Press Room

The Houston Symphony Performs Mahler’s “Songs of a Wayfarer” featuring Mezzo-Soprano Sasha Cooke in February

HOUSTON, TX (Jan. 25, 2021) — The Houston Symphony announces the addition of the Classical Series program Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, Feb. 19 & 20, at 8 p.m., featuring internationally-acclaimed, Houston-based mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke in Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer). Also on the program is the string orchestra arrangement of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet. This concert is available for both in-person and livestream audiences with tickets now available at

Returning guest conductor David Robertson opens the program with contemporary composer Jessie Montgomery’s one-movement work titled Starburst, which combines exploding dynamics and gentle melodies to create a multidimensional musical landscape. Then, Cooke, two-time Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano, lends her luminous voice to a chamber music version of Mahler’s extraordinarily intense lyrical masterpiece Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer). To close out the evening, Robertson leads the string section in Mahler’s arrangement of Schubert’s deeply melancholic Death and the Maiden Quartet (for String Orchestra)—often referred to as one of Schubert’s greatest string quartets. Schubert’s expressive work connects to human emotions with both powerful and soft melodies. This performance is livestreamed on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 8 p.m. CST.

Much sought after in the world’s opera houses and concert halls, Cooke, born in Riverside, California, grew up in College Station, Texas, graduated from Rice University and the Juilliard School, and currently resides in the greater Houston area. A Houston Symphony favorite guest artist, she most recently performed Mahler’s Das klagende Lied and Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht with the orchestra under the baton of Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada in October 2019. Her young career has already seen her premiere works by such composers as Mark Adamo, William Bolcom, Jake Heggie, Nico Muhly, and Kevin Puts, among many others. Her recordings can be found on the Hyperion, BIS, Chandos, Naxos, Bridge Records, Yarlung, GPR Records and Sono Luminus labels, and include Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Minnesota Orchestra, Berlioz’ L’enfance du Christ with the Melbourne Symphony under Andrew David, and Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (winner of the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording).

A renowned conductor in the worlds of opera, orchestral music, and new music, Robertson is a champion of contemporary composers, and most recently, he completed a 13-year tenure as Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He frequently appears with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, the Bayerische Rundfunk and the Dresden Staatskapelle, and at the Berlin Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, the BBC Proms, and the Musica Viva Festival in Munich, as well as The Metropolitan Opera. Robertson is also a devoted educator and has worked to train the next generation of young conductors at the Julliard School, Music Academy of the West, as well at music festivals in Tanglewood, and Aspen. During the 2019–20 Season, Roberson was scheduled to lead the Houston Symphony and a stellar cast of solo vocalists in John Adams’ El Niño before all performances were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In-person and livestream tickets are now available for these performances at Each livestream performance is available via a private link to ticket holders for $20, and livestream subscribers who purchase a package of tickets receive an additional 25% discount. For patrons attending in person, concerts will continue to have a one-hour run time with no intermission, and food and beverage service will be suspended to eliminate crowding. For a comprehensive list of safety measures, visit For tickets and information, please call 713.224.7575 or visit All programs and artists are subject to change.

Schubert’s Death and the Maiden is part of the Rand Group Great Performers Series. The Classical Series, sponsored by the Robert Cizik Family, is endowed by the Wortham Foundation, Inc., in memory of Gus S. and Lyndall F. Wortham. Livestream of Houston Symphony concerts is made possible by Barbara J. Burger.

Friday, February 19, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 20, at 8 p.m. *
David Robertson, conductor
Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
Jessie Montgomery: Starburst
Mahler/K. Kloke: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer)
Schubert/Mahler: Death and the Maiden Quartet (for String Orchestra)

*Livestreamed at 8 p.m. CST

About the Houston Symphony
During the 2020–21 Season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its seventh 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 on Houston June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $25.8 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 two Community-Embedded Musicians offer over 1,000 community-based performances each year at various schools, community centers, hospitals, and churches reaching more than 200,000 people in Greater Houston annually.

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,
Mireya Reyna: 713.337.8557,


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