Press Room


Houston Symphony Announces 2018-19 Season

HOUSTON (Jan. 24, 2018) – The Houston Symphony and Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada announced today details of the 2018-19 season, which marks Orozco-Estrada’s fifth year as music director. Highlights of the season include conducting appearances by world-class violinists Joshua Bell and Itzhak Perlman; the world premiere of Aurora, a violin concerto by Houston Symphony Composer-in-Residence Jimmy López; and a semi-staged opera performance of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

The 2018-19 season, a showcase for the world-class musicians of the orchestra, features an extraordinary roster of both established and rising guest artists in what promises to be an exhilarating experience for new and returning audiences. In the 2018-19 season, the Houston Symphony and Orozco-Estrada will continue their commitment and tradition of exploring a wide-range of repertoire to offer audiences musical experiences from the past and present, from new and rarely-performed works, to the most popular pieces and composers of the classical repertoire.

“I’m proud and look forward to sharing the stage with the incredible members of our orchestra and sharing these wonderful musical experiences and our bold sound with our city,” said Orozco-Estrada. “The classical series features some of the world’s greatest conductors and soloists, as well as powerful masterworks, new works and lesser-known music. This is going to be a wonderful season; full of energy, passion and great music. I encourage everyone to give themselves the opportunity to come and discover a complete new universe.”

The Houston Symphony Chorus, led by Dr. Betsy Cook Weber, will be featured in four subscription programs, including the season opener, Mahler’s Resurrection; Dvořák’s Stabat Mater; Carmina Burana and Rachmaninoff’s The Bells.

“The Houston Symphony Chorus is an incredible group of singers, so I was looking forward to featuring them in a particularly important way in the new season,” said Orozco-Estrada. “It’s also a way for us to continue what we started when we first recorded the last four Dvořák symphonies; the music of Dvořák is part of what we do best.”

This season, Orozco-Estrada will conclude his comprehensive cycle of Charles Ives’ symphonies, a four-year journey begun in 2015. Considered one of America’s greatest musical pioneers and prophets, Ives’ unique style helped him become widely known as an “American original.” And so, the four movements of Ives’ Symphony No. 4 will be divided over concerts spanning the entire season, explored with audiences in a bold and in-depth manner.

As a champion of lesser-known repertoire and an avid supporter of new music, Orozco-Estrada will once again feature music by living composers, including a newly-commissioned violin concerto by Composer-in-Residence Jimmy López. His violin concerto Aurora is a stunning piece that combines light displays with musical luminescence to immerse audiences in the breathtaking beauty of the Northern Lights. Other featured living composers include young American composer Timo Andres and Finnish composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Halfway through the season, the phenomenal pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane leads a program of symphonic gems with a French twist and Jazz Age flair. Featured will be Ravel’s bluesy, dreamy Concerto in G and the original jazz band version of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, one of the most enduringly popular works in all classical music.

Houston Symphony Principal Cello Briton Averil Smith is a featured soloist this season, taking center stage for d’Albert’s lyrical Cello Concerto, a rarely performed piece which Smith describes as “Rachmaninoff for the cello.” The second half then features the bold and bawdy, fiery and visceral Carmina Burana, one of the most instantly recognizable pieces in all of music. This program will be led by Israeli conductor Yaniv Dinur, who will be making his Classical Series debut following a sensational 2016 Miller Outdoor Theatre performance.

The classical season concludes with a complete semi-staged performance of Bartok’s only opera, Bluebeard’s Castle, a riveting psychological thriller based on a French folktale about the title character, his young wife Judith and the depths of Bluebeard’s dark secrets, kept locked away. Highly-sought -after opera stars Michelle DeYoung and Matthias Goerne will join the full orchestra in a very visual performance featuring special lighting elements and a narrator to guide audiences through the storyline.

“The Houston Symphony is at a great moment in its history. We have a wonderful partnership between our Music Director, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, and the musicians of the orchestra, and that provides a strong foundation on which we can build for the future,” said Executive Director/CEO-designate John Mangum. “The music-making at Jones Hall whenever the Symphony is on stage is at an incredibly high level, and it’s extremely exciting to be a part of that.”


