Recognized by the Houston Chronicle as a Houston favorite, Houston Symphony Co-Concertmaster Eric Halen’s violin playing has been described by critics as “sterling” and “tenderly expressive and dramatic.” A review in the Chicago Sun-Times of the Houston Symphony Chamber Players Ravinia Festival performance of Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time” states, “…as the final, sustained tone of Eric Halen’s violin faded to close… there was no doubt that the evening had offered the best kind of virtuosity.”
Halen joined the Houston Symphony as Assistant Concertmaster in 1987. In 1997, he assumed the position of Associate Concertmaster and served as Acting Concertmaster for the 2005–06, 2008–09, and 2009–10 seasons. Halen grew up in a family of violinists. His parents were both professionals, and his brother David is Concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony.
After earning his bachelor’s degree at Central Missouri State University where he studied violin with his father, Dr. Walter Halen, he received his master’s degree at the age of 20 from the University of Illinois, while studying with Sergiu Luca. At age 23, he became artist-teacher of violin at Texas Christian University.
Halen has performed in solo and chamber music programs in the U.S. and abroad, including solo appearances with the St. Louis and Houston Symphonies. As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with many pre-eminent artists including violinist Sergiu Luca, violist Lawrence Dutton, cellists Gary Hoffman and Ralph Kirschbaum, and pianists Christoph Eschenbach and John Kimura Parker.
Halen has made frequent guest appearances with DA CAMERA of Houston, MUSIC IN CONTEXT, and performed at summer music festivals including the Aspen Music Festival, the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan and Cascade Head Festival in Oregon. As a member of the Houston Symphony Chamber Players with Christoph Eschenbach, he has toured the U.S., Japan, and Europe and made recordings for Koch International, including Messiaen’s “Quartet for the end of Time” and Alban Berg’s Adagio for Violin, Clarinet and Piano from the Chamber Concerto.
Halen has performed as soloist many times with the Houston Symphony on Classical Subscription concerts, including a performance of Prokofiev’s Concerto in G minor with Christoph Eschenbach conducting, and the Mozart Duet Aria “Non Temer Amato Bene” with soprano Barbara Bonney and Hans Graf conducting at New York’s Carnegie Hall. He has also performed as soloist on the “Interact‚” “Mozart and More‚” and the “Exxon Pops‚” series.
In September 2006, Halen was invited by the Nashville Symphony and their Music Advisor Leonard Slatkin to join them as guest concertmaster to open their new symphony hall, the Schermerhorn Center. The opening night concert was broadcast nationally several times on PBS and PBS HD, as a special titled “One Symphony Place.”
Halen plays a violin made in 1616 by Antonio and Hieronymus Amati.