HOUSTON, TX (Oct. 27, 2021) — Star pianist Hélène Grimaud and violin virtuoso Simone Lamsma headline the Houston Symphony’s classical concerts in November, with guest conductors Matthias Pintscher and Fabien Gabel taking the Jones Hall podium for an exciting mix of such beloved repertory favorites as the Suite from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, alongside several newer works, including the Houston Symphony premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Graffiti, performed with film accompaniment by Houston-based filmmaker Alex Luster. Hélène Grimaud Plays Ravel takes the Jones Hall stage November 19, 20, and 21, followed by Thanksgiving Weekend: Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, November 26, 27, and 28. The Saturday night performances on November 20 and 27 are livestreamed.
In the program Hélène Grimaud Plays Ravel, part of the Rand Group Great Performers series, Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G marks the great French pianist’s return to Jones Hall. Guest conductor Matthias Pintscher makes his Houston Symphony debut leading the orchestra for this concert November 19–21, which also includes Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole, the composer’s picturesque first major orchestral work, invoking the Spain of Ravel’s heritage (he was born in a small Basque town just eleven miles from France’s border with Spain). Continuing the Franco-Spanish theme, the program also features Debussy’s “Iberia” from Images, a vivid portrait of the Spanish peninsula with Debussy’s Gallic grace tempering the region’s Spanish flame. Completing this program is South Korean composer Unsuk Chin’s Graffiti (2021), the performance accompanied and enhanced by a new film focused on Houston’s street art by Houston-based filmmaker Alex Luster.
One week later, November 26–28, guest conductor Fabien Gabel and the orchestra celebrate the holiday with works with fairy tale themes in Thanksgiving Weekend: Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, part of the Shell Favorite Masters series, featuring the celebrated Suite from Tchaikovsky’s beloved fairy tale story ballet. Celebrated violinist Simone Lamsma returns to the Houston Symphony (having had two Houston Symphony engagements canceled by the pandemic) to join Gabel and the orchestra for one of the most popular concerti in the violin repertoire, renowned for its lyrical melodies that employ the full range of the instrument: Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Also on the program are the Houston Symphony premiere of Canadian composer/conductor Samy Moussa’s Nocturne (2015), and the Overture and Introductions to Acts II and III from Engelbert Humperdinck’s Königskinder (The King’s Children). Best known for his Romantic operatic treatment of Hänsel and Gretel, Humperdinck enjoyed success with this operatic treatment of the supernatural melodrama Königskinder, which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 1910.
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 houstonsymphony.org/safety. For tickets and more information, please call 713.224.7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. Socially distanced seats are available in some portions of the auditorium. All programs and artists are subject to change.
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.
HÉLÈNE GRIMAUD PLAYS RAVEL
Friday, Nov. 19, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 20, at 8 p.m.*
Sunday, Nov. 21, at 2:30 p.m.
Matthias Pintscher, conductor
Hélène Grimaud, piano
DEBUSSY: “Iberia” from Images
RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G
UNSUK CHIN: Graffiti
RAVEL: Rapsodie espagnole
THANKSGIVING WEEKEND: TCHAIKOVSKY’S SLEEPING BEAUTY
Friday, Nov. 26, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 27, at 8 p.m.*
Sunday, Nov. 28, at 2:30 p.m.
Fabien Gabel, conductor
Simone Lamsma, violin
SAMY MOUSSA: Nocturne
BRUCH: Violin Concerto No. 1
HUMPERDINCK: Königskinder: Overture and Introduction to Acts II and III
TCHAIKOVSKY: Suite from The Sleeping Beauty
*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, email@example.com