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Christmas tree with ornaments.

Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada Conducts Highlights From The Nutcracker To Ring In The Holidays

HOUSTON, TX (Nov. 4, 2021) — Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada leads the full orchestra in favorite highlights from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker to kick off the Houston Symphony’s 2021 Holiday concerts (December 3–5, 2021) followed by the return of two Symphony holiday traditions: Handel’s Messiah  (December 10–12, 2021) and Very Merry POPS (December 18–19, 2021). POPS favorite Pink Martini is back by popular demand to start the Symphony’s new year (January 7–9, 2022). All performances are in Jones Hall, festooned for the season with all manner of holiday decorations including a Christmas tree, and offering holiday-themed libations to warm the spirits.

Summoning the full complement of the Houston Symphony to bring Tchaikovsky’s magnificent music to life, Andrés Orozco-Estrada turns his internationally acclaimed interpretive gifts to the score of the iconic story ballet The Nutcracker, December 3–5. “The Waltz of the Snowflakes,” “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” and “The Waltz of the Flowers” are just a few of the highlights on this concert program, which also includes Samuel Barber’s Romantic one-and-only violin concerto featuring violin star Gil Shaham, and 19th-Century Italian double bass virtuoso Giovanni Bottesini’s Gran duo concertante for Violin, Contrabass, and Orchestra, again featuring Shaham alongside Houston Symphony Principal Bass Robin Kesselman. The December 4 performance is also available via livestream.

December 4 at 10 and 11:30 a.m., Andrés Orozco-Estrada leads the first concert in the 2021–22 PNC Family Series Season, Musical Treats from The Nutcracker─for Kids! featuring some of the best loved melodies from Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, with a live narrator to relate the fantastic story for young audiences. The 11:30 a.m. performance is also available via livestream. Both performances also include an appearance by Santa Claus and a mailbox for letters to Santa in the Jones Hall lobby. To get everyone in the holiday spirit, kids are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite holiday character. All audience seating for Musical Treats from The Nutcracker─for Kids! is socially distanced, with masks required for everyone age 4 and older.

One of the world’s leading conductors of baroque repertoire, Bernard Labadie, returns to the Jones Hall Stage to preside over the return of a Symphony holiday classic: complete performances of Handel’s inspiring oratorio Messiah, December 10–12. Highlights include the beloved arias “Ev’ry Valley,” “O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion,” “The Trumpet Shall Sound,” and of course, the celebrated choruses including “Hallelujah.” Joining Labadie and the orchestra are soloists Magali Simard-Galdès, soprano; Lawrence Zazzo, countertenor; Andrew Haji, tenor; and Daniel Okulitch, bass-baritone, along with the much-anticipated return of the Houston Symphony Chorus. The December 11 performance is also available via livestream.

The Chorus takes the stage again the following weekend as the Symphony welcomes back former Principal POPS Conductor Michael Krajewski to Jones Hall. Krajewski leads the cherished family tradition Very Merry POPS on December 18 and 19 as part of the Bank of America POPS Series. Returning vocalist Rodney Ingram also joins the Houston Symphony in this concert, along with boy soprano Peter Theurer in his Houston Symphony debut, with beloved holiday tunes like “Deck the Halls,” “White Christmas,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,” “The Christmas Song,” “O Holy Night” and many more. The December 18 evening performance is also available via livestream.

Pink Martini, the internationally-celebrated “little orchestra” that blurs the boundaries between classical, Latin, jazz and classic pop music, provides a rousing finale to the Symphony’s holiday season. They return as part of the Bank of America POPS series to start 2022 in style, led by Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke, with lead vocalist China Forbes, January 7–9. The January 8 performance is also available via livestream.

For tickets and more information please call 713-224-7575 or visit Livestream performances are available via a private link to ticket holders for $20. Everyone in the audience is required to wear a mask while in Jones Hall. For a comprehensive schedule of safety measures, visit Socially distanced seats are available in some portions of the auditorium. All programs and artists are subject to change.

The Houston Symphony’s holiday concerts are generously supported in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts.

The classical series is endowed by the Wortham Foundation, Inc., in memory of Gus S. and Lyndall F. Wortham. Livestreaming of Houston Symphony concerts is made possible by Barbara J. Burger.


Friday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m.*

Sunday, Dec. 5, at 2:30 p.m.

Andrés Orozco-Estrada, conductor

Gil Shaham, violín

Robin Kesselman, double bass

Baber: Violin Concerto

Bottesini: Gran duo concertante for Violin, Contrabass, and Orchestra

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcrracker



Saturday, Dec. 4, at 10 a.m.

Saturday, Dec. 4, at 11:30 a.m.*

Andrés Orozco-Estrada, conductor



Friday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m.*

Sunday, Dec. 12, at 2:30 p.m.

Bernard Labadie, conductor

Magali Simard-Galdès, soprano

Lawrence Zazza, countertenor

Andrew Haji, tenor

Daniel Okulitch, bass-baritone

Houston Symphony Chorus; Betsy Cook Weber, director; Matthew Hazzard, chorus preparation

Händel: Messiah



Saturday, Dec. 18, at 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 18, at 8 p.m. *

Sunday, Dec. 19, at 2:30 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 19, at 7:30 p.m.

Michael Krajewski, conductor

Rodney Ingram, vocalist

Peter Theurer, boy soprano

Houston Symphony Chorus; Betsy Cook Weber, director; Matthew Hazzard, chorus preparation



Friday, Jan. 7, at 8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 8, at 8 p.m.*

Sunday, Jan. 9, at 2:30 p.m.

Steven Reineke, conductor

Pink Martini featuring China Forbes, vocalist

*Livestreamed at 8 p.m. CT

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.

Eric Skelly: 713.337.8560,


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