The award-winning Houston Youth Symphony (HYS) presents a virtual concert performance featuring its five youth orchestra ensembles. Filmed on the Wortham Theater Center’s Brown stage on January 31, without a live audience, the concert videos are available for free viewing on the Houston Youth Symphony Vimeo page (https://vimeo.com/houstonyouthsymphony). A concert program PDF is available here.
The HYS Symphony is the most advanced ensemble, and is led by Artistic Director Michael Webster. The Symphony’s program includes Igor Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird (1919), and features a performance by the 2019/2020 HYS Concerto Competition Winner Matthew Zhang, cello, whose performance was postponed from May 2020 due to the pandemic. Matthew performs Variations on a Rococo Theme for cello and orchestra by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Matthew is a senior at Bellaire High School, where he is a member of the orchestra program under the direction of Laurette Reynosa. He began his musical journey at age 7, when he joined the Houston Boychoir. Matthew began playing the cello at age 10, and has studied with Stephen Wiggs, Jose Rocha, and Cornelia Watkins. He is currently a student of Christopher French, Associate Principal Cellist of the Houston Symphony. This season marks his fourth year with Houston Youth Symphony. (Click here for a photo of Matthew Zhang.)
The HYS Winter Concert video selections also include performances from the following ensembles:
Philharmonia, under the direction of Michael Alan Isadore, performs two movements from Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95.
Sinfonia, led by conductor Brad Smith, performs Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance and George Gershwin’s An American in Paris Suite, arranged by John Whitney.
String Orchestra, led by Co-Conductors Carolyn Vandiver and Ann Victor, performing Chant-Formations by Deborah Baker Monday and Rhythm Dances by Brian Balmages.
Debut String Orchestra, under the direction of Jackson Guillén, performing El Gaucho by Bob Lipton, Impromptu by Jean Sibelius (arr. D. de la Rosa), and Mantras by Richard Meyer.
Following rigorous COVID safety protocols, including health screenings, face masks, physical distancing, shortened rehearsal times, as well as air and surface sanitization processes, HYS orchestras rehearsed in large spaces at Houston First’s George R. Brown Convention Center. Artistic Director Michael Webster noted “I am amazed at how well our musicians are coping with the vast spaces! I also appreciate how diligent everyone has been about our safety protocols. We have balanced safety with our strong desire to make music together, and are pleased to share these concert videos with our community.”
Houston Youth Symphony’s programs are made possible in part by the City of Houston, through the Houston Arts Alliance. Additional support is provided by the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment of the Arts and by many philanthropic individuals, foundations and corporations. The HYS Board of Directors, artistic and administrative staff, musicians and families are grateful for everyone’s support during these challenging times, and remain as committed as ever to its mission of providing quality music education and performance opportunities to area youth. For additional information on HYS and its many programs, visit www.HoustonYouthSymphony.org or phone 713-785-2422.