HOUSTON, TX (Sept. 7, 2021) — Next month, the Houston Symphony’s annual free Fiesta Sinfónica concert returns to Jones Hall after a yearlong COVID-induced absence with a vibrant and rhythmic program under the direction of guest conductor Rafael Enrique Irizarry, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. An annual Houston tradition dating back to 1992, Fiesta Sinfónica celebrates Houston’s diversity and honors Hispanic Heritage Month.
With support from Chevron, the Symphony welcomes Irizarry, current Associate Conductor of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra (PRSO), who makes his Houston Symphony debut in the program. A finalist in the 1995 Leonard Bernstein Orchestral Conducting competition at the Tanglewood Music Festival, Irizarry has held the post of Associate Conductor with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra since 2015 while also serving as a French horn player with the orchestra for over 30 years.
For this performance, Irizarry leads the orchestra through a colorful, multicultural program while giving a special nod to his native Puerto Rican roots with an orchestral arrangement of the well-known Puerto Rican bolero En Mi Viejo San Juan by Noel Estrada—often considered an unofficial national anthem for Puerto Rico. Plus, Jack Delano’s Sinfonietta para Cuerdas—based on Puerto Rican rhythms—and selections from Bernstein’s masterpiece multicultural musical, West Side Story. The program also features works like the “Final Dance” from Falla’s Suite No. 2 from El Sombrero de tres picos, selections from Bizet’s Suites No. 1 and 2 from Carmen, Moncayo’s Huapango, and the finale of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, Opus 34.
Saturday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m.
Rafael Enrique Irizarry, conductor
Fiesta Sinfónica takes place on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana Street, in Houston’s Theater District. This concert will have no intermission. For tickets and information, please call 713.224.7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. Tickets are free to the general public and are available at the Houston Symphony Patron Services Center in Jones Hall (Monday–Saturday, 12–6 p.m.). Seating will be available first come, first served. COVID safety protocols, such as mandatory mask wearing for the audience, are in place. Learn more at houstonsymphony.org/safety. All programs and artists are subject to change.
Fiesta Sinfónica is made possible through the support of Chevron. Additional support provided by Univision Houston and Amor 106.5FM, our Hispanic media partners.
About the Houston Symphony
During the 2021–22 Season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its final season under Andrés Orozco-Estrada as Music Director and continues its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring, and recording activities. One of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas, the Symphony held its inaugural performance at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston on June 21, 1913. Today, with an operating budget of $28.8 million (FY22), the full-time ensemble of professional musicians presents nearly 170 (FY19) concerts annually, making it the largest performing arts organization in Houston. Additionally, musicians of the orchestra and the Symphony’s two Community-Embedded Musicians offer over 1,000 (FY19) community-based performances each year at various schools, community centers, hospitals, and churches reaching more than 200,000 (FY19) people in Greater Houston annually, prior to COVID-19.
After suspending concert activities in March 2020 and cancelling the remainder of 2019–20 events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Symphony resumed activities in May 2020, opening the 2020–21 Season on schedule in September 2020 with small audiences of 150, which the Symphony gradually increased to 450 audience members per performance. Due to the financial impact of the canceled 2019–20 Season events, plus the reduction of sales capacity due to audience social distancing in 2020–21, the Symphony cut expenses, reducing planned spending from $36.2 million in 2019–20 to $22.7 million in 2020–21. The Houston Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement team continued to fulfill its mission through creative and virtual means throughout this period. The Symphony successfully completed a full season with in-person audiences and weekly livestreams of each performance, making it one of the only orchestras in the world to do so.
The Grammy Award-winning Houston Symphony has recorded under various prestigious labels, including Koch International Classics, Naxos, RCA Red Seal, Telarc, 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.