Press Room

Local High School Singers Join the Houston Symphony for Holiday Concert Fit For All Ages

HOUSTON (Nov. 16, 2017) – The Houston Symphony will be joined by members of the North Shore Senior High School Chorus at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2, for A Grinch Christmas, a festive concert centered on Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale.

Led by Associate Conductor Robert Franz, the program features beloved holiday classics like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and The Polar Express hit “Believe,” which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in 2005 as well as a Grammy Award in 2006. The concert concludes with an interactive holiday sing-along.

In addition to the high school chorus, the holiday program also features American baritone Ben Edquist, a recent graduate of the distinguished Houston Grand Opera Studio. Both Edquist and the North Shore Senior High School Chorus will be making their Houston Symphony debuts.

Craft activities and an instrument petting zoo, which allows children to hold and play orchestral instruments, will be offered in the lobby beginning one hour before the 10 a.m. concert and immediately following the 11:30 a.m. concert. Franz always dresses up for the occasion, and audiences are encouraged to do the same.

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.

Due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey on Jones Hall, the Theater District Parking Garage is closed until further notice. For a list of nearby alternatives, visit /Plan-Your-Visit/Directions-Parking/jones.

Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, 10 a.m.
Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, 11:30 a.m.
Robert Franz, conductor
Ben Edquist, baritone
North Shore Senior High School Chorus
    Enrique Collazo, director

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 Robert for his “extremely musical and passionate approach towards music making,” and critics hail his “masterly pace, emphasis and technical control.”

This season, Robert celebrates his 10th year as Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony. A tireless ambassador for children’s musical education, he 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, he 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 educational 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 appearances 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 Orchestra 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 and the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra. 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 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.

Please visit

About Ben Edquist
American baritone Ben Edquist, a recent graduate of the distinguished Houston Grand Opera Studio, was named one of Opera Now’s 10 Young Opera Singers to Watch in 2016. With HGO, Ben originated the roles of Sir Walter Raleigh in Gregory Spears’ O Columbia and Edward Kynaston in Carlisle Floyd’s new opera Prince of Players.

In the summer of 2017, Ben returned to Wolf Trap Opera as a Filene Young Artist to perform the roles of William in The Fall of the House of Usher and the Father in The Juniper Tree. Following those performances, he returned to HGO to perform Marchese d’Obigny in La traviata and the leading role of Older Thompson in Cipullo’s Glory Denied.

Other highlights with HGO include Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, the leading role of The Pilot in The Little Prince, as well as Wagner in Faust, Jigger Craigin in Carousel, the Captain in Eugene Onegin, Sciarrone in Tosca and the baritone Angel in Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

Ben made his Glimmerglass Festival Opera debut in 2014 as Jigger Craigin in Carousel and returned to the Festival the following season to perform Papageno in a new production of Die Zauberflöte. Other recent performances include Sid in Albert Herring with Rice University, Charlie in Three Decembers and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with Vanderbilt Opera Theatre and Antonio in Il viaggo a Reims with Wolf Trap Opera.

He was named a top prize winner in the 2016 William Matheus Sullivan Competition, first place winner in the 2014 Lotte Lenya Competition and a finalist in both The Meistersinger Competition in Graz and HGO’s Eleanor McCollum Competition and the Concert of Arias.

A native of Lake Jackson, Texas, Ben Edquist received his Master of Music from Rice University and his Bachelor of Music from Vanderbilt University.

About the Houston Symphony
During the 2017-18 season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its fourth 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. 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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