Mahler’s Musical Drama
The 2018-19 classical season features extraordinary virtuosos of today and the most exhilarating masterworks of all time. The awe-inspiring new season begins with Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada leading Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, the composer’s saga of man’s journey through life and death in all its beautiful and terrifying splendor. The electrifying performance features more than 250 musicians, including members of the Houston Symphony Chorus and Houston favorites soprano Nicole Heaston and Grammy Award—inning mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor.

Former Music Director Christoph Eschenbach returns to the Jones Hall stage to lead the Houston Symphony in Mahler’s extraordinary final symphony, his Ninth Symphony, an all-encompassing musical drama that ends with a breathtaking descent into rapt silence. This program also features Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto played by famed Canadian violinist Leila Josefowicz. Considered a major contemporary work, it is the composer’s only violin concerto and written specifically for Josefowicz.

Featured Play/Conduct Performances
Legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman returns to Houston as conductor and soloist in a program of musical delights, including Bach’s crowd-pleasing Concerto in A Minor, Schumann’s rhythmic and rustic Fourth Symphony and Mozart’s ingenious Symphony No. 40, one of the most beloved works ever composed. Later in the season, American Grammy Award—winner Joshua Bell, one of the most praised and incomparable violinists today, returns to Jones Hall to play and lead an inspiring all-Beethoven program.

Debussy’s La mer
Acclaimed French conductor Ludovic Morlot returns to conduct Debussy’s La mer, an immortal masterpiece that stands as one of the most stunning achievements in symphonic music. A luminous all-French program spotlights world-renowned mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in Berlioz’ poignant reveries of love and loss, Les nuits d’été.

The Seven Deadly Sins
Star vocalist and POPS Series favorite Storm Large makes her Classical Series debut in Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins, the tale of one sister (Anna) with two personalities (one sensible, one sultry) on a seven-city pursuit of the American dream. Large brings her riveting signature interpretation of “Anna” to Houston, having earned rave reviews everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the Kennedy Center. And making their Houston Symphony debut as “The Family” is vocal quartet Hudson Shad. This biting satirical depiction of capitalism will be presented in an intimate cabaret style.

Distinguished Conductors and Artists
The classical season includes return appearances by pianists Inon Barnatan, Yefim Bronfman, Garrick Ohlsson and Simon Trpčeski and as well as violin virtuosos Joshua Bell, Karen Gomyo, Leila Josefowicz, Leticia Moreno, Itzhak Perlman and Baiba Skride. Making his Houston Symphony debut is Spanish pianist Javier Perianes.

Vocalist Matthias Goerne (baritone) will be making his debut this season while returning POPS Series vocalist Storm Large makes her Classical Series debut alongside vocal quartet Hudson Shad in Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins. Nicole Heaston (soprano), Kelley O’Connor (mezzo-soprano) and Michelle DeYoung (mezzo-soprano) return to Jones Hall. Plus, Texan mezzo-soprano Susan Graham returns for a luminous French music program featuring music by Berlioz and Debussy.

In addition to Music Director Orozco-Estrada’s conducting appearances during the subscription season, the Houston Symphony welcomes back distinguished conductors Christoph Eschenbach, Fabien Gabel, Jane Glover, Jeffrey Kahane, Ludovic Marlot, Bramwell Tovey and Edo de Waart. Making their Houston Symphony debuts are Yaniv Dinur and Kazushi Ono. Also making his Classical Series debut is David Danzmayr after a successful Miller Outdoor Theatre performance in the summer 2017. Plus, famous violinist Joshua Bell makes his conducting debut with Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony.

The Margaret Alkek Williams Sound + Vision Concert Experience
The “Margaret Alkek Williams Sound + Vision” programs provide an enhanced concert experience by featuring surtitles, lighting, video, dance and/or use of in-hall screens, among other visual aesthetics. The programs are intended to bring more clarity and help tell the stories of music being performed.

