Press Room

Trailblazing Female Conductor and Houston Symphony Associate Principal Trumpet Make Debuts at Miller Outdoor Theatre

HOUSTON (June 21, 2018) – The recently-appointed Chief Conductor of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and the first-ever female winner of the prestigious Donatella Flick conducting competition, Elim Chan makes her Houston Symphony debut Friday, June 22, at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Chan joins the orchestra at 8:30 p.m. to open this year’s ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights.

Joining Chan is Rubén Rengel, the Venezuelan winner of the 2018 Sphinx Award, who makes his Houston Symphony debut with Bruch’s lively Violin Concerto No. 1—one of the most popular concertos in the violin repertoire. A Houston resident, Rengel is currently a graduate student at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Chan concludes the program with the wistful melodies of Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony.

The Houston Symphony returns to Miller the next evening under the direction of Nicholas Hersh, the up-and-coming Associate Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, who leads a program that begins with Theofanidis’ Rainbow Body, which has become one of the most often-performed pieces of contemporary classical music since the Houston Symphony commissioned it in 2000. Houston Symphony Associate Principal Trumpet John Parker also joins the program for his solo debut with the orchestra in Böhme’s romantic Trumpet Concerto. Hersh concludes the program with the impassioned and triumphal Symphony No. 5 by Tchaikovsky.

The remaining concerts in the ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights series will take place Friday, June 29, Saturday, June 30, and Wednesday, July 4. Admission is free, but tickets are required for the covered seated area. Tickets are available at the Miller Theatre Box Office the day of the performance between 10:30 a.m and 1 p.m. Any remaining tickets are released one hour before the performance time. Visit for more information.

Friday, June 22, 8:30 p.m.
Elim Chan, conductor
Rubén Rengel, violin
Weber: Overture to Der Freischütz
Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3, Scottish

Saturday, June 23, 8:30 p.m.
Nicholas Hersh, conductor
John Parker, associate principal trumpet
Theofanidis: Rainbow Body
Böhme/Foss: Trumpet Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5

About Elim Chan
Born in Hong Kong, Elim Chan became the first female winner of the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in December 2014. As a result, she held the position of assistant conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in the 2015-16 season and was appointed to the Dudamel Fellowship program with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the 2016-17 season.

Beginning this season, Elim holds the position as principal conductor of the orchestra of NorrlandsOperan with a symphony season in Umeå and concert tours in Sweden, including stops at Stockholm Konserthuset and Göteborg Konserthuset. She becomes principal guest conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Highlights this season include debuts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Orchestra national de Lyon, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, among others. Elim will return to the London Symphony Orchestra for concerts in London and at the Music Academy of the West near Santa Barbara, and to the Orquesta Filarmónica de Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico where she is principal guest conductor.

Recent notable highlights include her North American debuts with orchestras in Berkeley, Detroit and Chicago; the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra; the Lucerne Festival with the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra; Orchestra Philharmonie Luxembourg; National Orchestra of Belgium; The Australian Youth Orchestra and Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria as well as a return visit to the Hong Kong Philharmonic.

Previous engagements include her debuts with National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ottawa, and in 2012, with the Orchestre de la Francophonie as part of the NAC Summer Music Institute where she worked with Pinchas Zukerman, her participation in the Musical Olympus Festival in St. Petersburg, workshops with the Cabrillo Festival and Baltimore orchestras (with Marin Alsop, Gerard Schwarz and Gustav Meier). She also took part in masterclasses with Bernard Haitink in Lucerne in 2015.
Elim Chan holds degrees from Smith College and the University of Michigan where she served as music director of the University of Michigan Campus Symphony Orchestra and the Michigan Pops Orchestra. She received the Bruno Walter Conducting Scholarship in 2013.

About Rubén Rengel
Venezuelan violinist Rubén Rengel, 22, winner of the 2018 annual Sphinx Competition, is currently pursuing his master’s degree at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music under the guidance of Paul Kantor. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of Jaime Laredo and won the CIM Concerto Competition (2014), the Anna Y. Tringas Award for excellence in violin performance at CIM (2013) and the Juan Bautista Plaza National Violin Competition of Venezuela (2011).

As a soloist, he has appeared with the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra, the Firelands Symphony Orchestra, the CIM Orchestra, Virtuosi de Caracas, Filarmonía Caracas and Arcos Juveniles de Caracas, working with conductors such as Theodore Kuchar, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Carl Topilow, Andrew Grams and Ulyses Ascanio.

