The Houston Symphony and Music Director Juraj Valčuha are announcing today details of the 2022−2023 Season, which marks Valčuha’s inaugural season as music director. Hallmarks of Valčuha’s programming include embracing programmatic themes that unify his multi-week appearances, exploring operatic repertoire in concert alongside great choral works from the symphonic repertoire, continuing to spotlight Houston Symphony musicians as soloists, and welcoming the greatest guest artists in the world to Houston.
“My first season with the Symphony will show the path I will take as music director, with programs that combine the great masterpieces of the Classical and Romantic periods with new and rarely performed works of the fantastic twentieth century,” said Music Director and holder of the Roy and Lillie Cullen Chair Juraj Valčuha. “We will also devote some programs to choral works and an opera in concert. The wonderful Houston Symphony has tradition and a strong heritage, innovation, artistic energy, and creativity—all tools the orchestra and I have at our disposal to create great musical moments for the community. I cannot wait to get started!”
“The Houston Symphony has a long, storied history under the direction of great music directors,” said Executive Director/CEO and holder of the Margaret Alkek Williams Chair John Mangum. “To the names Leopold Stokowski, Sir John Barbirolli, André Previn, Christoph Eschenbach, Hans Graf, and Andrés Orozco-Estrada, we’re now proud to add Juraj Valčuha as we eagerly embark on the first season guided by his artistic vision.”
Highlights of the 2022−2023 Classical Season include Juraj Valčuha conducting Verdi’s Requiem, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth), Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin, and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Oedipus Rex. The season features return appearances by a plethora of the world’s greatest guest artists such as violinists Joshua Bell, Itzhak Perlman, Elina Vähälä, and Augustin Hadelich; pianists Yefim Bronfman, Stephen Hough, Lise de la Salle, and Jeffrey Kahane; vocalists Ana María Martnez, Sasha Cooke, and Michelle DeYoung; and conductors Jane Glover, Thomas Søndergård, Matthew Halls, and Jukka-Pekka Saraste, as well as guest artists making their Houston Symphony debuts: pianists Katia Buniatishvili, Lucas and Arthur Jussen, violinist Tai Murray, cellist Camille Thomas, shakuhachi soloist Kojiro Umezaki, and conductors Jonathon Heyward, Osmo Vänskä, and Gemma New.
The Houston Symphony Chorus is featured in five subscription programs, performing in Verdi’s Requiem, Holst’s The Planets, Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin, Mozart’s Requiem, and Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex. The Houston Symphony Chorus is also featured in the Bank of America POPS Series program Very Merry Pops, as well as special holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah.
THE 2022−2023 CLASSICAL SEASON
Opening Night Concert & Gala
Juraj Valčuha puts his stamp on his first season as Music Director by leading the massed forces of the Houston Symphony and Houston Symphony Chorus in Verdi’s dramatic, epic Requiem, September 16, 17, and 18, 2022 in Jones Hall. They’re joined by a stellar quartet of soloists: soprano Ana María Martínez, mezzo-soprano Marina Prudenskaya, tenor Jonathan Tetelman, and bass Dmitry Belosselsky, with musical highlights sweeping the audience along in the drama ranging from the pathos of the plaintive “Ingemisco” to the fiery fury of the choral “Dies Irae.” On Opening Night, September 16, the evening begins with a champagne reception followed by the Opening Night Concert at Jones Hall. Following the concert, the celebration continues at The Corinthian with dinner and sensational entertainment. The Opening Night Concert and Gala, chaired by Drs. Dennis and Susan Carlyle, are generously supported by ConocoPhillips, the lead concert sponsor and corporate gala underwriter for the 36th year.
Valčuha is back the following week for the second of nine concert weekends he conducts with the Houston Symphony this season. September 23, 24, and 25, 2022, the new Music Director leads the orchestra in Shostakovich’s famed grand musical response to Stalin-era oppression, the Symphony No. 5, as well as the world premiere of an as-yet untitled Houston Symphony commission by Nico Muhly. Violin superstar Joshua Bell joins the concert as soloist in Sibelius’ captivatingly melodic Violin Concerto, the composer’s only concerto.
