Hans Graf Conducts Houston Symphony in Debussy's LA MER , Now thru 4/14

Hans Graf Conducts Houston Symphony in Debussy's LA MER , Now thru 4/14

Approaching his final month as Music Director of the Houston Symphony, Hans Graf will conduct a concert featuring several of Debussy and Mendelssohn's must popular works. Graf will welcome his long-time friends, violinist Benjamin Schmid and pianist Ariane Haering, to the Jones Hall stage for an evening of beautiful classical melodies tonight, April 11 and April 13 and 14.

Haering will open the concert with Mendelssohn's Capriccio brilliant. A husband and wife team, Schmid and Haering will perform together with the orchestra on Mendelssohn's Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Orchestra. After intermission, the orchestra will invite Schmid back on stage for Paganini's Violin Concerto, and the evening will conclude with Debussy's deeply beautiful piece, La Mer.

Written when Mendelssohn was only fourteen years old, his Concerto for Violin and Piano is a beautiful blend of serious themes and lyrical melodies. The musical flourishes by the soloists complement the orchestral phrases as Mendelssohn effortlessly weaves the two together throughout the piece. Continuing with another work by the child prodigy, the orchestra will showcase Haering as a soloist in Capriccio Brillant. One of Mendelsohhn's lesser known works, this single movement piece for piano and orchestra is a beautiful gem of classical music from the Romantic period.

The second half of the evening will begin with musical fireworks, as Schmid performs a modified version of the Paganini Violin Concerto, which was arranged by the great virtuoso violinist and composer, Fritz Kreisler. Closing the concert, the orchestra will perform Debussy's orchestral masterpiece, La Mer. Written in 1903, La Mer is a musical depiction of the sea expressed through the music's timbres and swells. Celebrated as a unique hybrid of a symphony and a tone poem, the piece is one of complex imagery, stunning beauty and has been a favorite of audiences for over a century.

Houston Symphony Classical Series plays at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana St., Houston, TX, on Thursday, April 11, 2013, 8:00pm, Saturday, April 13, 2013, 8:00pm and Sunday, April 14, 2013, 2:30pm. Tickets from: $29.

Debussy's La Mer
Hans Graf, conductor
Benjamin Schmid, violin
Ariane Haering, piano
Mendelssohn: Capriccio brillant
Paganini/arr. Kreisler: Violin Concerto
Mendelssohn: Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Orchestra
Debussy: La Mer

Known for his wide range of repertoire and creative programming, distinguished Austrian conductor Hans Graf is the Houston Symphony's 15th Music Director and will stand as its longest serving music director when his tenure closes in May 2013. As one of today's most highly respected musicians, he is a frequent guest with all of the major North American orchestras, and regularly conducts in the foremost concert halls of Europe, Japan and Australia.

Graf has appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, as well as with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic. He was awarded the Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria in 2007 and France's Chevalier de l'ordre de la Legion d'Honneur in 2002. Maestro Graf and his wife, Margarita, have homes in Salzburg and Houston.

One of the most versatile of today's violinists, Benjamin Schmid's particular strengths lie in his exceptionally wide repertoire and very personal style. Described as "one of the most valuable of today's golden-age-violinists" (The New York Sun), his work has also been acclaimed as "a violin classic" (The Strad). An accomplished jazz violinist, Schmid has also worked with Stéphane Grappelli.

At the very core of Schmid's career are his interpretations of works by Austrian composers such as Berg, Goldmark, Korngold, Kreisler, Mozart, Muthspiel, Schönberg and Webern. Each year, Schmid also allocates a proportion of his time to playing chamber music with, among others, Sabine Meyer and Clemens Hagen. With pianist Ariane Haering, he concentrates on works by Mozart, which they have also recorded together. A passionate recording artist, Schmid has built up an impressive discography consisting of more than 25 CDs.

Performances with leading ensembles include the Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw and the Czech Philharmonic orchestras, as well the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Wiener Philharmoniker, National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, Gulbenkian Orchestra, Orchestra of the Royal Danish Opera, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Other engagements have seen Schmid work with Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie in Bremen, Camerata in Salzburg, Zürcher Kammerorchester, New Japan Philharmonic and Houston and Baltimore Symphonies.

Born in Vienna, Schmid studied at conservatories in Salzburg and Vienna and at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. He won many international awards, amongst them the Carl Flesch Competition, where he won the Mozart, Beethoven and Audience prizes.

Ariane Haering was born in Le Locle, Switzerland in 1976. She had her first piano lessons with Cécile Pantillon at the age of 6 and continued her musical education with Catherine Courvoisier at the Conservatoire of La Chaux-de-Fonds, from which she graduated "With Distinction" in 1992. She completed her studies with one year at the North Carolina School of the Arts with Clifton Matthews and three with Brigitte Meyer at the Conservatoire of Lausanne, at the end of which she received the "Premier Prix de Virtuosité avec les Félicitations du Jury."

Haering won first prizes at the Swiss Youth Music Competitions, the Jecklin Musiktreff and the Concerto Competition of the University of North Carolina. She has been awarded a number of further distinctions by the Lyceum Club de La Chaux-de-Fonds, "L'Express," the Lions Club and the Prix Miéville. She was also selected to represent Switzerland at the Eurovision Competition Finals in Brussels and named Jeune Soliste at the CRPLF (Communauté des Radios Publiques de Langue Francaise).

Haering has appeared as a soloist with renowned orchestras such as the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Orchestre de Chambre de Neuchâtel, Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich, Zürich Chamber Orchestra, Kammerorchester Serenata Basel, Stadtorchester St.Gallen, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Orchestre Symphonique de Bienne, Sinfonietta Lausanne, Camerata Schweiz, Salzburger Kammerphilharmonie, National Symphony Orchestra of Malaysia, Kammerorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and the NCSA Symphony Orchestra.

Haering is also an active chamber musician, performing a wide range of repertoire with, among others, Dimitri Ashkenazy, Ramon Jaffé, Benjamin Schmid, the St.Petersburg String Quartet and the Brodsky Quartet.

During the 2013-14 Season, the Houston Symphony will be in its 100th year as one of America's leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. The Houston Symphony is one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas whose inaugural performance was held at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston on June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $28.7 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 professional musicians is the largest performing arts organization in Houston, presenting more than 280 concerts for 280,000 people, including 84,000 children, annually. For tickets and more information, visit www.houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.