HOUSTON, TX (Sept. 28, 2021) — The Houston Symphony announced today that John Cisneros, Ed.D is the Symphony’s Hispanic Leadership Council Chair for the 2021–22 Season. The Hispanic Leadership Council is a membership group comprising business, education, and community leaders who advise the Symphony on how it can better connect with the Hispanic population in Greater Houston. Their guidance assists the Symphony in providing meaningful musical experiences to the Hispanic community through a number of education and community partnerships and performances, thereby expanding its impact on the community, and improving the overall diversity of the symphony’s audience.
A lifelong educator, John Cisneros is a proud sixth-generation Texan focused on providing equitable educational, social, and cultural experiences for Latinos throughout his career, which encompasses over four decades spanning the public, non-profit, and private sectors in Louisiana, California, and Texas.
When the Texas Legislature authorized the establishment of charter schools in 1995, Cisneros became the founding superintendent and principal of the first open-enrollment charter school in San Antonio, a high school serving non-traditional students. He served as principal of a K-8 parochial school in Austin, which was selected as a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School, the first private school in Travis County to earn the award. Cisneros was invited to join the Houston Independent School District as the Central Region Director, where he shared leadership responsibility for 54 campuses, enrolling more than 30,000 students. He is currently Communications Director for the Tejano Center for Community Concerns.
Cisneros holds a doctorate in Educational Administration with a doctoral portfolio certification in Mexican-American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, a master’s degree in Educational Policy, Planning, and Administration from the University of Southern California, and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a Finance concentration from St. Edward’s University.
“With his distinguished background as an educator who has always championed the cause of cultural diversity, inclusion, and equitable access,” said Houston Symphony Executive Director, CEO, and Holder of the Margaret Alkek Williams Chair John Mangum, “and with his three years on the Hispanic Leadership Council, I can’t imagine anyone better to chair this vital arm of our organization as we continue to chart the Symphony’s future.”
Specific Council initiatives include numerous performances at cultural festivals and free or low-cost concerts performed by the Houston Symphony, including its annual Fiesta Sinfónica concert and Lunada, a performance presented in partnership with the Mexican Institute of Greater Houston. July 2019, under the Council’s direction, the Houston Symphony presented a special concert series “The Music of Selena.” Guest conductor Andrés Franco led the Houston Symphony and special guest vocalist Isabel Marie Sánchez in an evening of the iconic music of the Queen of Tejano.
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.
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