blaine noted “The Symphony’s efforts in schools, neighborhoods, and health care facilities will be enhanced when community members can identify more directly with the musicians with whom they are coming into contact. Houston is one of America’s most diverse cities, and it is important that we take steps forward in diversifying our musician roster to better reflect those we serve. These new Community-Embedded Musicians will be doing the same type of education and engagement work as our core musicians, but they will be able to spend more time doing it, thus creating even deeper connections to the Symphony.”
“I’m excited about this new initiative that brings orchestral music closer to our diverse community while providing opportunities for fresh talent to join the orchestra on stage. I look forward to working with these new musicians,” said Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada.
Board president Robert A. Peiser added that “It’s wonderful to see the strong spirit of collaboration among our staff, board, and core musicians that has paved the way for such a transformational and unique idea. Such collaboration allows our organization to take bold and innovative steps as part of our many strategies aimed at continually raising our artistic level while becoming more and more relevant to this vibrant and diverse city.”
Adam Dinitz, English horn player and Chair of the Orchestra Committee, stated “It is our responsibility as artists at a non-profit organization to use our talents and resources to make our community a better place to live. This new program will position the Houston Symphony to positively and directly impact lives of people who truly need it. The musicians are proud to be a part of making such a meaningful and important goal a reality."
The application process for the initial set of four Community-Embedded string player positions is open immediately. Application materials including a résumé, statement of interest and a recording will be due by June 19. Upon evaluation of these materials and a Skype interview, select candidates will be invited to Houston for in-person auditions and interviews in the July 13-19 time period. Financial assistance for travel and accommodations will be provided to those invited to the July interview/audition. More information and application materials can be found at houstonsymphony.org/communitymusicians.
About the Houston Symphony
During the 2014-15 season, the Houston Symphony welcomes its new music director, Andrés Orozco-Estrada in his inaugural season, and enters 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 Sugarland, 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 $29.6 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 professional musicians is the largest performing arts organization in Houston, presenting more than 300 performances annually, for 330,000 people, including 97,000 children. For more information, please visit www.houstonsymphony.org.