One of the signatures of Juraj Valčuha’s music directorship is his devotion to thematic programming. In January 2023 he conducts two programs, each centered around a work whose premiere sparked a legendary scandal. January 13, 14, and 15, 2023 Valčuha conducts the orchestra in the suite from Bela Bartók’s 1926 ballet The Miraculous Mandarin, a work whose expressionist plot induced booing and catcalling from the Cologne audience at its premiere, and subsequently led the mayor of Cologne to ban the work on moral grounds. Nonetheless, Bartók considered it to be among his greatest works, marked by dynamic rhythms and dramatic, colorful orchestration. On this same program, Yefim Bronfman performs Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, according to some critics the most difficult piano piece ever written, and Valčuha leads the orchestra in rising young British composer Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers.
January 20, 21, and 22, 2023, Valčuha leads the Houston Symphony in the work that caused what is arguably the biggest scandal in classical music history: Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. The ballet’s 1913 Paris premiere by Diaghelev’s Ballets Russes caused a riot, and Giacomo Puccini deemed it “the work of a madman.” It’s now known as a seminal masterpiece of the 20th century, and Valčuha is pairing it with Revueltas’ Sensemayá, and a piano concerto yet to be announced featuring Georgian-French pianist Khatia Buniatishvili in her Houston Symphony debut.
Songs of the Earth
Songs of the Earth is the unifying theme of Valčuha’s February 2023 concerts. February 10, 11, and 12, 2023, Valčuha and the orchestra are joined by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and tenor Clay Hilley for Mahler’s “song symphony” Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth). The texts for Mahler’s six songs come from Hans Bethge’s collection of Chinese poetry, The Chinese Flute, and Mahler’s profound score delves deep into these songs’ themes of life, loss, and the ephemeral juxtaposed with the eternal beauty of nature. The venerated Mahler work is paired in this program with Itinerary of an Illusion, an orchestral work that uses Western musical idioms and instruments to express Chinese musical themes. The work was composed by Chinese-French composer Qigang Chen who received the French title Chevalier de l’Ordre des arts et des lettres, and whose work reached a huge international audience in 2008 when he served as music director of the Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremonies.
In concerts February 17, 18, and 19, 2023, is Debussy’s masterwork of impressionism La Mer, inspired by Japanese artist Hokusai’s famous wood block print The Great Wave. Also inspired by Hokusai’s wood block prints, Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa’s Autumn Wind seeks to unite man and nature through the ethereal sound of the shakuhachi, an ancient Japanese and Chinese end-blown flute made of bamboo. Toru Takemitsu’s Quotation of Dream is a post-Impressionist, dreamlike work with quotations from Debussy’s La Mer woven throughout, and Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite is a Western work whose music evinces Ravel’s fascination with Japanese art and calligraphy. Juraj Valčuha conducts all four works, with guest pianists Lucas and Arthur Jussen making their Houston Symphony debuts in the Takemitsu Quotation of Dream, and shakuhachi soloist Kojiro Umezaki in his Houston Symphony debut with Hosokawa’s Autumn Wind.
Harking back to the Houston Symphony’s past, Juraj Valčuha pays tribute to one of his most illustrious predecessors as Music Director, Sir John Barbirolli, by conducting a program that the great British conductor created and conducted February 14 and 15, 1966 during his Houston tenure. May 12, 13, and 14, 2023, Valčuha leads the orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s last completed symphony, the passionate Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique.” They’re joined by violin virtuoso Augustin Hadelich for Prokofiev’s technically daunting Violin Concerto No. 1, and Paul Creston’s Dance Overture completes the program.
Opera in Concert
Drawing from his experience as Music Director of Naples’ prestigious Teatro San Carlo since 2016, Juraj Valčuha has expressed a commitment to regularly performing opera in concert, closing his first full Houston Symphony season with Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, May 19, 20, and 21, 2023. Based on the tragedy by Sophocles, Oedipus Rex is considered a musical gem from Stravinsky’s neo-classical period, harking in style back to Mozart and Haydn while remaining rooted in the 20th century. With visuals by Adam Larsen (who made his Houston Symphony debut in 2019 performances of Bluebeard’s Castle), the cast stars mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung (last seen here as Judith in Bluebeard’s Castle) as Jocasta, and tenor Sean Panikkar making his Houston Symphony debut in the title role.
