Backstage Pass: Summer Activities

Houston Symphony musicians share photos of their 2019 summer activities.

Backstage Pass: Summer Activities

During these hot summer months, our musicians take a well-deserved break from Houston Symphony activities, but they still keep busy by traveling the world to teach, learn, and play with other musicians—sometimes they even find time for a vacation! Learn how a few of our musicians made the most of this summer.

Man and woman at their wedding.

Brian Del Signore, principal percussion
My son, Damian, got married!

Man poses with double bass.

Tim Dilenschneider, associate principal double bass
This summer, I was the double bass faculty member for Festival Napa Valley’s Blackburn Music Academy, a tuition-free summer conservatory. Then I performed for three weeks with Classical Tahoe, a festival on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.

Family plays chamber music together. Woman plays flute with her father who is playing violin.

Robert Johnson, associate principal horn
Every summer, my wife, Ariella, and I take the kids to East Hampton and Shelter Island, New York. We go to the beach, swim in the pool, and enjoy the biggest question of the day being what we’ll eat for dinner. Because so many people in our family play music, we often read chamber music and perform in the summers. Above photos: A recent summer with my wife, Ariella (flute); her sister, international concert pianist Navah Perlman; my father-in-law, Itzhak Perlman (violin); and myself (horn) performing Brahms and Mozart at the Perlman Music Program on Shelter Island.

Woman poses with oboe.

Anne Leek, associate principal oboe
I created a Baroque Trio Sonata class for my young oboe students, which forced me to learn how to re-string my little harpsichord. I have been busy looping wires, stringing them into the instrument, and tuning!

A group of musicians pose with their instruments after a performance.

Sheldon Person, viola
I performed at the Zenith Chamber Music Festival at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and served on the faculty of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Tennessee.

Cellists pose with their instruments and instructor.

Brinton Averil Smith, principal cello
My wife (pianist Evelyn Chen) and I finished a CD for the Naxos label with Houston Symphony Recording Engineer Brad Sayles. After hearing my daughter sing at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, we traveled to Mountain View, California, for Music at Tateuchi and a private evening of chamber music with Condoleezza Rice. I then spent a month at the Aspen Music Festival, where I teach and serve as principal cello of the Festival Orchestra.

Man plays timpani.

Leonardo Soto, principal timpani
First, I coached the National Youth Orchestra in New York City. I played a recital with my brother in Santiago, Chile, followed by teaching a free masterclass and judging a snare drum competition. Then I returned to Medellín, Colombia, to work with students and members of the Filarmónica de Medellín whom I met at the side-by-side concert last September.

The International Horn Symposium in Ghent, Belgium.

William VerMeulen, principal horn
Among other activities, I was a featured artist at the International Horn Symposium in Ghent, Belgium. Only 11 of the top horn players in the world were invited to be featured, and I was the only American among them. There I led a masterclass, performed a recital with the world premiere of a new piece written for me, played with the Belgian Brass, and performed James Horner’s Collage (a concerto for four horns co-commissioned by the Houston Symphony) with the Brussels Philharmonic. We also set a world record with 402 horns rocking the plaza!

Woman poses with bassoon.

Elise Wagner, bassoon
In June, I played a week at the Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I also performed a really cool project at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.—it’s a song cycle for baritone, bassoon, piano, and percussion that was commissioned by Houston’s Foundation for Modern Music a few years ago. I have previously performed it in Houston and New York.

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