Houston Symphony Wraps Record 2012-13 Season
With its Centennial season well underway, the Houston Symphony shared record-shattering statistics from the first few months of activity for the historic 2013-14 season along with notable financial results achieved during the previous fiscal year that ended May 31.
"A real coming-to-life of our mission statement is embedded within these unprecendented numbers," said Mark C. Hanson, executive director and CEO. "Interest in our centennial celebration and our strong financial performance are making it possible for us to inspire and enrich more and more of Houston's growing and diverse population."
The 2012-13 Annual Fund campaign was the most successful in the Symphony's 100-year history with more than $10 million contributed from almost 5,000 donors to support the orchestra's performances, education programs and community engagement initiatives. In total, the Symphony raised $14.3 million in operating support during the 2012-13 season, inclusive of the Annual Fund, event contributions and special project support. Overall, the Symphony achieved a balanced budget for the third consecutive year, the third in an ambitious five-year financial plan adopted in April 2010 to strengthen its financial position while expanding its community impact.
The Symphony also announced a significant $2 million, multi-year gift from Board member Ms. Marie Taylor Bosarge. In announcing the gift, Hanson said, "The leadership that Ms. Bosarge has shown with her commitment is incredibly inspiring. Through her extraordinary support, she is helping the Symphony by investing in our core programing in the concert hall and allowing the orchestra to deepen our reach and relevance through an expansion in education and community programs, especially in this historic Centennial Season."
The Centennial Season officially began on June 21 with a free concert celebrating the exact 100th birthday of the orchestra and attracting 17,000 to Miller Outdoor Theatre. Houston Symphony media partners KTRK Channel 13 and Classical 91.7 KUHA FM reached another 250,000 people through live television and radio broadcasts of the program. KTRK also produced a special 30-minute documentary about the Symphony's history, collecting footage and interviews over the course of nine months and from around the world. The show aired twice before the birthday performance, with one immediately before the live broadcast, generating incredible ratings for KTRK and the Symphony - more than 1,000,000 impressions in the Houston media market.
The Houston Symphony has been performing summer concerts in Hermann Park at Miller Outdoor Theatre since 1940, and with the Centennial edition of the series entitled Summer Symphony Nights Presented by ExxonMobil with leadership support from the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, the Symphony attracted a record 50% more people than in a typical year. By including the blockbuster birthday performance and concluding with the annual July 4 Star Spangled Salute, the Symphony created additional awareness and boosted attendance. In fact, the June 22 concert featuring Mozart and Scheherazade drew the biggest single audience ever, more than 8,000 people, for a standard Houston Symphony free concert in the park.
The momentum continued with the first ever Day of Music at Jones Hall on July 13. The Symphony produced the free, day-long festival as a special event for the city during the Centennial Season and to celebrate Houston's musical diversity. The Symphony joined forces with local groups Music Doing Good, Houston Blues Museum, Sugarhill Studios and Guitar Houston. The Houston Chronicle stepped-in with valuable exposure in targeted areas with a dedicated insert in the newspaper, reaching more than 60,000 households. Five stages featured almost 30 community music groups performing everything from jazz to gospel and Japanese drumming. In between performances, patrons could enjoy food truck fare on Jones Plaza and flex their own musical muscles at harmonica clinics and the Symphony's Instrument Petting Zoo. All told, Day of Music attracted 10,000 music fans, likely the most people to visit Jones Hall in one day.
Single ticket sales for the innovative concert series in July, Summer in the City, reached a record $563,000. Every year, the Symphony designs programming for the orchestra to appeal to audiences outside of the traditional classical concert setting. This season's Video Games Live, Music of The Rolling Stones, Music of Pixar and Frankie Valli delighted fans and displayed the wide-ranging applications of orchestral music.
Opening Night on September 7, generously supported by ConocoPhillips, broke multiple records. An audience of 2,000 people fillEd Jones Hall to hear Renée Fleming with the Houston Symphony. The resulting $207,000 in single ticket sales represented a 90% increase over 2012 Opening Night ticket revenue and a new record, eclipsing the 2011 record when the Symphony hosted two Opening Nights of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. More than 530 guests attended the vibrant post-concert Opening Night Gala chaired by Carolyn and Mike Mann and their son and daughter-in-law, Kathy and Paul Mann. The pair of couples represented two generations of Symphony supporters, a theme that will be repeated at all of the Symphony's major fundraisers during the Centennial. More than $620,000 was raised from gala attendees for Houston Symphony education and community engagement programs, which was 50% more than last year's record-breaking opening night gala. Projections for the Centennial Ball, which is scheduled to be the dramatic season-ending party on May 17, 2014, are strong with early sales already accounting for more than $600,000 in event revenue.
Principal Pops Conductor Michael Krajewski and the orchestra started the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pops at Jones Hall series, presented by BBVA Compass, with a bang and another record single ticket revenue number. Fan favorite Cirque de la Symphonie came to town and resulted in $130,000 in single ticket sales - blowing away the previous record of $91,000 when the Midtown Men opened the 2012 pops season. As another enrichment for Houstonians with young families and compromised nighttime schedules, the Symphony replaced its Sunday evening performance with a Sunday afternoon matinee of the Cirque concert to resounding success.
The Houston Symphony received a double dose of exciting publicity in early 2013 with the announcement of Andrés Orozco-Estrada as its next music director followed closely by the launch of the Centennial Season concert schedule. The Symphony had strategically invested in an awareness and rebranding campaign to begin with the season announcement, a new look for the new century. With a fresh new logo, retooled digital platform, outdoor and TV advertising along with big-scale free events for the public, the Symphony is realizing unprecedented audience growth. Box office data reflects a huge surge in new subscription sales that are tracking 70% ahead of last year. Overall, the Symphony is forecasting that 2013-14 subscription revenue will grow more than 9% over 2012-13 subscription results.
During the 2013-14 Season, the Houston Symphony celebrates 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 $30.4 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, please visit www.houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.