Texas Music Festival to Pack Star Power with COSMIC BEGINNINGS
The Immanuel and Helen Olshan TEXAS MUSIC FESTIVAL (TMF) will pack the star power this June, from launching its 2018 TMF Orchestra Series with "Cosmic Beginnings," a space spectacular pairing Strauss and Holst space-themed masterpieces, to presenting Maestro Hans Graf's first Houston guest conducting appearance since earning the prestigious Grammy Award in January.
The 29th Annual TMF "Cool & Classical" Orchestra Series, staged on four consecutive Saturday nights between June 5 - July 1, will showcase the talents of classical music's rising stars, whose career trajectories have led them to Houston to study and perform with world-class conductors, soloists and faculty artists at the University of Houston (UH) Moores Opera House and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.
"We're celebrating some incredible milestones this season, starting with the 100th anniversary of the first public concert of Holst: The Planets, and Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra - which dates back to 1896 and was prominently used in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 classic, '2001: A Space Odyssey' (50-year anniversary) --- and on to Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story honoring the iconic composer's birth in 1918," said Alan Austin, TMF General and Artistic Director. "This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the completion of muralist Frank Stella's "Euphonia" that graces our TMF home, the Moores Opera House (MOH). It's a breathtaking installation that's the largest public artwork on campus and one of Stella's largest public works." The brightly colored abstract piece spans the 100-foot-long barrel-vaulted ceiling of the lobby, the mezzanine's large-scale triptych and the catwalk inside the opera house.
Other highlights: TMF Week 2, Timothy Hester, UH Moores School of Music (MSM) professor of piano and director of the Keyboard Collaborative Arts, will be guest soloist for the Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83, and Graf will conduct an all Shostakovich program for TMF Week 4 that features the composer's earliest two orchestral pieces, and his last: Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarotti, Op. 145a sung by bass soloist Nikolay Didenko, a former member of
New to the Festival this year will be TMF Contemporary, a new initiative for contemporary chamber music headed by MSM composer Rob Smith and the TMF Conductors Institute which is designed to provide conducting training for a select group of conductors who will work with TMF resident and guest maestros. The Institute will culminate in a performance featuring finalists from the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition and TMF Chamber Orchestras, conducted by Conductors Institute participants. (Concert date TBA.)
TMF is a one-month international music residency that brings 95 fellows from top-tier music schools and conservatories worldwide to Houston. The city's largest classical presenter in June with nearly 30 performances, the Festival is made possible by a gift from the Immanuel and Helen B. Olshan Foundation and support from the UH MSM, a part of the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts. Celebrating its 30th season in 2019, TMF's concerts are indoors on the UH Main Campus (Moores Opera House and Dudley Recital Hall) and many free or at a nominal cost.
The TMF Orchestra Series will lift off Saturday, June 9 (TMF Week 1) with a soaring double feature of Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30, and the seven-movement The Planets, under the baton of TMF Music Director & Chief Conductor Franz Anton Krager. "This space-theme music program is a first for TMF and so fitting for our Space City," said Krager, the Hourani Endowed Professor of Music, Director of Orchestras, and Chair of the Conducting Department at UH Moores School of Music.
"Heroic Statements" take to the stage for TMF Week 2, Saturday, June 16, with Timothy Hester as piano soloist for the Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83 and Horst Foerster making his fourth TMF guest conducting appearance. "As a performer, I love the process of finding out where I am at this point of my musical life by challenging myself with a work of epic proportion. I relish being in the middle of the turbulent maelstrom of harmony, melody and rhythm, all the while trying to do my best to project what emotions I imagine Brahms had in mind. I am humbled by his genius and his soulful heart and consider it the greatest privilege to study this magnificent concerto," said Hester, a graduate of The Juilliard School. Filling out the bill will be Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique," which translates, "impassioned suffering." Foerster is founder and conductor, Akademisches Orchester Leipzig and former Professor of Conducting, Berlin Music Academy and former music director, Schwerin Philharmonic and Loh Orchester Sondershausen.
Turina: Danzas Fantásticas, Op. 22; Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story; and Márquez: Danzón No. 2 Friday, June 22, 8 p.m., (Woodlands Pavilion) and Saturday, June 23, 7:30 p.m. (Moores Opera House.) The latter work gained popularity worldwide when Maestro Gustavo Dudamel conducted it with the Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela in 2007. TMF Guest Conductor will be Carlos Spierer, no stranger to Houston having studied violin with Fredell Lack at UH prior to pursuing conducting at the Conservatory for Music in Hamburg. He attended several Master Classes including the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival with Leonard Bernstein in 1987, where he won first place in the Conducting Competition. The June 22 and 23 concerts also will spotlight the student winner of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition as soloist (work TBA.)
For TMF Week 4 on June 30, the Festival will welcome back Houston favorite Maestro Hans Graf, who holds the distinction of being the longest serving Music Director in Houston Symphony Orchestra (HSO) history. Fresh off his 2017 Grammy Award win with HSO, Graf will present "Shostakovich: First and Last," starting with Scherzo No. 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 1, which the composer wrote at age 13. Graf, who has led major North American and European orchestras such as the New York, Los Angeles, Vienna and London Philharmonic orchestras among many others, will continue with Symphony No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 10, which Shostakovich completed at age 18 for his Petrograd Conservatory graduation, and finish with Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarotti, Op. 145a. with bass soloist Nikolay Didenko performing. He has sung with Cologne Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Bolshoi Theater and Opéra Royal de Versailles, among his credits and is on the Grammy Award-winning disc Penderecki Conducts Penderecki, for Best Choral Performance (2017.)
The TMF Season closes with a preview concert by the MSM Concert Chorale, under the direction of Betsy Cook Weber, July 1, 3 p.m, before flying off to Debrecen, Hungary to compete in the Bela Bartok International Choir Competition, one of the world's oldest and most prestigious choral competitions.
Florian Leonhard Fine Violins, a global expert on rare Italian instruments, will return to TMF with a dozen extremely rare violins and bows for an exhibit where students of all ages can play the instruments.
More than 370 applicants from across the U.S. and 17 countries applied for the prestigious TMF Orchestral Institute, representing nearly 80 notable institutions including The Juilliard School,
Curtis Institute of Music, Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes School of Music, New England Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, The Peabody Institute, Rice.
University Shepherd School of Music and UH Moores School. The TMF Orchestra's 95 Fellows are chosen by highly competitive live and recorded auditions. Students receive a full fellowship to underwrite their time in Houston.
The Festival offers the chance to win a guest soloist role through the Cynthia Woods Mitchell
Young Artist Competition, open to all TMF Orchestra fellows, with the final judging a free public event Sunday, June 10, 2 p.m. at UH Dudley Recital Hall.