The “Margaret Alkek Williams Sound + Vision” series is supported in part by The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts. Video enhancements for the Houston Symphony are made possible through a grant from the Albert and Ethel Herztein Charitable Foundation. These donors’ generous investment allows the Houston Symphony to present industry-leading multimedia projects, and enhances the concert visually to provide new experiences, insight and enjoyment to audiences.

Houston Symphony Chorus
The Houston Symphony will feature the Houston Symphony Chorus in four classical programs in 2018-19, three of which will be led by Music Director Orozco-Estrada. Choral masterpieces featured this season are Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Dvořák’s religious cantata Stabat Mater; the magnificent Carmina Burana, and Rachmaninoff’s The Bells.

The Houston Symphony Chorus will also be featured in performances of Handel’s Messiah and Very Merry Pops, which have both become true Houston holiday traditions. In her fifth season as Director of the Chorus, Dr. Betsy Cook Weber, a professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, prepares the all-volunteer chorus for all performances.

The classical season is endowed by The Wortham Foundation, Inc. in memory of Gus S. and Lyndall F. Wortham. Orozco-Estrada is the fourth music director to hold the Roy and Lillie Cullen Chair; a position endowed in perpetuity by The Cullen Foundation.


Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke embarks on his second season as the leader of the nine-concert POPS Series, featuring dazzling circus acts, nostalgic pop hits, movies on the big screen, and the music people know and love. “This season’s POPS Series is full of fantastic music, wonderful guest artists, and such a wide variety of music that’s going to satisfy everyone’s taste with our fantastic Houston Symphony,” said Reineke.

The POPS Series opens with superstar vocalist and Vegas headliner Frankie Moreno in Viva Las Vegas. The orchestra and Reineke, along with Moreno, will perform hits from The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and “the King,” Elvis Presley.

The 2018-19 POPS Series continues with a tribute to Rock and Roll and Grammy Hall of Fame Swedish pop group, ABBA. Reineke leads the orchestra and Finnish a cappella ensemble Rajaton in The Music of ABBA, featuring ABBA’s greatest hits like “Dancing Queen,” “S.O.S.” and “Mamma Mia.”

The Houston Symphony then welcomes back conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos for An American in Paris—Film with Live Orchestra. Kitsopoulos conducts the complete soundtrack of the Academy Award-winning film, which stars Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron and tells the story of an American ex-GI who falls in love with a Parisian woman. The jazz-influenced orchestral work by George Gershwin was inspired by the time he had spent in Paris and it evokes the sights and energy of the French capital.

The Houston Symphony celebrates the holiday season with vocalist and Broadway star Ali Ewoldt, who stars as Christine in Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera. Ewoldt joins the Houston Symphony Chorus, the orchestra and Reineke in the annual Very Merry Pops extravaganza performing unforgettable renditions of holiday classics.

The second half of the POPS Series begins with the celebration of an iconic decade for music, highlighting the sounds of the ‘80s influenced by soft rock, unforgettable dance beats and glam metal. Vocalists Nicole Parker (Mad TV) and Aaron Finley (Broadway’s Kinky Boots) join guest conductor Stuart Chafetz in Totally ‘80s to perform nostalgic favorites.

For a celebration of the Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, the Houston Symphony welcomes female powerhouse vocalists Montego Glover (Tony nominee), Capathia Jenkins and N’Kenge for The Ella Fitzgerald Songbook. Reineke leads the orchestra on Valentine’s Day weekend with romantic songs by Fitzgerald like “Our Love is Here to Stay,” and “Summertime.”

For the first time ever in Houston, fans of the Star Wars franchise can watch the first film in the original trilogy like never before. Steven Reineke leads the orchestra in John Williams’ unforgettable score as the complete film is projected on the big screen. Star Wars: A New Hope—In Concert will take place March 22 -24 at Jones Hall.

Former Principal POPS conductor Michael Krajewski returns to Jones Hall to conduct Cirque de la Symphonie, a gravity-defying, stunningly visual and musical spectacle that will bring the magic of cirque to Jones Hall as word-class acrobats, aerial flyers, contortionists, strongmen, and jugglers perform perfectly choreographed routines to classical favorites performed live by the orchestra. Since their Houston debut in 2006, Cirque de la Symphonie has performed to rave reviews with sold-out, enthusiastic crowds around the world.

