Apollo Chamber Players Unveils 17th Season Featuring George Takei, World Premieres & More

The new season's opening program is LIBERTY.

By: Jun. 27, 2024
Apollo Chamber Players Unveils 17th Season Featuring George Takei, World Premieres & More
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The Houston-based Apollo Chamber Players has revealed their upcoming 17th season exploring a theme of We the People, an extended focus on American democracy in both its ideals and its imperfections. In a series of four insightfully curated programs - LIBERTY, OPPORTUNITY, DIVERSITY and FREEDOM - Apollo takes an in-depth look at key facets of the American system and character, examining the promises the nation has made to its people and the extent to which they've been fulfilled or broken. Conceived with the upcoming presidential election in mind, this season's theme also expands on issues posed by last season's Silenced Voices programming, focusing on censorship and suppression. The new season's opening program, LIBERTY, spotlights actor, author and activist George Takei as narrator, while featuring the world premiere of a newly adapted commissioned work, One Sweet Morning, by five-time GRAMMY-winning American composer John Corigliano. Multiple other world premieres will be featured across the four programs.

In addition to the four themed concerts, Apollo will present their Satellite Series of free community concerts beginning in August 2024 at Miller Outdoor Theatre with Mekong: Soul, a program built around stories from Southeast Asia. The series continues with the Eighth Annual Czech Heritage Month Concert and the annual Holiday Voyage concert, a multicultural celebration of holiday spirit and religious pluralism.

In partnership with the Chamber Music America Conference, Apollo Chamber Players presents its Apollo Moonshot program at Holocaust Museum Houston, also the site of its final themed concert, LIBERTY. Concluding a four-year partnership with the Harris County Public Library, Apollo also performs the final concerts in its Library Voyage program, which takes the quartet to free concerts at all 26 branches of Harris County Public Library. The project's finale concert at Space Center Houston features special guests including astronaut John Herrington. In keeping with its We the People theme, Apollo also brings an additional outreach program, Democracy, to the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

"The Preamble of our Constitution poetically describes a template for self determination and democratic values," said Apollo founder and Artistic Director Matthew J. Detrick. "It was birthed, however, in a different time and place, for a context in which the lofty, pluralistic ideals it espoused were not yet universally shared. Over the last 17 years, Apollo has sought to expand, reimagine and diversify the founding ideals of America - bringing the enlightened inspiration of the founding fathers meaningfully into the 21st century. On this journey, our growing catalog of over 50 multicultural commissions has fostered the creativity of countless creatives and reached listeners around the world in sublime and profound ways. Apollo's expanding discography will also continue to create cultural harmony for generations to come.

"The consciousness of the country comes alive during tumultuous times," he continued. "As we enter an election year of singular consequence, our programming strives to reflect democracy - its triumphs and challenges at home and abroad - as an idea worth championing. Together, we can help form a more perfect union."

The first concert of the We the People series, LIBERTY, will be held on Saturday, October 5, 2024 at 7:00pm at Houston's Zilkha Hall, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. In exploring the nation's noble quest to "secure the blessings of liberty" for its citizens, the program also shines a light on those times when it has fallen tragically short. George Takei, the Japanese-American actor, author and activist, will tell the story of his family's forced internment during World War II, as those of Japanese ancestry had their most basic freedoms stripped away in one of democracies darkest chapters. Commenting on the program, Takei said, "Our democracy is a precious ideal that requires all of us, as Americans, to actively engage with it to keep it strong and true and shining."

Takei's narration will be set to the world premiere of a new work, The Book of Names, by Texas A&M faculty composer Marty Regan. Two other works also make their world premieres in this program. Renowned composer John Corigliano's One Sweet Morning, performed in a newly adapted arrangement for string quartet and voice, reflects a post-9/11 aspiration for a time of peace and freedom from war and terror. Countenor John Holiday is featured alongside the Apollo Chamber Players. A second newly commissioned work by Afghani-born composer Homayoun Sakhi offers a global perspective on the promises and perils of self-government and the eternal quest for liberty.

Apollo Chamber Players presents their second We the People program, OPPORTUNITY, on Saturday, January 4, 2025 at 7:30pm at Houston's MATCH in Midtown. In this concert, Apollo celebrates the United States as a beacon of creative freedom and opportunity by highlighting composers who were drawn to the nation from origins around the world, leaving the U.S. more richly diverse and beautiful. From UK-born Benjamin Britten - who traveled to North America to find refuge as a pacifist as World War II raged in Europe - Apollo performs the composer's String Quartet No. 2. Among its other selections, Apollo also features Sonata for two violins by Hungarian-Jewish composer Miklós Rózsa, who also left for the United States during World War II. The program also features works by two Cuban-born composers: Nostalgia de los Montañas, by Leo Brouwer, and Canto Siboney by Ernesto Lecuona, who left the island following the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Turkish-American composer Erberk Eryilmaz's Thracian Airs of Besime Sultan completes the program. Alongside Apollo Chamber Players, the concert features performances by percussionist Jesús Pacheco and dancers from the Houston Ballet, performing in tandem with Brouwer's work with choreography by Mónica Gómez and Estheysis Menendez.

