Press Room

Houston Symphony Celebrates the Holiday Season with Festive Concert Fit for All Ages

HOUSTON (Nov. 29, 2018) – The Houston Symphony celebrates the holiday season with the festive, family-friendly program A Polar Express Christmas at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, featuring two local high school choirs: The Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Chorale and the Davis High School Choir, which makes its Houston Symphony debut.

Led by Associate Conductor Robert Franz, the program features images from the timeless storybook The Polar Express projected on the big screen and seasonal tunes, including a Suite from the film The Polar Express, “Frosty the Snowman” and “Let it Snow.” The concert concludes with a festive, holiday sing-along.

Santa makes an appearance in this program, and is available in the lobby for pictures. An instrument petting zoo – in the lobby beginning one hour before the 10 a.m. concert and immediately following the 11:30 a.m. concert – allows children to hold and play orchestral instruments. Franz always dresses for the occasion in holiday garb, and audiences are encouraged to do the same.

A Polar Express Christmas presented by BBVA Compass takes 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.

Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at 10 a.m.
Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at 11:30 p.m.
Robert Franz, conductor
The Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Chorale
Julia Hall, director
Davis High School Choir
Daryle Freeman and Lanetha Jefferson, directors

About Robert Franz
Robert Franz, acclaimed as a first-rate conductor and award-winning educator, is recognized as a creative force by critics, composers and audiences of all ages. Composer Bright Sheng praised Franz for his “extremely musical and passionate approach towards music making,” and critics hail his “masterly pace, emphasis and technical control.”

In his 11th year as Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony, he is a tireless ambassador for music education and continues to work toward the Symphony’s goal of serving more than 100,000 students by the year 2025. His steady progress has almost doubled attendance during his tenure. Last season, Robert was the first member of the Symphony’s conducting staff honored with the Raphael Fliegel Award for Visionary Leadership, in recognition of his success in advancing the Symphony’s educational and community engagement activities. He leads the orchestra in a broad range of creative education and family concerts, including its summer neighborhood concert series and an outreach program dedicated to bringing music to all Houston communities.

Robert’s expressive and incisive style has placed him in increasing demand as a guest conductor with many renowned orchestras, including The Cleveland Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis and Victoria Symphonies and Italy’s Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina.

ASCAP has recognized Robert 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. The Louisville Orchestra’s award led to the creation of Creating Music and Stories, an education program for Kentucky Educational Television.

Robert’s expertise in music education was recognized by the Idaho Legislature when he was invited to speak about its importance to the education committee. He was also invited to speak at the League of American Orchestras conference on the topic of New Music: Opportunities to Broaden Audiences.

In addition to his current post in Houston, he is music director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra and founder/music director of the Idaho Orchestra Institute. Robert also served as music director of the Boise Philharmonic (2008–16) and the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra in Ohio (2003–10), resident conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (2005–09) and associate conductor of the Louisville Orchestra (1997-2006).

Robert Franz received his Master of Music degree in conducting and his Bachelor of Music degree in oboe performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

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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.

Eric Skelly: (713) 337-8560,
Mireya Reyna: (713) 337-8557,


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