The Houston Symphony and Reineke conclude the 2018-19 POPS Series with Song and Dance: The Best of Broadway, a brand-new program featuring the great overtures, dance segments, and choral numbers from the Golden Age of Broadway, from Rodgers and Hammerstein and Leonard Bernstein, to Jule Styne and more. The Houston Symphony Chorus joins Reineke and the orchestra in this show stopping series finale.


On select Saturday mornings throughout each season, the Houston Symphony presents its BBVA Compass Family Series, a popular cultural Saturday morning destination designed for families and children of all ages. This season, the four-concert series features educational, fun-for-all performances led by Associate Conductor Robert Franz.

“I’m so thrilled to be announcing our 18-19 Family Series here at the Houston Symphony. For me, one of the great joys in life is to share music with audiences of all ages,” said Franz. “I’m particularly fond of these family concerts because here we have together young children and parents and grandparents all experiencing something together, and it really warms my heart, all these cross- generational connections that are being made all around classical music.”

The BBVA Compass Family Concert Series kicks off with Prokofiev’s enchanting Peter and the Wolf, one of the most beloved children’s tales of all time, in which the courageous Peter and his animal friends outwit the fearsome Wolf. Peter and the Wolf will be paired with popular songs from Disney’s The Lion King—“Hakuna Matata,” “The Circle of Life,” and more. A local high school chorus will be featured in this program.

For the holiday season, the Symphony invites families to A Polar Express Christmas, a timeless tale of a boy’s journey to the North Pole. Images from the original storybook will be projected on large screens, plus patrons will participate in a holiday sing-along with the orchestra with festive favorites like “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Let it Snow.”

Days before the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Symphony’s third family concert, Wild, Wild West, will prepare Houstonians for the rodeo with Copland’s “Hoedown,” and Rossini’s William Tell Overture, plus music from Toy Story 2, Oklahoma! and much more.

Franz and the orchestra close out the 2018-19 BBVA Compass Family Series with Once Upon a Time, featuring ballet dancers who will bring to life the music of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, Prokofiev’s Cinderella, Stravinsky’s Firebird and much more.

Family programs include interactive lobby activities, such as an Instrument Petting Zoo – which encourages children to try out orchestral instruments – theme-related music and craft activities. These activities take place one-hour before the 10 a.m. concerts and one-hour following the 11:30 a.m. concerts. Concertgoers are also encouraged to dress in costumes that match the concert’s theme. Franz’ appearances are generously sponsored by Ms. Marie Taylor Bosarge.


Summer Series at Jones Hall
The lineup for the Houston Symphony 2018 Summer Series at Jones Hall includes Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™—In Concert, The Music of George Michael, and the world premiere performance of Apollo 13—Film with Live Orchestra.

The Harry Potter phenomenon continues with the third film of the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™—In Concert. The Houston Symphony will perform every note from John Williams’ sensational score June 15-17, 2018, while audiences relive the magic of the film projected in high definition on the big screen. The Houston Symphony Chorus is featured in this program.

On July 14, 2018, The Music of George Michael will treat fans to a tribute of some of his greatest hits as the Houston Symphony celebrates the life and legacy of this iconic artist with hits from “Faith” and “Careless Whisper” to “One More Try” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.”

The following weekend (July 21, 2018), the world premiere of Apollo 13—Film with Live Orchestra, starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton, will take audiences on a suspenseful space-thrilling journey as they watch the complete film on a giant screen at Jones Hall while the Houston Symphony performs James Horner’s Oscar—nominated score perfectly synchronized to the film. The orchestra will be joined by the Houston Symphony Chorus.