On Friday, March 21, 2025 at 7:00pm, Apollo Chamber Players performs their We the People program DIVERSITY at Zilkha Hall, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Timed for the Persian New Year celebration, Nowruz, the program celebrates the multicultural beauty of Houston, the most ethnically diverse city in the United States. Reflecting on the rarity of a nation founded on principles of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and diversity of thought, this program also raises the question of whether America will ever realize the promise of a truly pluralistic, multiracial society living in harmony.

In the highlight of this multicultural program, Apollo performs the world premiere of Iranian-American composer Reza Vali's Bandari, a composition for string quartet and percussion featuring Iranian-born percussionist Pejman Hadadi alongside Apollo. The program also features Palestinian-American composer Muyassar Kurdi's Lullaby for the Children of the Sun, a lament for civilian casualties in the Palestinian conflict with Israel - alongside Israeli-born composer Gilad Cohen's Three Goat Blues, a takeoff on the Jewish Passover prayer Chad Gadya ("one little goat") that becomes a parable for our many possible fates in life, from oppression to salvation. American composer Daniel Bernard Roumain's String Quartet No. 5 "Rosa Parks" completes the program. Apollo Chamber Players will present a preview performance of DIVERSITY on March 20, 2025 at 7:30pm at the Visual and Performing Arts Center, Lone Star College.

The final program of the We the People series, FREEDOM, will be held against the powerful backdrop of Holocaust Museum Houston on Sunday, May 10, 2025 at 7:30pm and reprised on Sunday, May 18, 2025 at Unity Houston. In an intergenerational dialogue about freedom, democracy and the future, this program pairs Howard Hanson's 1957 work Song of Democracy, a musical setting for poetry by Walt Whitman, with works by new and aspiring composers. Apollo will perform the world premiere of Marcus Moroney's What Does Democracy Mean to You?, a commission for string quartet and choir inspired by themes of democracy and based on text contributions from Creative Writing and U.S. History students at Houston's Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA). The HSPVA Choir will perform alongside Apollo Chamber Players. The program also features world premiere compositions by International Commissioning Contest winners, as well as a set of Ukrainian, Polish and Greek folk songs.

To accompany the We the People series, Apollo commissioned artwork from Houston-based artist Liana Amaya. In her painting, also titled "We the People," the arts serve as a beacon of hope amidst the turbulence of our political landscape, echoing the resilient spirit of America's and Houston's multicultural communities. Through a symphony of colors, symbols, and figures, this piece illuminates the profound influence of artistic expression, music and activism in navigating the challenges of modern democracy.

Beyond its We the People theme, Apollo Chamber Players will present an assortment of other programs under its Satellite Series of free community concerts - beginning with Mekong: Soul on Saturday, August 24, 2024 at 8:30pm at the Miller Outdoor Theatre. This powerful and immersive program has been crafted around three stories of life on the Mekong River of Southeast Asia, featuring Emmy Award-winning musician Vân-Ánh Võ, music by Stanford University faculty composer Jonathan Berger and special guests. The program also features an adaptation of Marty Regan's Splash of Indigo, newly choreographed by Houston Ballet dancers Connor Walsh and Chae-Eun Yang.

In a second Satellite Series program, Apollo presents the Eighth Annual Czech Heritage Month Concert on Thursday, October 17, 2024 at 7:00pm at the Czech Center Museum Houston. Underwritten by Father Paul Chovanec, pastor at St. Justin's Martyr Parish in Houston, the program celebrates the bicentennial of the beloved Bohemian composer Bedřich Smetana's birth with a selection of his chamber music, including his fervently fiery First String Quartet and masterful Piano Trio.

In Holiday Voyage, also part of the Satellite Series, Apollo presents its annual winter holiday program on Saturday, December 14, 2024 at 7:00pm at First Congregational Church Houston. Celebrating the idea of religious pluralism as a means of fostering compassion and cultural harmony, Apollo will once again contribute all proceeds from this program to Healthcare for the Homeless-Houston.

On February 15, 2025 at 1:00pm, Apollo Chambers players presents Apollo Moonshot, a program of the ensemble's most innovative and popular commissions, at Holocaust Museum Houston as part of the Chamber Music America Conference. The keynote program will include Apollo commissions by Jennifer Higdon, Jerod Tate, Jasmine Barnes and Homayoun Sakhi.

On May 9, 2025 at 7:00pm, Apollo presents Democracy, a version of the final We the People concert, FREEDOM, at the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

This season also brings the final concerts of Apollo's Library Voyage program, a four-year effort to bring free concerts to all 26 branches of the Harris County Public Library while uniting the surrounding multicultural community in shared civic spaces. In visiting every branch across the county, spread over an area larger than New Jersey and Delaware combined, the Apollo Chamber Players have logged around 2,000 miles in travel.