In the midst of his three-year tenure as Houston Symphony Artistic Partner, Itzhak Perlman is making three appearances in the 2022–2023 season, beginning with his performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with Juraj Valčuha conducting, October 20, 22, and 23, 2022. Valčuha leads the orchestra in Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s The Bamboula, Rhapsodic Dance for orchestra, as well as the suite from Richard Strauss’ lush, post-Romantic opera Der Rosenkavalier to round out the program.
Perlman returns in recital with his friend and artistic partner pianist Rohan De Silva on February 26, 2023, before coming back in April to conduct the orchestra, soloists to be announced, and the Houston Symphony Chorus in Mozart’s emotionally stirring choral masterpiece, the Requiem Mass, April 2 and 3, 2023.
Guest conductors and soloists in 2022−2023 include Jeffrey Kahane conducting Barber’s Symphony No. 1, Shawn Okpebholo’s Zoom, and Adolphus Hailstork’s Still Holding On, before leading Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F from the keyboard, September 30, October 1, and 2, 2022.
Dame Jane Glover returns to the Jones Hall stage October 28, 29, and 30, 2022 to lead an all-Mozart program, comprising his Symphony No. 35, “Haffner,” his incidental music written for the play Thamos, King of Egypt, and his Sinfonia concertante with Houston Symphony Concertmaster Yoonshin Song and Acting Principal Viola Joan DerHovsepian as soloists.
Rising young New Zealand-born conductor Gemma New makes her Houston Symphony debut alongside cellist Camille Thomas in a true benchmark of the cello repertoire, Elgar’s elegiac Cello Concerto. New also leads the orchestra in Russian-British composer Alissa Firsova’s Bride of the Wind, and they’re joined by the Women of the Houston Symphony Chorus for Gustav Holst’s vividly colorful symphonic suite, The Planets, November 11, 12, and 13, 2022.
French pianist Lise de la Salle returns to Houston to join with conductor Thomas Søndergård and the orchestra in Schumann’s Piano Concerto, and Søndergård also conducts Lili Boulanger’s Of a Spring Morning, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3, November 18, 19, and 20, 2022.
Conductor Osmo Vänskä and violinist Tai Murray make their Houston Symphony debuts together with the Slavic lyricism of Dvořák’s popular Violin Concerto, and Vänskä also conducts the orchestra in Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1, and Lotta Wennäkoski’s short orchestral work Flounce, March 3, 4, and 5, 2023.
Dvořák’s cheerful Symphony No. 8, imbued with the composer’s beloved Bohemian folk character, is on the program for young American conductor Jonathan Heyward, who also leads the orchestra in Carlos Simon’s Beethoven-inspired Fate Now Conquers, and joined by pianist Stephen Hough, Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1, March 10, 11, and 12, 2023.
Houston Symphony Concertmaster Yoonshin Song leads the orchestra in Haydn’s Symphony No. 101, “The Clock,” and doubles as soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1. To complete the program, Song is joined by Principal bassoon Rian Craypo, Acting Principal Viola Joan DerHovsepian, Principal Flute Aralee Dorough, Principal Oboe Jonathan Fischer, Principal Bass Robin Kesselman, Principal Clarinet Mark Nuccio, Principal Cello Brinton Averil Smith, and Principal Horn William VerMeulen for 19th century French composer Louise Farrenc’s Nonet, April 7 and 8, 2023.
Mahler’s powerful Symphony No. 1 is the occasion for Finnish conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste’s return to the Jones Hall stage. He’s joined by his countrywoman, violinist Elina Vähälä, for Finnish composer/conductor Jaako Kuusisto’s fiery Violin Concerto, April 20, 22, and 23, 2023.
