September 19, 2016


Sept.23-25, 2016

HOUSTON (Sept. 19, 2016) – The Houston Symphony will open the classical series with works by Benjamin Krause and Victor Agudelo, the winners of the orchestra’s inaugural Young Composer Competition at 8 p.m. Sept. 23-24 and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 25, followed by Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 under the direction of Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada.

The Houston Symphony’s first Young Composer Competition invited early career composers and students with connections to specific post-secondary institutions to submit their scores for a chance to have their work performed by the orchestra.  The goal is to discover and support orchestral repertoire for the future.

“I wanted to give a chance to young composers who have been studying and working very hard to have their music performed,” said Orozco-Estrada. “For this competition, I chose to concentrate on supporting and rewarding the work of composers in Colombia and Houston, two places that have been very important in my musical life.”

Forty-six composers with connections to music schools in Medellín, Bogotá and Houston, submitted dozens of scores and their respective performance history for consideration. Musical Ambassador/Assistant Conductor Carlos Andrés Botero and Senior Artistic Advisor Aurelie Desmarais combed through 56 scores in search for well-crafted compositions with unique perspectives.

“We were looking for pieces that are well-composed for the orchestra and have a point of view,” said Music Ambassador Carlos Andrés Botero. “As a young composer, you can concentrate so much on technique that the music sounds too academic. We wanted to discover a composer who is developing his or her own voice—someone who writes original music with something fresh to say.”

Andrés was immediately drawn to the two winning works from composers Victor Agudelo (El Sombreron) and Benjamin Krause (Pathways). In addition to getting their works performed by the orchestra, these emerging composers will each receive an encouragement award of $5,000, as well as a set of parts and a score, professionally printed and copied by the Houston Symphony. The competition’s cash prize is underwritten by Michael J. Shawiak and Ms. Ellen A. Yarrell, both members of the Conductor’s Circle and the Houston Symphony Legacy Society.

About the winners of the Young Composer Competition

Born in 1979, Colombian composer Victor Agudelo has achieved a consolidated style parting from the hybridization between his country’s traditional music and contemporary music. His compositions have been interpreted by several professional and university orchestras, including The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra, the Medellín Philharmonic Orchestra, La Habana–Cuba Symphony Orchestra, Castilla y León Symphony Orchestra (Spain), EAFIT University Symphony Orchestra, Cali Philharmonic Orchestra and Antioquia University Symphonic Band, among others.

El Sombrerón, Agudelo’s winning work, was inspired by a Colombian legend of the same name which tells the tale of an enigmatic character who wears black clothes and a big hat to cover his somber and skeleton-thin face, always riding his horse and chasing away drunkards, night owls, cheaters and gamblers.

Benjamin Krause, a graduate of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, is a composer and pianist whose works have been performed across the U.S. and internationally, including premieres at Brevard Music Festival (Brevard, NC), the Stamford International Music Festival (Stamford, UK) and at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France, where he was awarded the Prix Marion Tournon Branly.

His winning composition, Pathways, was premiered in late 2015, by the Shepherd School Chamber Orchestra. It presents a series of musical concepts for a chamber orchestra and explores the many ways in which they may be connected. The piece might resemble a walk along a winding, looping path in which one perceives the journey as linear but sees the same objects from different vantage points and in varying sequences. The music moves very quickly but tends to circle back on itself.

The Young Composer Competition is also funded by the "Campaign for a Sound Future" Fund for new works in honor of Winifred Safford Wallace.  The Houston Symphony's Composer-in-Residence and commissioning initiatives are supported in part by Robin Angly and Miles Smith and the Classical Season is endowed by The Wortham Foundation, Inc. in memory of Gus S. and Lyndall F. Wortham.

The concert will take place at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana St. For tickets and information, please call (713) 224-7575 or visit Tickets may also be purchased at the Houston Symphony Patron Services Center in Jones Hall (Monday–Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). All programs and artists are subject to change.


During the 2016-17 season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its third season with Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada, and continues its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. 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 $32.8 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 professional musicians and 4 community-embedded musicians is the largest performing arts organization in Houston, presenting more than 300 performances for 400,000 people, including 97,000 children, annually. For tickets and more information, please visit or call 713-224-7575.

MEDIA CONTACTS:           

Vanessa Astros: (713) 337-8560,

Lorena Cozzari: (713) 337-8548,          

Kristen Bennett: (713) 337-8557,