Rubén has performed at the Teatro Teresa Carreño in Caracas as a soloist, at the Kennedy Center as a representative of CIM, at Carnegie Hall with the New York String Orchestra Seminar and on tour with the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra. He has been concertmaster of the New York Orchestra Seminar, the Shepherd Symphony Orchestra, the CIM Orchestra, the Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra and assistant concertmaster of the Aspen Festival Orchestra.

Rubén attended the Perlman Music Program Chamber Music Workshop and the Meadowmount School of Music. An avid chamber musician, he is a member of the Autana Trio, which won the bronze medal at the 2015 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. His chamber music coaches have included Sharon Robinson, Merry Peckham, Joel Smirnoff, Norman Fischer, James Dunham, Donald Weilerstein, Peter Salaff, Itzhak Perlman and Joseph Silverstein. He has participated in master classes with the Brentano String Quartet, Quatuor Ébène, Sylvia Rosenberg, Leon Fleisher, Peter Wiley and the Miró Quartet.

Rubén began violin at age 3, studying at the National System of Youth Orchestras of Venezuela (El Sistema) until 6. He later studied at the Emil Friedman Conservatory and School in Caracas with Maestro Ivan Pérez Núñez for 11 years. His performances of Venezuelan folk music and Jazz, allow him to develop a talent for improvisation. Rubén also has a strong interest in the art of conducting.

About Nicholas Hersh
Nicholas Hersh is associate conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and artistic director of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras. Since joining the BSO as assistant conductor in 2014, he has continued to make his mark on the mid-Atlantic region with exciting, innovative programming—notably as conductor and co-curator of the acclaimed BSO Pulse series, bringing together indie bands and orchestral musicians in unique collaborations.

Nicholas directs the BSO’s educational and family programming, including the celebrated Academy for adult amateur musicians, as well as a variety of classical and popular programs. He made his BSO subscription debut when he stepped in for an indisposed Yan Pascal Tortelier, and has since conducted the BSO in a set of subscription concerts each season.

In the 2017-18 season, Nicholas debuted with the Alexandria and Asheville Symphonies and conducted the BSO with pianist Joyce Yang. He debuted with the North Carolina Symphony in 2017, and he has appeared with the New World and Southern Great Lakes Symphonies, the New Jersey and Auburn Symphony Orchestras, and the National Repertory Orchestra. He is a frequent collaborator and guest faculty at the Peabody Conservatory as well as the BSO’s OrchKids program for Baltimore City schoolchildren.

Nicholas grew up in Evanston, Illinois, and started his musical training with the cello. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Stanford University and a master’s degree in conducting from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, studying with David Effron and Arthur Fagen. In 2011 and 2012, he was a conducting fellow with the prestigious Aspen Conducting Academy, studying with mentors Robert Spano, Hugh Wolff and Larry Rachleff, and has participated in master classes with Bernard Haitink and Michael Tilson Thomas. Nicholas is a two-time recipient of the Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award.

Nicholas is a skilled arranger and orchestrator. He’s had frequent arrangement commissions from the BSO as well as from the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, the National Repertory Orchestra and the Jackson Symphony. His symphonic arrangement of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody saw worldwide success as a viral YouTube hit.

About John Parker
John Parker, a native of High Point, North Carolina, joined the Houston Symphony in May 2016 as Associate Principal Trumpet. Previously, he was principal trumpet with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, a position he attained after his undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). At UNC, he was a recipient of the Kenan Music Scholarship, the Department of Music’s premier scholarship, and the Frank Comfort Scholarship. John has performed as principal trumpet of the Charleston, Roanoke and Greensboro Symphony Orchestras. He attended the Aspen Music Festival and School on a full fellowship in 2012 and 2013 and has performed twice as a soloist at the National Trumpet Competition.

About the Houston Symphony
During the 2018-19 season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its fifth 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, one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas, held its inaugural performance at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $33.9 million, the full-time ensemble of 88 professional musicians presents nearly 170 concerts annually, making it the largest performing arts organization in Houston. Additionally, musicians of the orchestra and the Symphony’s four Community-Embedded Musicians offer over 900 community-based performances each year, reaching thousands of people in Greater Houston.

The Grammy Award-winning Houston Symphony has recorded under various prestigious labels, including Naxos, Koch International Classics, Telarc, RCA Red Seal, Virgin Classics and, most recently, Dutch recording label PENTATONE. In 2017, the Houston Symphony was awarded an ECHO Klassik award for the live recording of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck under the direction of former Music Director Hans Graf. The orchestra earned its first Grammy nomination and Grammy Award at the 60th annual ceremony for the same recording in the Best Opera Recording category.

For tickets and more information, please visit or call 713-224-7575.

Mireya Reyna: (713) 337-8557,


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