Press Room

Houston Symphony Celebrates Mardi Gras with Family Concert and “Carnival of the Animals”

HOUSTON (Feb. 3, 2017) – The Houston Symphony will celebrate Mardi Gras family-style with performances of Mardi Gras Menagerie! at 10 and 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at Jones Hall. The jazzy, fun-filled celebration will be led by Associate Conductor Robert Franz.

The program will include Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, including elephants, kangaroos and feathery friends vividly brought to life by the orchestra and duo pianists Scott Holshouser and Steven Dong. Holshouser, the Symphony’s principal keyboardist, has been a member of the orchestra since 1980. Dong was the winner of the 2016 Houston Symphony League Concerto Competition. The concert will also include music from “Happy Feet,” featuring Franz’s penguin pal, Mumble.

David Rainey, a resident artist at the Alley Theatre, will narrate the Carnival of the Animals poetry that was written (based on each movement) by second-grade students at Patterson Dual Language Literature Magnet School in Houston ISD. Audiences are encouraged to attend dressed as a favorite animal for the concert.

The concert will take place at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana Street, in Houston’s Theater District. For tickets and information, please call (713) 224-7575 or visit Tickets may also be purchased at the Houston Symphony Patron Services Center in Jones Hall (Monday–Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). All programs and artists are subject to change.

Mardi Gras Menagerie!

  • Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, 11:30 a.m.

Robert Franz Conductor
Scott Holshouser and Steven Dong Pianos
Tickets from $25

About Robert Franz

As Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra, and Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony, Robert Franz’s appeal as a first-rate conductor and enthusiastic award-winning educator is acclaimed by critics, composers and audiences of all ages.

Maestro Franz is in increasing demand as a guest conductor whose recent engagements include appearances with The Cleveland Orchestra, the Baltimore and St. Louis Symphonies, and the Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina in Italy. In his fourth season as the Windsor Symphony’s Music Director, Franz has made a positive impact on the community resulting in the extension of the number of Windsor Symphony subscription weeks and has developed collaborations with the Windsor International Film Festival, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the Canadian Historical Aviation Association, The University of Windsor and St. Clair College.

As Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony Franz was recently honored as the first member of the Symphony conducting staff with the Raphael Fliegel Award for Visionary Leadership. He continues to lead the Symphony in a broad range of creative educational and family concerts, including its summer neighborhood concert series, an outreach program dedicated to bringing music to all of Houston’s communities. Recent highlights include the world premiere of music from the iconic TV series School House Rock for orchestra. During his tenure, attendance at family and educational concerts has almost doubled.

Marking his seventh year as Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra Music Director, Franz continues to direct the festival orchestra, and mentor aspiring conductors with his newly created “Art of Conducting” workshop. A champion of new music, this season Franz will lead the festival chorus in the world premiere of Emerson Eads’ Mass for the Oppressed.

The American Society of Composers has recognized Franz on two occasions for his advocacy in arts education. Under his direction, both the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Louisville Orchestra were awarded the Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming. Franz’s expertise in music education was recognized by the Idaho Legislature when he was invited to speak about its importance and he has also addressed the League of American Orchestra conference on the topic of New Music: Opportunities to Broaden Audiences.

About Steven Dong

Steven is 16 years old and a junior at Clear Lake High School in Houston. Having started piano lessons at age five, he placed in the Iowa Music Teacher’s Association State Competition in 2011. Under the guidance of his piano teacher, John Weems, he placed first in the Houston Forum Young Artist Competitions (2013 and 2014), and he won top awards in the Texas Music Teacher’s Association Student Affiliate Performance Contests (2015 and 2016). In 2015, he collected top prizes at the Clear Lake Symphony Youth Concerto Competition, the Texas State University Young Artist Piano Competition, the Paul Schmitt Piano Competition and the Austin Piano Festival Competition. In 2016, he won first and grand prizes at the Houston Symphony League Concerto Competition, the Juanita Miller Concerto Competition, the Clear Lake Symphony Youth Concerto Competition and the Blinn College Young Pianist Competition. He received Music Doing Good scholarships in 2015 through 2017. Steven wants to study piano in college and be a concert pianist.

About Scott Holshouser

Scott Holshouser, principal keyboardist with the Houston Symphony, has been a member of the orchestra since 1980. He began his musical training in Athens, Georgia and attended Florida State University before moving to Houston to continue his studies at the University of Houston. He is now a member of the faculty at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music. Holshouser is a former staff pianist with the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera and is presently the accompanist for the Houston Symphony Chorus, the Ima Hogg National Young Artist Competition and the Corpus Christi Young Artist Competition.

About David Rainey

David Rainey is an Alley Theatre Resident Company member and Executive Artistic Director of The Landing Theatre Company. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School where he received its highest honor, the Michel and Suria Saint Denis Prize, and has since received numerous awards and nominations for acting and directing. He has recently been seen in A Midsummer Nights Dream, All the Way, One Man Two Guvnors, As You Like It, You Can’t Take It With You, and Clybourne Park. Nationally he has performed for Dallas Theatre Center, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage Company, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the National Actors Theatre, the Guthrie Theatre, Joseph Papp Public Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Acting Company, New York Shakespeare Festival, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Ford’s Theatre, Asolo Theatre Company, Shakespeare Festival LA, Crossroads Theatre Company, HSF, HGO, Stark Naked Theatre Company, among others.

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