Houston Symphony to Bring Music to Crespo Elementary Students This Year

Houston Symphony Executive Director/CEO Mark C. Hanson, BBVA Compass Chairman and CEO Manolo Sánchez, and Houston Independent School District Chief Academic Officer Andrew Houlihan announced today a joint partnership that will integrate the Houston Symphony and orchestral music into the lives of students in grades 3-5 at Crespo Elementary School in Southeast Houston.

The Houston Symphony School Residency at Crespo Elementary presented by BBVA Compass, in its pilot phase during the 2015-16 school year, will be structured around lessons, instrument demonstrations and performances. Two of the four newly appointed Community Embedded Musicians will lead the classroom interactions in this three year-initiative designed to enrich the lives of every third-, fourth- and fifth-grade student at Crespo. The program is inspired by a time-tested and respected initiative pioneered by the New York Philharmonic and is the first of its kind in Houston.

"We are ecstatic to be collaborating with HISD and longtime supporter of the Symphony and the arts, BBVA Compass, to launch such an innovative program to inspire children through music," said Mark C. Hanson, Houston Symphony Executive Director/CEO. "The program brings the impact of orchestral music off of the stage and into the classroom in a more in-depth and comprehensive way than ever before in Houston."

An arts magnet school, Crespo Elementary boasts a school-wide fine arts program where every child from third grade to fifth grade has the opportunity to specialize in either art, band, dance, drama or technology. All students, regardless of their fine arts specialty, will interact with the Houston Symphony Community Embedded Musicians bi-weekly during the school year through recorder instruction and composition projects, instrument demonstrations, interactive chamber concerts and more. All lessons will take place in school and during school hours. The program will also bring students and their families outside of the school and into full concert experiences as part of the Houston Symphony's student concert series at Jones Hall.

"What makes this program unique and relevant is not just the fact that these young minds will get to learn how to compose or perform music from talented orchestral musicians, but the fact that it will help their parents and teachers alike better understand why music is an essential element of the classroom and why it is critical to students' achievement outcomes," said HISD Chief Academic Officer Andrew Houlihan.

The pilot, which is designed to use music training to help support the students' overall academic achievement, is made possible by the generosity of BBVA Compass, a longstanding Houston Symphony partner. It aligns with the bank's efforts to invest in initiatives that provide access to the arts to those in underserved areas.

"This partnership is close to our hearts because it supports our efforts to bring the arts to everyone in our communities, and it's especially rewarding to bring the magic of music to students of this age," said BBVA Compass Chairman and CEO Manolo Sánchez, who also serves as a governing director on the Houston Symphony's board of trustees. "We are honored to be part of this innovative effort, where the public, private and nonprofit sectors come together to enrich young lives."

The partnership, in alignment with the Houston Symphony's recently launched 10-year strategic plan, seeks to extend the Symphony's reach in the community, while also enhancing HISD's efforts to expand fine arts education at Crespo Elementary.

Double bassist David Connor joins the Houston Symphony as a Community-Embedded Musician after two seasons with the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, FL. Connor earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University and his Masters of Music at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. While at Rice, he was a fellow of the Da Camera of Houston Young Artist Program for two seasons, which led to many community outreach opportunities and chamber music collaborations in the greater Houston area. Connor has participated in summer festivals including Music Academy of the West, Aspen, Sarasota, Domaine Forget, and the Britten Pears Young Artist Program. He has been a recipient of the Aspen Academy Orchestra Fellowship and was chosen in 2011 to be a member of the New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Jaime Laredo. As a member of the New World Symphony, he has had the opportunity to teach double bass both at home and abroad, traveling to Medellín, Colombia and Geneva, Switzerland in 2014.

Violist Anthony Parce, also a former member of the New World Symphony, has distinguished himself as a violist intent on confirming the vivacity of classical music in the 21st century. During his four-year fellowship at the New World Symphony, Parce organized and produced three interactive concert formats, lectured and performed on the early works and life of Arnold Schoenberg, produced a commemoration of Kristallnacht with narration by local Holocaust survivors, travelled many times to Medellín, Colombia, to teach through the SaludArte Foundation, helped develop the Symphony's virtual library (Musaic), and took an active civic role in refining the curriculum and activities of New World Fellows. Parce has attended the Verbier, Schleswig-Holstein, Tanglewood, Artosphere, and Britten-Piers summer festivals, as well as the National Orchestral Institute, Domaine Forget and the Music Academy of the West. He holds degrees from the New England Conservatory and Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, studying with James Dunham, Roger Tapping and Karen Ritscher.

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