"On this journey we've reached thousands of listeners of all ages and backgrounds, including many experiencing the joy and intimacy of chamber music for the first time," Detrick said. "We thank Harris County Public Library and their incredible staff for their collaborative spirit and hard work, and to those that have joined us along the way."

Apollo marks the conclusion of the project with a celebratory concert, CommUNITY: Library Voyage FINALE at Destiny Theater, Space Center Houston on Saturday, November 16, 2024 at 6:00pm, presented in partnership with the Harris County Public Library. The performance features key artists from past projects and other special guests, among them: astronaut John Herrington, violinist Eddy Marcano, tenor Kenneth Gayle, tenor Wayne Ashley (Houston Chamber Choir), poet Outspoken Bean (Houston Poet Laureate Emeritus), composer John Cornelius and percussionist Jesús Pacheco.

In the run-up to the finale, Apollo will make its final five library appearances as follows: Chapter 22: Wednesday, June 26, 2024 at 5:00pm, Jacinto City Branch; Chapter 23: Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 6:00pm, Stratford Branch; Chapter 24: September 7, 2024 at 2:00pm, Fairbanks Branch; Chapter 25: October 12, 2024 at 11:00am, Baldwin Boettcher Branch; Chapter 26: November 2, 2024 at 2:00pm, Atascocita Branch.

Apollo Chamber Players Season 17: We the People
Info: https://www.apollochamberplayers.org/artemis-series-2425.html
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Concert 1: LIBERTY

Saturday, October 5, 2024 at 7:30 pm
Zilkha Hall, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts | Houston, TX

John Corigliano - One Sweet Morning [World Premiere, Apollo Commission]
Commission for string quintet and voice
Homayoun Sakhi - New work inspired by themes of liberty and justice [World Premiere, Apollo Commission]
Marty Regan - The Book of Names with narration by George Takei [World Premiere]

Apollo Chamber Players
George Takei, actor, author & activist
John Corigliano, composer
John Holiday, countertenor
Marty Regan, composer


Saturday, January 4, 2024 at 7:30pm
MATCH in Midtown | Houston, TX

Britten - String Quartet No. 2
Erberk Eryilmaz - Thracian Airs of Besime Sultan
Miklós Rózsa - Sonata for two violins
Leo Brouwer - Nostalgia de los Montañas*
Ernesto Lecuona - Canto Siboney
*choreography by Mónica Gómez and Estheysis Menendez

Apollo Chamber Players
Mónica Gómez, Estheysis Menendez, Allison Whitley and Gian Carlo Perez, dancers (Houston Ballet)
Jesús Pacheco, percussion

Concert 3: DIVERSITY

Thursday, March 20, 2025 at 7:30pm
Visual and Performing Arts Center, Lone Star College | Houston, TX

Friday, March 21, 2024 at 7:30pm
Zilkha Hall, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts | Houston, TX

Reza Vali - Bandari [World Premiere, Apollo Commission]
Muyassar Kurdi - Lullaby for the Children of the Sun
Gilad Cohen - Three Goat Blues
Daniel Bernard Roumain - String Quartet No. 5 "Rosa Parks"

Apollo Chamber Players
Reza Vali, composer
Pejman Hadadi, percussion


Saturday, May 10, 2024 at 7:00pm
Holocaust Museum Houston | Houston, TX

Sunday, May 18, 2025 at 2:00pm
Unity Houston | Houston, TX

Howard Hanson/Walt Whitman (Arr. Mark Buller) - Song of Democracy [World Premiere Arrangement]
Marcus Maroney - "What does Democracy Mean to You?" [World Premiere, Apollo Commission]
Works by International Commissioning Contest winners [World Premieres]
Ukrainian, Polish and Greek Folk Song set

Apollo Chamber Players
Marcus Maroney, composer (UH Moores School of Music)
Mark Buller, composer
HSPVA choir

Free Satellite Concert Series
Saturday, August 24, 2024 at 8:30pm
Miller Outdoor Theatre | Houston, TX

Eighth Annual Czech Heritage Month Concert
Thursday, October 17, 2024 at 7:00pm
Czech Center Museum Houston | Houston, TX

Holiday Voyage
Saturday, December 14, 2024 at 7:00pm
First Congregational Church Houston | Houston, TX

Chamber Music America Conference
February 15, 2025 at 1:00pm
Holocaust Museum Houston | Houston, TX

Friday, April 18 at 7:30pm
UHCL Bayou Theater

Friday, May 9 at 7:00pm
Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts

Library Voyage Series

Chapter 22
Wednesday, June 26, 2024 at 5:00pm
Jacinto City Branch

Chapter 23
Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 6:00pm
Stratford Branch

Chapter 24
Saturday, September 7, 2024 at 2:00pm
Fairbanks Branch

Chapter 25
Saturday, October 12, 2024 at 11:00am
Baldwin Boettcher Branch

Chapter 26
Saturday, November 2, 2024 at 2:00pm
Atascocita Branch

CommUNITY: Library Voyage FINALE
Saturday, November 16, 2024 at 6:00pm
Destiny Theater, Space Center Houston


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