2022−2023 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
Returning and Debuting Guest Conductors and Artists
The classical season includes return appearances by conductors Jeffrey Kahane, Jane Glover, Thomas Søndergård, Matthew Halls, and Jukka-Pekka Saraste; pianists Yefim Bronfman, Stephen Hough, Lise de la Salle, and Jeffrey Kahane; violinists Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Elina Vähälä and Augustin Hadelich; trumpet Chris Botti; soprano Ana María Martínez; mezzo-sopranos Sasha Cooke, and Michelle DeYoung; and vocalists Tony DeSare, Capathia Jenkins, N’Kenge, and Jeremy Jordan.
Making Houston Symphony debuts in the 2022−2023 season are conductors Jonathon Heyward, Osmo Vänskä, and Gemma New; violinist Tai Murray; cellist Camille Thomas; pianists Katia Buniatishvili, and Lucas and Arthur Jussen; tenors Jonathan Tetelman, Sean Panikkar, and Clay Hilley; and bass Dmitry Belosselskiy.
The Margaret Alkek Williams Sound + Vision Concert Experience
The “Margaret Alkek Williams Sound + Vision” programs provide an enhanced concert experience by featuring surtitles, lighting, video, dance, and/or use of in-hall screens, among other visual aesthetics. The programs are intended to bring more clarity and help tell the stories of music being performed.
The “Margaret Alkek Williams Sound + Vision” series is supported in part by The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts. Video enhancements for the Houston Symphony are made possible through a grant from the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation. These donors’ generous investment allows the Houston Symphony to present industry-leading multimedia projects, and enhances the concert visually to provide new experiences, insight, and enjoyment to audiences.
Houston Symphony Chorus
2022−2023 is a demanding season for the Houston Symphony Chorus with performances in six classical programs, three of which are led by Music Director Juraj Valčuha: Verdi’s Requiem, Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin, and Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex. The Chorus is also heard this season in performances of Mozart’s Requiem led by Itzhak Perlman, and Holst’s The Planets, as well as performances of Handel’s Messiah and Very Merry Pops, which have both become true Houston holiday traditions.
The classical season is endowed by The Wortham Foundation, Inc. in memory of Gus S. and Lyndall F. Wortham. Valčuha is the fifth music director to hold the Roy and Lillie Cullen Chair; a position endowed in perpetuity by The Cullen Foundation.
2022–2023 BANK OF AMERICA POPS SERIES OVERVIEW
Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke embarks on his sixth season as the leader of the Houston Symphony’s Bank of America POPS Series, featuring show-stopping Broadway vocalists, movies on the big screen, and music people know and love. “It’s a pure joy to collaborate with the extraordinary musicians of the Houston Symphony,” said Reineke, “and the Houston audience is so wonderfully invested in being a part of what we’re doing onstage. We’ve got a season full of great performances from returning favorites to new and thrilling experiences; this season is one I can’t wait to share with Houston!”
Under the direction of Reineke, the Houston Symphony opens the POPS Series with the gravity-defying Cirque de la Symphonie, September 9, 10, and 11, 2022 in Jones Hall. The program features the orchestra on stage performing some of the best known and loved works in the classical repertoire, while Cirque de la Symphonie’s world-class acrobats, aerial flyers, contortionists, jugglers, tumblers, and strongmen perform choreographed routines above and around the Symphony musicians onstage.
Powerhouse vocalist Capathia Jenkins returns for First Ladies of Soul, October 7, 8, and 9, 2002 in Jones Hall, featuring a cavalcade of hits by Diana Ross, Toni Braxton, Adele, Amy Winehouse and many more.
Thanksgiving weekend brings a very special symphony movie screening perfect for the whole family, November 25, 26, and 27, 2022 in Jones Hall. One of the greatest and most ambitious animated film projects of all time, Disney’s Fantasia features wildly imaginative animated sequences set to iconic scores such as Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6, and of course, Dukas’ The Sorceror’s Apprentice starring Mickey Mouse, all originally conducted for the 1940 original film by former Houston Symphony Music Director Leopold Stokowski. This screening also includes sequences from Fantasia 2000, including Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Respighi’s The Pines of Rome, and Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals, with the Houston Symphony performing all of these works live as the film plays on a giant screen above the orchestra.
