Maestro Hans Graf Bids Farewell to Houston Symphony, Beg. Tonight

Maestro Hans Graf Bids Farewell to Houston Symphony, Beg. Tonight

Maestro Hans Graf will conduct the Houston Symphony in his final concerts as Music Director tonight, May 17 and the 18th. Ending his 12-year tenure, Graf will celebrate with the orchestra, staff and patrons in a grand performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 2, Resurrection. Joining the orchestra will be guest soloists Erin Wall, Bernarda Fink and the Houston Symphony Chorus under the direction of Charles Hausmann. The evening is sure to be one of bittersweet goodbyes and beautiful melodies for all who attend. Graf will return to conduct two concerts during the Symphony's 2013-14 Centennial Season as Conductor Laureate.

"Of all of Mahler's symphonies, Resurrection has the most uplifting ending," stated Music Director Hans Graf. "There is a spiritual element in it that is hard to beat. Mahler's idea to have the chorus emerge from the depths is spellbinding, like souls waiting to arise from the abyss to the heavens, following an irresistible crescendo to their apotheosis - a glorious and positive way to finish."

Mahler often used the composition of his symphonies to explore deep philosophical questions of his generation. In particular, Mahler's 2nd Symphony, also known as Resurrection, explores the themes of death, afterlife and resurrection. Featuring five movements, the piece develops from a somber sonata to a frantic scherzo into a two-part finale. With its rich melodies and augmented instrumentation, Mahler's 2nd Symphony is one of his most popular and successful pieces, as well as a favorite of classical music enthusiasts.

The Houston Symphony special concert "A Graf Farewell" will play Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana St., Houston, TX, on Friday, May 17, 2013, 7:30pm and Saturday, May 18, 2013, 7:30pm, featuring: Hans Graf, conductor; Erin Wall, soprano; Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano; Houston Symphony Chorus; and Charles Hausmann, director. Tickets from $29.

Known for his wide range of repertoire and creative programming, distinguished Austrian conductor Hans Graf is the Houston Symphony's 15th Music Director and is its longest serving music director. 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.

Soprano Erin Wall is one of today's most versatile sopranos with an extensive opera and concert repertoire that spans three centuries. She has sung leading roles in many of the world's great opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Vienna Staatsoper, Opéra National de Paris and Lyric Opera of Chicago, in addition to appearing in concert with leading symphony orchestras worldwide.

This season, Wall will sing Mahler's 8th Symphony with the Hessischer Rundfunk and Nashville Symphony, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with the Chicago Symphony and National Symphony, Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the Toronto Symphony and at the Tanglewood Festival, Le Nozze di Figaro with Arizona Opera and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at the Bayerische Staatsoper. She will sing Mahler's 2nd Symphony with the Houston Symphony, Poulenc's Stabat Mater with the San Francisco Symphony and Britten's War Requiem at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago.

Recent career highlights include a highly acclaimed debut as Clémence in L'amour de loin with the Canadian Opera Company, the title role in Thaïs at the Edinburgh Festival and the title role in Arabella at Santa Fe Opera.

Next season includes returns to the Metropolitan Opera, Vancouver Opera, Edinburgh Festival, NHK Philharmonic and Toronto Symphony, as well as debuts with the BBC Proms and Vienna Philharmonic.

Wall was born and raised in Canada, and lives in Toronto with her husband, son and daughter.

Bernarda Fink, daughter of Slovenian parents, was born in Buenos Aires and received her vocal and musical education at the Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón. Fink is one of the most sought-after singers both in concert and in recital. She has been acclaimed for her musical versatility and invited to perform with leading orchestras and conductors in Europe and America. Her repertoire ranges from ancient music up to music of the 20th century.

Fink frequently appears with such well-known orchestras as the London Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin and Dresden, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as with the best-known Baroque orchestras.

In the 2012-13 season, Fink will be a part of many interesting projects including a European tour of Bach's St. Matthew Passionwith René Jacobs, Missa Solemnis with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Schumann's Paradise and the Peri with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Mahler's 3rd Symphony with the Cleveland Orchestra. Additionally, Fink will sing Mozart's Requiem with the Camerata Salzburg, Mendelssohn's 2nd Symphony with Riccardo Chailly in Amsterdam, Schumann's Scenes from Goethe's Faust with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Mahler's Kindertotenlieder with the Tonkünstler-Orchester and a tour with the Academy of Ancient Music.

In recital, she can be heard in Vienna's Musikverein, Philharmonie Berlin, Wigmore Hall and on tour throughout the USA. Fink will also perform this season in duo recitals with her brother, Marcos Fink, in Ljubljana, Lille, at the Festival du Lied in Fribourg in Switzerland and at the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg.

In February 2006, Fink was awarded the Austrian Honorary Medal for Art and Science by the Austrian Chancellor.

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.