You may know the Houston Symphony for its remarkable performances in Jones Hall, but the Symphony is also committed to enriching lives through music beyond the confines of a performance hall. The Houston Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement initiatives are designed to reach the diverse communities of Houston through a robust array of programs. Last season, we served nearly 125,000 people across Greater Houston through bedside performances in area hospitals, free and low-cost community concerts, school visits, and more—all led by our talented orchestra musicians and our dedicated Community-Embedded Musicians (CEMs), David Connor (bass) and Rainel Joubert (violin). Today, we’re looking back at some of our Education and Community Engagement highlights from the 2022-23 Season so you can learn more about how the Symphony fosters musical appreciation and understanding in the Greater Houston area.
Last season, we continued our highly popular Student Concert Series at Jones Hall and other venues around Houston, including the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion and Houston Christian University’s Dunham Theater. The Student Concert Series, available to upper elementary students (grades 4–5) and middle school students (grades 6–8), allows students in the Greater Houston area to attend interactive Houston Symphony orchestra performances for free or at a heavily discounted rate.
Performances take place during the school day and aim to inspire students to begin or continue playing an instrument. In total, we presented 20 concerts for 43,535 students and educators, exceeding our pre-COVID numbers for students served.
High School Nights
Last season, we introduced a new program for students called High School Nights. The High School Nights initiative invites high school students who participate in their school’s orchestra and band programs to attend Symphony concerts at Jones Hall. This unique experience allows these students to experience a dynamic classical concert among other students and regular audience members. Before the concert, students and their music directors are also given an excerpt from one of the works
in the program so they can learn and practice with their orchestra or band. Learning to play an excerpt and then hearing the same piece performed by professional musicians helps connect the students to what they are hearing and inspires them to continue their musical pursuits. We welcomed 2,071 students from 35 schools to Jones Hall for High School Nights last season.
Music and Wellness
Our Music and Wellness program is designed to complement health care throughout the illness trajectory and increase the quality of life for patients, families, and caregivers. Last season, the Houston Symphony continued our partnerships with the Periwinkle Arts in Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers and The University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Center to perform for patients at their bedsides and in group sessions alongside board-certified music
therapists. Over the course of the season, Symphony musicians had 256 personalized patient interactions, providing respite to pediatric cancer patients.
In 2020, the Houston Symphony began a partnership with CarePartners Dementia Day Center to provide monthly interactive concerts for dementia patients. In the 2022-23 Season, the Houston Symphony expanded our work with dementia patients through a new partnership with Amazing Place. Our CEMs were trained on how to engage with individuals with dementia and created a unique series of interactive concerts that includes music from genres and eras conducive to eliciting memories, reducing agitation, and encouraging audience participation. Our work with CarePartners Dementia Day Center and Amazing Place served more than 700 patients through 18 interactive performances.
DeLUXE K!ds In Harmony
In September 2022, the Houston Symphony, in partnership with the Fifth Ward Cultural Arts District’s DeLUXE Theater and the American Festival of the Arts (AFA), launched DeLUXE K!ds In Harmony, a community-based music education program that provides exceptional violin training and social development to elementary students from Houston’s Fifth Ward neighborhood. This intensive and transformational program, with a curriculum led by our CEMs, aims to help students develop
teamwork and leadership skills, build relationships, and feel a sense of pride and belonging to a musical community. In its inaugural year, we’ve taught 72 classes, provided 108 hours of instruction, and put on eight student performances with the students—including two in the Jones Hall lobby after a PNC Family Series concert.
In the 2022-23 Season, we collaborated with more than 650 partner organizations to serve populations such as students, senior citizens, refugees and immigrants, veterans, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, low-income families, bereaved families, and more. These partnerships have culminated in free and low-cost community concerts at venues around the city, the Summer Neighborhood Concert series, our Community Ticket Program, and more. Through these
partnerships, we strive to remove economic and geographical barriers to music so that people from all walks of life can enjoy an inclusive and vibrant cultural landscape in Houston.
We look forward to expanding our industry-leading Education and Community Engagement offerings in the 2023-24 Season and nurture future generations of musicians and music lovers in Houston. If you’d like to learn more about our Education and Community Engagement initiatives, click here.