Former Houston Symphony Principal POPS Conductor Michael Krajewski returns to the Jones Hall stage to lead the orchestra, the Houston Symphony Chorus, and special guest vocalist N’Kenge in Very Merry Pops featuring classic holiday tunes, December 15, 17, and 18, 2022 in Jones Hall.
Steven Reineke returns to the Jones Hall stage to lead the orchestra and special guest vocalist Michael Cavanaugh in The Music of Elton John and Billy Joel, January 6, 7, and 8, 2023. Reineke is back in February with Broadway and Television star Jeremy Jordan for The Best of Broadway with Jeremy Jordan, February 24, 25, and 26, 2023. In March, Reineke takes the Jones Hall podium for Let’s Misbehave: The Songs of Cole Porter featuring Houston POPS favorite Tony DeSare, March 17, 18, and 19, 2023; and in April, Reineke and the orchestra welcome back Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti, April 14, 15, and 16, 2023 in Jones Hall.
The Bank of America POPS season comes to a rousing close with Broadway Goes Hollywood, as guest conductor Lucas Waldin leads the orchestra and guest vocalists in great moments in Hollywood musical history, from Rodgers and Hammerstein to La La Land. And the Jones Hall audience will get in on the action by voting on some of the songs performed, May 5, 6, and 7, 2023.
2022−2023 PNC Family Season overview
On select Saturday mornings throughout each season, the Houston Symphony presents its PNC Family Series, a popular Saturday morning destination designed for families and children of all ages.
Family programs include free, interactive lobby activities, such as an Instrument Petting Zoo─which encourages children to try out orchestral instruments─theme-related music, and craft activities. These activities take place one-hour before the 10 a.m. concerts and one hour following the 11:30 a.m. concerts. Concertgoers are also encouraged to dress in costumes that match the concert’s theme. 2022–2023 programming and concert details to come soon.
2022−2023 SYMPHONY SPECIALS
A beloved Houston holiday tradition each season, the Houston Symphony, Houston Symphony Chorus, and guest soloists come together December 9−11, 2022 in a performance of Handel’s Messiah. Conductor Matthew Halls returns to conduct this timeless English-language oratorio about the life and death of Jesus Christ during the holiday season.
2022−2023 subscribers get first access to Symphony Specials like Itzhak Perlman’s recital and the Summer Series performances, as well as newly-announced performances throughout the season, including the Houston Symphony’s most in-demand concerts.
THE HOUSTON SYMPHONY IN THE COMMUNITY
Houston Symphony Season Partners
Support from the Houston Symphony’s corporate, foundation, and government partners allows the orchestra to reach new artistic heights in music, education and community engagement. The Houston Symphony 2022−2023 partners include Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods/Spec’s Charitable Foundation, PNC, Houston Methodist (Official Health Care Provider), United Airlines (Official Airline), and media partners ABC-13 (Official Television Partner) and Houston Public Media (Media Partner). Series support comes from Bank of America, Shell, Rand Group, and Frost Bank. The Houston Symphony is funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.
Livestream of Houston Symphony concerts is made possible by Barbara J. Burger.
Season tickets for the 2022–2023 Season, including the Classical Series and the Bank of America POPS Series, are on sale now. Classical Series packages start at $138, and Bank of America POPS Series at $162. Subscriber benefits include presale access to Symphony Specials and free ticket exchanges. Single tickets for fall and spring concert tickets will go on sale at a later date. For more information or to purchase, visit houstonsymphony.org or call the Houston Symphony Patron Services Center at 713-224-7575, Monday−Saturday, 12 noon−6 p.m. The PNC Family Series will be announced at a later date.
Having built a substantial livestream audience beginning in July 2020 comprising audiences in all 50 states and in 48 countries, the Houston Symphony strives to livestream all of its 2022–2023 classical subscription Saturday night performances, as well as most of its Saturday night Bank of America POPS performances. Livestream subscriptions are also now available at houstonsymphony.org.
About Juraj Valčuha
Conductor Juraj Valčuha is recognized for his effortless expressiveness and depth of musicianship. With sharp baton technique and natural stage presence, the impressive ease of his interpretations translates even the most complex scores into immersive experiences. His profound understanding of composer and score, taste, and naturally elegant style make him one of the most sought-after conductors of his generation.