Opening Night Concert & Gala
The Houston Symphony’s Opening Night Concert welcomes debuting conductor Gustavo Gimeno Sept. 8, 2018, in an exciting program featuring music by Ravel, Barber and Prokofiev. Joining Gimeno and the orchestra is international pianist Yuja Wang, whose playing is characterized by critics as ‘charismatic,’ ‘breathtaking’ and ‘flawless.’ Wang will perform Ravel’s virtuosic Concerto for the Left Hand. The evening will begin with a champagne reception at The Corinthian followed by the Opening Night Concert at Jones Hall. Following the concert, the celebration will continue at The Corinthian with dinner by Jackson and Company and sensational entertainment. The Opening Night Concert at Jones Hall and Gala at The Corinthian are generously supported by ConocoPhillips, the lead concert sponsor and corporate gala underwriter for the 32nd year.

Holiday Specials
On Dec. 15, 2018, the Houston Symphony presents a holiday film fit for the season. Back by popular demand, Home Alone—Film with Live Orchestra features the complete comedy classic set to the charming and delightful score by renowned composer John Williams. The film’s soundtrack will be performed live by the Houston Symphony, joined by the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Chorale. Guest conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos returns to lead this fun holiday program for the entire family.

A Houston holiday tradition each season, the Houston Symphony, chorus and guest soloists come together Dec. 21-23, 2018 in a performance of Handel’s Messiah. Baroque music specialist Jane Glover returns to conduct this timeless English-language oratorio about the life and death of Jesus Christ.

2018-19 subscribers get first access to Symphony Specials like Opening Night with Yuja Wang and Summer Series performances, as well as newly-announced performances throughout the season, including the Houston Symphony’s most in-demand concerts.


The Houston Symphony is committed to increasing the quality of life in Houston through music education and community engagement programs. These programs will serve more than 100,000 Houstonians of all ages and backgrounds during the 2018-19 season.

From early childhood to high school and beyond, the Houston Symphony’s education programs are designed to nurture a life-long love of music. Houston Symphony musicians can be found throughout Greater Houston, from senior centers to hospitals and schools inspiring and lifting the spirits of people through the power of music.

The Houston Symphony also partners with a variety of social service agencies, senior centers and hospitals to enrich lives, empower individuals and bridge diverse communities through music. The Houston Symphony is a resource to help young musicians at all levels in the pursuit of music-making. For more information, visit

Ima Hogg Competition
The Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition is a prestigious international, multi-instrument competition for young musicians and one of the few nationwide competitions annually open to all standard orchestral instruments and piano. The competition has been known to catapult the careers of young musicians as performing artists, with past winners having earned countless national and international awards worldwide as well as prestigious positions in major orchestras.

First- and second-place winners are awarded the opportunity to rehearse and perform with the Houston Symphony in front of large audiences. The finals to be held June 2, 2018, will be broadcast live on Houston Public Media’s News 88.7. This season’s Ima Hogg Competition, chaired by Barbara McCelvey, will be held at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

Houston Symphony Season Partners
Support from the Houston Symphony’s corporate, foundation and government partners allows the orchestra to reach new artistic heights in music, education and community engagement. The Houston Symphony 2017-18 partners include Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods/Spec’s Charitable Foundation, BBVA Compass, Houston Methodist (Official Health Care Provider), United Airlines (Official Airline), and media partners ABC-13 (Official Television Partner) and Houston Public Media (Media Partner). Series support comes from Bank of America, Shell, Rand Group and Frost Bank.

Ticket Information
Season tickets for the 2018-19 season, including the Classical, POPS and BBVA Compass Family Series, are on sale now. Classical Series packages start at $135; POPS Series at $156; and BBVA Compass Family Series at $92 (adults) and $65 (children). Subscriber benefits include presale access to Symphony Specials and free ticket exchanges. Single tickets for fall and spring concert tickets will go on at a later date. For more information or to purchase, visit or call the Houston Symphony Patron Services Center at (713) 224-7575, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

About the Houston Symphony
During the 2018-19 season, the Houston Symphony will celebrate 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 on 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 more than 900 community-based performances each year, reaching thousands of people in Greater Houston. For tickets and more information, please visit or call (713) 224-7575.

Vanessa Astros: (713) 337-8560,
Mireya Reyna: (713) 337-8557,


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