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Violinist Patricia Quintero Garcia and Violist Alexa Thomson Appointed New Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musicians After Extensive International Search

HOUSTON (Dec. 3, 2018) – The Houston Symphony announces the addition of violinist Patricia Quintero Garcia and violist Alexa Sangbin Thomson to its Community Embedded Musicians initiative, now in its fourth year. Quintero Garcia and Thomson succeed violist Anthony Parce and cellist Hellen Weberpal, who left in August for positions with the Nashville and Atlanta Symphonies, respectively.

Quintero Garcia and Thomson join the program after an extensive International search and selection process that drew 106 candidates, all of whom submitted applications and answered questions regarding community engagement. Of those 106, 45 were invited to Houston for live auditions, interviews, and teaching demonstrations with local schoolchildren. The field was winnowed down to nine, and Quintero Garcia and Thomson were offered the positions from among that nine, joining violinist Rainel Joubert and bassist David Connor to comprise the four musicians of the Symphony’s Community-Embedded Musician initiative.

“Both Patricia and Alexa perfectly embody what we look for in our Community-Embedded Musicians,” said Pam Blaine, Chief of Education and Community Engagement, “world-class artists who can perform with the Houston Symphony, then turn right around the next day and engage and enthrall a classroom of grade schoolers, teaching them how to find meaning in art. These musicians are on a journey to transform lives daily in Houston’s diverse communities, and I look forward to seeing Patricia and Alexa join Rainel and David on that path.”

“I am incredibly excited to be a Community-Embedded Musician,” said Alexa Sangbin Thomson. “What a valuable opportunity to change lives through music! Perhaps the most exciting thing for me about this particular setup is the ability to work with a team of people dedicated towards this common goal, sharing ideas and inspirations, feeding each other’s creativity and passion and making these connections happen.”

Patricia Quintero Garcia concurred, adding “I am very excited to be part of this wonderful group of people and I look forward to contributing to their mission.”

First up for Quintero Garcia and Thomson are performances with the Houston Symphony at Jones Hall: Quintero Garcia performs at the December 4th Upper Elementary Student Concert on the Robbins Foundation Student Concert Series, and both Quintero Garcia and Thomson perform in the December 8th A Polar Express Christmas on the BBVA Compass Family Concert Series.

About the Community-Embedded Musician Program
Prior to the program’s inception in 2015, the Houston Symphony provided approximately 200 individual and small group activities. The Community-Embedded Musician initiative has allowed the Houston Symphony to provide over 1000 such activities annually, in hospitals, schools, community centers and myriad other venues. They educate, engage and excite thousands of children and adults through hundreds of interactions in underserved areas.

The four musicians have up to 40 opportunities each year to perform as part of the Houston Symphony. However, they spend the great majority (over 80%) of their time planning and engaging in education and community programs throughout Greater Houston. These Community-Embedded Musician positions are essentially hybrids: both team members of the Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement Department, as well as frequent substitute musicians in the orchestra.

The Community-Embedded Musician initiative is made possible through the investment of these generous supporters: Spec’s Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods/Spec’s Charitable Foundation, National Endowment of the Arts, the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, BBVA Compass, Mr. Monzer Hourani, H-E-B, Jay Steinfeld and Barbara Winthrop, and Nancy and Robert Peiser.

Community-Embedded Musician Bios
Patricia Quintero Garcia
A native of Havana, Cuba, Patricia started playing the violin at the age of eight, eventually graduating from The Superior Institute of Arts, University in Havana and obtaining her Master’s degree in violin performance from the University of Southern Mississippi and Performance Diplomas from Indiana University School of Music. She has performed as a soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of Havana and the Philharmonic orchestra of Caracas, Venezuela, and has served as concertmaster at the Opera and Ballet Symphony Orchestra in Cuba, and Chamber Orchestra of Havana. She has played in orchestras conducted by such renowned conductors as Claudio Abbado and Gustavo Dudamel, as well as in master classes with Paul Kantor, Guidon Kremer, Nicholas Kitchen, Nadja Salerno and the Borromeo Quartet. She founded the Havana String Quartet, and collaborated with artists such as Leo Brouwer, E. Gismonti, and Edin Karamazov. She joined the Vera Quartet in the Spring of 2016, and recently toured as part of the Sphinx Virtousi.

Alexa Sangbin Thomson
Alexa Sangbin Thomson is a dual citizen of New Zealand and the United States who grew up in the midwestern U.S. and enjoyed her first musical success as concertmaster of the South Dakota All State Orchestra in high school, studying violin with her father Dr. John Thomson. After moving to New Zealand with her family, she continued her studies at the New Zealand School of Music (BMus(Hons), 2014) in Wellington, New Zealand where she was “turned to the dark side” and switched to the viola. After a year at Pennsylvania State University she pursued her Master’s degree with James Dunham at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, finishing in May of 2018. Her career highlights include playing at Carnegie Hall with the Shepherd School Symphony, performing with members of the Silk Road Ensemble, performing as a soloist on numerous occasions with the Nelson Symphony and Capitol Performing Arts Orchestra, receiving the NZSO’s Alex Lindsay Award, and winning an orchestral fellowship with the Auckland Philharmonia. During her time at Rice University she was a Brown Fellow, working with Rachel Buchman teaching Dalcroze-Eurythmics inspired classes. She also developed two musical outreach programs, supported by the Sviatoslav Richter Award for musical outreach: “Viola Aotearoa” (focusing on New Zealand viola music) and “The Alternative Viola” (inspired by non-classical genres). Most recently she presented one of her outreach programs at the 45th International Viola Congress in the Netherlands.

David Connor
David Connor was born in Chelmsford, MA and began playing the double bass when he was 9 years old. He joined the Houston Symphony as a Community-Embedded Musician after two seasons with the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida. Connor earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University and his Master of Music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. While at Rice, he was a fellow of the Da Camera of Houston Young Artist Program for two seasons, which led to many community outreach opportunities and chamber music collaborations in the Greater Houston area. Connor has participated in summer festivals including Music Academy of the West, Aspen, Sarasota, Domaine Forget and the Britten Pears Young Artist Program. He has been a recipient of the Aspen Academy Orchestra Fellowship and was chosen in 2011 to be a member of the New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Jaime Laredo. As a member of the New World Symphony, he has had the opportunity to teach double bass both at home and abroad, traveling to Medellín, Colombia and Geneva, Switzerland in 2014.

Rainel Joubert
Rainel hails from Cuba and came to the United States in 2012. While pursuing a master’s degree in violin performance at the University of Southern Mississippi, he successfully competed in the 15th Annual Sphinx Competition and has subsequently toured the United States with the Sphinx Virtuosi. He began his musical studies at the age of seven, studied at Cuba’s Manuel Saumell Conservatory and High Institute of Arts, and has been a member of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba and the Latin American Youth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Claudio Abbado. In addition to his outstanding musical and education/community skills, Joubert is fluent in Spanish (native), Portuguese and English.

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.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Eric Skelly: (713) 337-8560,
eric.skelly@houstonsymphony.org

Mireya Reyna: (713) 337-8557,
mireya.reyna@houstonsymphony.org

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