Houston Symphony Magazine From the Orchestra June 2011

On behalf of my fellow musicians, welcome to the Houston Symphony! For our orchestra, June is our 'road warrior' month. In addition to two weeks of concerts at the Miller Theatre and a weekend at the Ima Hogg competition at Rice, this month we pack all of the orchestras equipment- stands, lights, music, chairs, piano, harp, basses, celli, etc... into a large truck and take our family friendly 'Sounds Like Fun' concerts to all the far flung corners of our city. Performing in churches, community centers and schools brings with it a distinct set of challenges- particularly for our good-natured and hard working stage crew, who put in many twelve hour days this month! But it's well worth the effort when we see young families, school children and many others who have never had the opportunity to hear a symphony before gather in their own neighborhood to experience the power of incredible music heard live. The looks on the faces of the young people in the audience show the ability of this music to cross all borders of culture and age and speak to our common humanity. Our free concerts at Miller Theater offer another chance for a relaxed introduction to symphonic music. What could make for a better evening than the chance to sit under the stars with a picnic basket and your loved ones, listening to great art? Also this month, we will accompany the four finalists in the Ima Hogg competition at Rice, and present the Silver Medalist, as well as the winners of Fidelity's FutureStage competition at the Miller theater. The Ima Hogg competition (named for the visionary philanthropist whose support helped build the symphony into a world renowned ensemble) is for college aged musicians, while the Fidelity competition promotes talent from Houston public high schools. At the top levels, when almost all contestants are well qualified technically, competition in music becomes very subjective. Just as you couldn't choose a 'winner' between Monet and Picasso, it is usually impossible to objectively pick the 'best' player in a field of talented and accomplished musicians. And yet competitions have been a part of our musical landscape from the beginning- Bach, Beethoven and Lizst were all challenged to 'play-offs'. For the musicians, while the rewards of winning are sweet, it's not always about the results. Ravel lost the his conservatory's composition contest, the Prix de Rome, five times, but learned more in losing than all of the forgotten winners! The excitement and pressure of being judged helps build the nerves and self confidence that we need as professional musicians, and even in unsuccessful outings, the chance to perform helps us to keep improving. While we musicians often have our personal favorites, we always take pleasure in the high level of all of our contestants and the fact that we are able to give all of them an experience that will help them continue to grow as musicians and allow them to connect with our wonderful Houston audiences! Enjoy the concert!