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Houston Symphony's Spec's Charitable Foundation Salute to Educator's Concert Set for 4/24

Houston Symphony's Spec's Charitable Foundation Salute to Educator's Concert Set for 4/24

On Thursday, April 24, the Houston Symphony will perform their annual Spec's Charitable Foundation Salute to Educator's Concert at Jones Hall. The concert celebrates local educators - music and classroom teachers alike - while spotlighting young musicians. Led by Houston Symphony Associate Conductor Robert Franz, the orchestra will open the evening's festivities with Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra, featuring 18-year-old Charles Seo, Houston native and Gold Medal winner of the 2013 Houston Symphony League Concerto Competition. Following intermission, the orchestra will be joined by the Houston Youth Symphony in a special side-by-side performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor.

This concert is free to teachers or school administrators and their guests. For tickets, please contact the Patron Services Center at 713-224-7575.

Each year, two Houston-area educators are honored for their excellence in teaching and commitment to their communities. This year, the Spec's Charitable Foundation Award for Excellence in Music Education will be presented to Matthew Porter, Director of Orchestras at Obra D. Tompkins High School, Katy ISD's newest high school. Celebrating his 10th year in music education, Porter achieved early success with his students while at Beckendorff Junior High School, leading them to nine consecutive UIL Sweepstakes Awards and two wins at the National Orchestra Honors Project.

The Jacob L. and Sophia Meyer Farb School Bell Award for Lifetime Achievement will be presented to Carole Nelson, Artistic Director of the Houston Boychoir, a group she has been involved with since 1992. Prior to her current role, Ms. Nelson spent 24 years as the choir director and voice teacher for Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

In his sixth season as Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony, Robert Franz leads the Symphony in a broad range of creative educational, family and community concerts. His concerts have reached over 72,000 audience members of all ages each year as he travels to various venues throughout the state of Texas.

When not in Houston, he is also the Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic, and in 2012, Franz began his tenure as Music Director of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Opera and Orchestra. Franz is also the newly appointed Music Director of the Windsor Symphony in Ontario. Recent and upcoming guest conducting highlights include his debut with the Baltimore Symphony, St. Louis Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra.

A recognized leader in the arts, the Idaho Education Committee invited him to address the Idaho Legislature on the importance of music in education. Franz has also authored his first children's book with a CD entitled, Stella's Magical Musical Tour of America. It introduces children to classical music by incorporating various musical excerpts intertwined throughout the story of a girl's journey in a hot air balloon.

In addition to his current posts, Franz served as the Music Director of the Mansfield Symphony in Ohio (2003-10), Resident Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic (2005-09) and Associate Conductor of the Louisville Orchestra (1997-06). For more about Robert Franz, contact Nick Day at nick.day@houstonsymphony.org or 713.337.8561.

Matthew Porter is the first Director of Orchestras for The Obra D. Tompkins High School in Katy, TX, which opening in the Spring of 2013. He began teaching in Katy ISD at Beck Junior High school and Memorial Parkway Junior High School shortly after graduating cum laude from Texas Tech University. The following school year Mr. Porter was asked to open the newly built Beckendorff Junior High School and inherited a program of about 60 string students grades 6-8. In his nine years at Beckendorff the orchestra program grew from 60 students to over 250 and is regarded as one of the premier orchestra programs in the state. Under Mr. Porter's direction every orchestra from Beckendorff earned the UIL Sweepstakes Award at Concert and Sight-reading Contest. The Beckendorff Orchestra was named a finalist in the Texas Honor Orchestra Finals for eight consecutive contests. In 2011 the Beckendorff Symphony was invited to perform at the 65th annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago & in 2012 the Symphony won the title of TMEA Texas Honor Orchestra (first in state) and performed at the annual convention in San Antonio, TX. The BDJH Orchestra program has been named a "National Winner" twice in the National Orchestra Honors Project (highest award) listed among the top middle school orchestras in the nation

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