Houston Symphony Appoints New Community-Embedded Musicians
The Houston Symphony announces the addition of violinist Patricia Quintero Garcia and violist Alexa Sangbin Thomson to its Community Embedded Musicians initiative, now in its fourth year. Garcia and Thomson succeed violist Anthony Parce and cellist Hellen Weberpal, who left in August for positions with the Nashville and Atlanta Symphonies, respectively.
Garcia and Thomson join the program after an extensive International search and selection process that drew 106 candidates, all of whom submitted applications and answered questions regarding community engagement. Of those 106, 45 were invited to Houston for live auditions, interviews, and teaching demonstrations with local schoolchildren. The field was winnowed down to nine, and Garcia and Thomson were offered the positions from among that nine, joining cellist Rainel Joubert and bassist David Connor to comprise the four musicians of the Symphony's Community-Embedded Musician initiative.
"Both Patricia and Alexa perfectly embody what we look for in our Community-Embedded Musicians," said Pam Blaine, Chief of Education and Community Engagement, "world-class artists who can perform with the Houston Symphony, then turn right around the next day and engage and enthrall a classroom of grade schoolers, teaching them how to find meaning in art. These musicians are on a journey to transform lives daily in Houston's diverse communities, and I look forward to seeing Patricia and Alexa join Rainel and David on that path."
"I am incredibly excited to be a Community-Embedded Musician," said Alexa Sangbin Thomson. "What a valuable opportunity to change lives through music! Perhaps the most exciting thing for me about this particular setup is the ability to work with a team of people dedicated towards this common goal, sharing ideas and inspirations, feeding each other's creativity and passion and making these connections happen."
Patricia Quintero Garcia concurred, adding "I am very excited to be part of this wonderful group of people and I look forward to contributing to their mission."
First up for Garcia and Thomson are performances with the Houston Symphony at Jones Hall: Garcia performs at the December 4th Upper Elementary Student Concert on the Robbins Foundation Student Concert Series, and both Garcia and Thomson perform in the December 8th A Polar Express Christmas on the BBVA Compass Family Concert Series.
About the Community-Embedded Musician Program
Prior to the program's inception in 2015, the Houston Symphony provided approximately 200 individual and small group activities. The Community-Embedded Musician initiative has allowed the Houston Symphony to provide over 1000 such activities annually, in hospitals, schools, community centers and myriad other venues. They educate, engage and excite thousands of children and adults through hundreds of interactions in underserved areas.
The four musicians have up to 40 opportunities each year to perform as part of the Houston Symphony. However, they spend the great majority (over 80%) of their time planning and engaging in education and community programs throughout Greater Houston. These Community-Embedded Musician positions are essentially hybrids: both team members of the Symphony's Education and Community Engagement Department, as well as frequent substitute musicians in the orchestra.
The Community-Embedded Musician initiative is made possible through the investment of these generous supporters: Spec's Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods/Spec's Charitable Foundation, National Endowment of the Arts, the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, BBVA Compass, Mr. Monzer Hourani, H-E-B, Jay Steinfeld and Barbara Winthrop, and Nancy and Robert Peiser.
About the Houston Symphony
During the 2018-19 season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its fifth season with Music Director Andrés Orozco- Estrada and continues its second century as one of America's leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. The Houston Symphony, one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas, held its inaugural performance at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $33.9 million, the full-time ensemble of 88 professional musicians presents nearly 170 concerts annually, making it the largest performing arts organization in Houston. Additionally, musicians of the orchestra and the Symphony's four Community-Embedded Musicians offer over 900 community-based performances each year, reaching thousands of people in Greater Houston.
The Grammy Award-winning Houston Symphony has recorded under various prestigious labels, including Naxos, Koch International Classics, Telarc, RCA Red Seal, Virgin Classics and, most recently, Dutch recording label PENTATONE. In 2017, the Houston Symphony was awarded an ECHO Klassik award for the live recording of Alban Berg's Wozzeck under the direction of former Music Director Hans Graf. The orchestra earned its first Grammy nomination and Grammy Award at the 60th annual ceremony for the same recording in the Best Opera Recording category.