September 2, 2014
RENOWNED PIANIST ANDRÉ WATTS PERFORMS RACHMANINOFF’S 2ND PIANO CONCERTO, CONDUCTED BY NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR ANDRÉS OROZCO-ESTRADA
HOUSTON (September 2, 2014) – On September 19, 20 and 21, the Houston Symphony will kick off its 101st season of classical subscription concerts, the first with Andrés Orozco-Estrada as Music Director, in a performance of Rachmaninoff’s deeply romantic Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring renowned pianist André Watts making his Houston return. Enduringly popular since its 1901 debut, the concerto’s themes have found fame in movies such as Brief Encounter, The Seven Year Itch and the popular song "All by Myself."
In addition to Watt’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto, Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada will lead the Houston Symphony in performances of the heroic symphonic tone poem Ein Heldenleben by Richard Strauss and the world premiere of composer-in-residence Gabriela Lena Frank’s Karnavalingo. A Houston Symphony commission, Karnavalingo draws upon the musical culture of Frank’s mother’s homeland of Perú with its rich and varied sounds deriving from native Indian, African and Spanish influences. As a graduate of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, Frank has dedicated the piece to a beloved English professor, Edward Doughtie, who encouraged her as a blossoming musician and passed away in spring of 2014.
Audience members interested in learning more about the background of the music are invited to attend the free Prelude pre-concert discussion 45-minutes prior to the start of the concert. The Prelude will be led by St.John Flynn and Gabriela Lena Frank.
HOUSTON SYMPHONY CLASSICAL CONCERT
Jones Hall 615 Louisiana St. Houston, TX 77002
Watts Plays Rachmaninoff 2
Friday, September 19, 2014, 8:00pm
Saturday, September 20, 2014, 8:00pm
Sunday, September 21, 2014, 2:30pm
Andrés Orozco-Estrada, conductor
André Watts, piano
Gabriela Lena Frank: Karnavalingo, Houston Symphony Commission, World Premiere
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2
R. Strauss: Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life)
Tickets from $25
About André Watts
André Watts burst upon the music world at the age of 16 when Leonard Bernstein chose him to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic in their Young People's Concerts, broadcast nationwide on CBS-TV. Only two weeks later, Bernstein asked him to substitute at the last minute for the ailing Glenn Gould in performances of Liszt's E-flat Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, thus launching his career in storybook fashion. More than 50 years later, Watts remains one of today's most celebrated and beloved superstars.
A perennial favorite with orchestras throughout the United States, Watts is also a regular guest at the major summer music festivals including Ravinia, the Hollywood Bowl, Saratoga, Tanglewood, Eastern Music and the Mann Music Center. Recent and upcoming engagements include appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Philadelphia and on tour, the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, and the St. Louis, Atlanta, Detroit, Cincinnati, Dallas, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Seattle and National symphonies among others.
A much-honored artist who has played before royalty in Europe and heads of government in nations all over the world, André Watts received a 2011 National Medal of Arts, given by the President of the United States to individuals who are deserving of special recognition for their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States. In June 2006, he was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl of Fame to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his debut (with the Philadelphia Orchestra), and he is also the recipient of the 1988 Avery Fisher Prize. At age 26 Watts was the youngest person ever to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Yale University and he has since received numerous honors from highly respected schools including the University of Pennsylvania, Brandeis University, The Juilliard School of Music and his Alma Mater, the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, Watts was appointed in May 2004 to the Jack I. and Dora B. Hamlin Endowed Chair in Music at Indiana University and continues to serve in that role.
About Gabriela Lena Frank
Identity has always been at the center of Gabriela Lena Frank's music. Born in Berkeley, California, to a mother of Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Frank explores her multicultural heritage most ardently through her compositions. Inspired by the works of Bela Bartók and Alberto Ginastera, Frank is something of a musical anthropologist. She has traveled extensively throughout South America and her pieces reflect her studies of Latin American folklore, incorporating poetry, mythology and native musical styles into a western classical framework that is uniquely her own. She writes challenging idiomatic parts for solo instrumentalists, vocalists, chamber ensembles and orchestras, and she frequently has a story line, scenario or character in mind behind her music. Frank's compositions also reflect her virtuosity as a pianist — when not composing, she is a sought-after performer, specializing in contemporary repertoire.
This season, Frank serves a composer-in-residence to both the Houston Symphony for whom she wrote Karnavalingo to welcome incoming Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. A 2009 recipient of the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship to assist in research and artistic creation, Frank’s recent premieres include Will-o’-the-Wisp for piccolo player Mary Kay Fink and the Cleveland Orchestra; Saints for The Berkeley Symphony, soprano Jessica Rivera and the San Francisco Girls Chorus; and Concertino Cusqueño for the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Frank attended Rice University in Houston, Texas, where she earned both a B.A. (1994) and M.A. (1996). She studied composition with Paul Cooper, Ellsworth Milburn, and Sam Jones, and piano with Jeanne Kierman Fischer. Frank credits Fischer with introducing her to the music of Ginastera, Bartók and other composers who utilized folk elements in their work. At the University of Michigan, where she received a D.M.A. in composition in 2001, Frank studied with William Albright, William Bolcom, Leslie Bassett, and Michael Daugherty, and piano with Logan Skelton.
About the Houston Symphony
During the 2014-15 season, the Houston Symphony enters its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. This season also marks the inaugural year for new Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada. The Houston Symphony is one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas whose inaugural performance was held at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston on June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $30.7 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 professional musicians is the largest performing arts organization in Houston, presenting more than 286 performances for 300,000 people, including 82,000 children, annually. For tickets and more information, please visit www.houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.