Beginning in September 2022, Juraj Valčuha assumes the post of Houston Symphony Music Director. Since 2016 he has been Music Director of the Teatro di San Carlo, Naples and First Guest Conductor of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. He was Chief Conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI from 2009 to 2016.
The 2005–2006 season marked the start of his international career with exciting concerts on the podium of the Orchestre National de France followed by remarkable debuts in the U.K. with the Philharmonia London, in Germany with the Munich Philharmonic, and in the United States with the Pittsburgh Symphony. His Italian debut took place at Teatro Comunale in Bologna with a sensational production of La Bohème.
He has since led the Berlin Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, hr Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Vienna Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, BBC Symphony, Philharmonia London, Amsterdam Royal Concertgebouw, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Maggio Musicale in Florence, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Milan’s Filarmonica della Scala, Montréal Symphony, and NHK and Yomiuri orchestras in Tokyo. His active career in the U.S. has taken him to the orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Utah. He enjoys regular collaborations with orchestras in Houston, Minnesota, New York, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.
International touring with the Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI took them to the Musikverein in Vienna and the Philharmonie in Berlin, as well as Cologne, Düsseldorf, Zurich, Basel, and Munich, and to the Enesco Festival in Bucharest, and to Abu Dhabi Classics. He has also toured with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin to Riga, Vilnius, and Tallinn to mark the 100th anniversary of the Baltic nations.
Juraj Valčuha champions the compositions of living composers and aims to program contemporary pieces in most of his concerts. He has conducted world premieres including Christopher Rouses’s Supplica with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Steven Mackey’s violin concerto with Leila Josefowicz and the BBC Symphony in Manchester. In 2005 he conducted, in the presence of the composer, Steve Reich´s Four Sections at the Melos-Ethos Festival in Bratislava. Other composers he has supported and continues to follow with interest are Bryce Dessner, Andrew Norman, Luca Francesconi, James MacMillan, and Steven Stucky, among others.
On the opera stage, he has conducted Madama Butterfly, Elisir d‘amore, and Marriage of Figaro at the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich; Faust and The Love for Three Oranges in Florence; Jenufa, Peter Grimes, and Salome in Bologna; La Bohème in Venice; and Elektra, Carmen, Bluebeard’s Castle, Die Walküre, The Girl of the Golden West, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Katja Kabanova, and Pique Dame in Napoli.In January 2020, he conducted an opera production of Tristan and Isolde at Teatro Comunale in Bologna, at the end of which the complete lockdown was introduced in most European countries. However, he was privileged during the pandemic year to conduct many livestreamed performances with Teatro San Carlo (Tosca with Anna Netrebko and Cavalleria Rusticana with Elina Garanca and Jonas Kaufmann), RAI Orchestra in Turin, Orchestre National de France, Konzerthaus Berlin, and NDR Orchestra Hamburg. In the U.S. he was one of the few conductors to travel from Europe and make music with the Dallas, Houston, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh orchestras.
Juraj Valčuha was awarded the Premio Abbiati 2018 from Italian Music critics in the category Best Conductor.
Born in Bratislava, Slovakia, he studied composition and conducting in his birthplace, then at the Conservatory in St Petersburg (with Ilya Musin), and, finally, at the Conservatoire Supérieur de la Musique in Paris.
About the Houston Symphony
During the 2021–2022 Season, the Houston Symphony celebrated its final season under Andrés Orozco-Estrada after eight years as Music Director and continued 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 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, prior to COVID-19.
After suspending concert activities in March 2020 and cancelling the remainder of 2019–2020 events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Symphony resumed activities in May 2020, opening the 2020–2021 Season on schedule in September 2020 with small audiences of 150. The Houston Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement team continued to fulfill its mission through creative and virtual means throughout this period, resuming in-person student concerts in January 2022. 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. In the 2021–2022 Season, the Symphony was once again able to program concerts that featured a full complement of musicians onstage, with pre-pandemic-sized audiences in attendance.
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.