Houston Symphony to Perform Concert of John Williams Music, 1/8/16

HOUSTON (December 17, 2015) - The Houston Symphony will celebrate a new year and begin the second half of the 2015-2016 season with a variety of concerts, guests and programs for people of all ages in January and February.

The first concert of the year, Star Wars and More: The Best of John Williams, will give a respectful nod to John Williams on January 8-10. Known for composing some of the most recognizable soundtracks in cinematic history, Williams' iconic music from the Star Warsand Harry Potter franchises, as well as Spielberg's Jurassic Park, Jaws and E.T., will be brought to life in a live orchestral performance.

The following weekend, on January 15, audiences can enjoy a free Houston Symphony concert at Houston Baptist University's Dunham Theater. Led by widely acclaimed young conductor Teddy Abrams, the orchestra will play favorite works by Copland and Tchaikovsky, as well as an original composition by Abrams, Fiddling, that will show off the technical ability of the Houston Symphony string players. The concert is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. To RSVP, click here.

Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada will return to the podium on January 22-24 to conduct Shostakovich Symphony No. 10, a program of 20th-century classics that will include Shostakovich's Festive Overture and Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, performed by Houston favorite Kirill Gerstein. The astonishing and moving score, which was inspired by Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein after losing his right arm during World Word I, creates the illusion of two hands playing while using only one. The program will end with Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10, a deeply personal and emotional work.­

NPR veteran Garrison Keillor will take the Jones Hall stage on January 27 for a one-night-only event featuring his trademark storytelling and candid, observational humor. Captivating audiences with his unique blend of humor, charisma and wisdom, the National Radio Hall of Fame inductee will present a fun and laughter-filled evening to remember. The orchestra will not appear on the program.

On January 30-31, Andrés will be joined by guest violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja forBrahms & Schumann, featuring Schumann's brooding Violin Concerto and Brahms' Symphony No. 2, which includes dreamy lullabies, a soulful Adagio and the biggest bring-down-the-house finale Brahms ever wrote. Also on the program is Samuel Barber's early masterpiece, Overture to The School for Scandal. An additional performance of the violin concerto will be given on January 28 at Rice University's Stude Concert Hall as part of the "Musically Speaking with Andrés" series.

The month of February kicks off with Singin' in the Rain - Film with Live Orchestra on February 5-7. The film, which was voted No. 1 "Greatest Movie Musical" by the American Film Institute, is an American classic made popular by Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds, with favorite songs "Make 'Em Laugh," "Good Morning" and the memorable title song.

On February 12-14, guest conductor John Storgårds will lead Sibelius' The Bard and Symphony No. 1 on Haydn & Sibelius concerts. Argentinian cellist Sol Gabetta will make her Houston Symphony debut with not one, but two cello concertos on the program: Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major and Saint-Saëns' Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor.

The Houston Symphony returns to Houston Baptist University for yet another performance in celebration of Lunar New Year on February 18. Directed by Mei-Ann Chen and joined by guest violinist Jessica Lee, the program will include a mix of Asian music - contemporary compositions and traditional folk tunes - and traditional orchestral repertoire.

The orchestra will remain at HBU's Morris Cultural Arts Center for A Black History Month Celebration on February 20. Reginald Smith Jr., who was recently featured as a guest soloist on the Symphony's Very Merry Pops program, will return alongside guest conductor Kirk Smith, conductor of the New Black Music Repertory Ensemble at Colombia College Chicago. Smith will lead a combined chorus of members from the CityWide Grassroots Chorus, Prairie View A&M, Texas Southern University and Houston Baptist University.

Jazz-lovers are in for a treat on February 26-28 with The Best of Benny Goodman when the Symphony salutes the King of Swing and the sounds of the Big Band era in this tribute concert. Led by clarinetist Dave Bennett, The Dave Bennett Sextet offers "powerfully fresh and vibrant" interpretations of Goodman's classics, including "Sing, Sing, Sing," "Let's Dance" and "These Foolish Things."

All concerts will take place at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana Street, in Houston's Theater District, unless otherwise noted. For tickets and information, please call (713) 224-7575 or visit www.houstonsymphony.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the Houston Symphony Patron Services Center in Jones Hall (Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). All programs and artists are subject to change.

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