In the Memorial City area of Houston’s west side resides one of Houston’s cultural treasures. For over two decades, this jewel of the Houston performing arts community has been educating and training future legends of the classical music world. Virtuosi of Houston celebrates its 22nd season of excellence in chamber music education and performance.
Virtuosi of Houston (VoH) is a premier youth chamber orchestra for gifted instrumentalists created to increase music education and performance opportunities for Houston’s middle to high school age musicians who aspire to have a professional music career. For twenty-two years, this organization has excelled in bringing an expanded repertoire of classical chamber works to Houston audiences. The chamber group is smaller than a typical symphony orchestra, allowing these exceptional musicians to experience increased confidence, leadership, responsibility and skill through individual attention from two world-class conductors.
Talented young musicians from the greater Houston area focus on a chamber orchestra repertoire under a unique co-conductor structure of instruction and direction by two professors from the University of Houston Moores School of Music. Franz Anton Krager, Professor and Director of Orchestras and Andrzej Grabiec, Professor of Violin, are the founding artistic directors and conductors of VoH, who actively participate in 30 pre-concert rehearsals per year. VoH holds auditions each spring and fall before each new season begins. VoH ensures that their specialized music education and professional performance opportunities are available to all who meet their artistic standards regardless of their financial limitations by offering tuition support for those who need it. According to a public opinion survey conducted by Americans for the Arts, “91% of respondents believe that the arts are vital to a well-rounded education and 96% agree that the arts belong to everyone, not just the fortunate or privileged.” Local school districts cut elementary art and music programs, and in some cases only the affluent are able to access the arts. VoH prides itself on never turning away any student due to his or her family’s inability to pay the tuition. Their distinct desire to provide all potential students the opportunity to engage in activities that they may not be exposed to otherwise is what drives their community impact.
VoH’s chamber orchestra typically consists of 50-55 members, from over 30 different zip codes all across the greater Houston/Galveston metroplex. Their programs focus on expanding music education and performance opportunities through chamber music rehearsals and concerts, a concerto competition, master classes, a small ensemble program, a small ensemble summer workshop, their Touch of Music program which is a collaboration with HISD’s after school programs, and the biennial Virtuosi Around the Global program.
VoH performs three to four major public concerts each year. Two of those concerts are at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Zilkha Hall and one as their annual fundraising dinner. Occasionally, there is one additional performance during the season that is free to the public.
Last season VoH’s concert calendar was especially full with special performances in Washington D.C. and in the United Kingdom.
In January of 2017, Virtuosi of Houston had the rare opportunity to send 13 of their young musicians to Washington D.C. to perform at several Presidential Inauguration events and to attend the Inauguration ceremony. During the four-day visit, Virtuosi musicians performed at a Congressional Dinner, the Texas Society’s Black Tie and Boots Ball, and a special black tie inauguration dinner at the Trump International Hotel.
Additionally, as part of Virtuosi’s biennial international cultural and music education program, Virtuosi Around the Global, VoH’s entire orchestra traveled to the U.K. to study and perform. During this international experience, Virtuosi musicians toured famous points of interest in London and then headed to Chichester to rehearse and perform with musicians from the University of Chichester School of Music, the largest music school in the U.K. This trip concluded with a joint concert of the combined Virtuosi of Houston and University of Chichester orchestras at the 1000-year-old Chichester Cathedral.
Virtuosi of Houston launches its 22nd season with its annual Opening Night Concert on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at the Hobby Center. In the spring, they will perform their annual Immanuel and Helen B. Olshan Annual Concerto Concert on March 24, 2018, which will showcase the winners of their annual concerto competition. These concerts are part of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts’ Uniquely Houston program and provides the VoH musicians the unique opportunity to perform in a world-class venue, typically experienced only by musicians who have already completed their university studies and achieved professional standing. VoH ends their 2017-2018 concert season with their annual black tie dinner and concert gala on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at the new luxury hotel, The Post Oak.
Virtuosi of Houston continues to make a lasting impact on the performing arts in Houston. Their excellent music education and performance programs provide Houston with the invaluable gift of outstanding music performances that sound well beyond the youthful ages of their talented students. To witness one of their performances first hand promises a musical experience that will be sure to leave you inspired as to what the future holds for these gifted young musicians.
For more information about Virtuosi of Houston’s education programs or concerts call 713.807.0888 or email [email protected]