University of Houston Hosts Musical Talent
By Natasha Naik
The music scene in Houston has long been one of its hidden gems. The 27th Annual Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival (TMF) is a testament to that and is taking place at the University of Houston currently through July 2. The event showcases some of the nation’s leading musical talent.
The four-week event has had a different headliner each week, with this week being “The Audience’s Guide to the Orchestra”. This will be their first approach to an orchestral “primer” program for classical music lovers of all ages. The event will feature Guest Conductor Mei-Ann Chen who will take the podium for this weekend’s performances.
The festival’s Grand Finale on July 2, will feature Strauss’s “An Alpine Symphony, Op. 64”, an epic piece about an 11-hour physical and spiritual journey climbing an Alpine mountain, and Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante for Four Winds, Op. 297b”. This final performance will highlight four of TMF’s faculty members with native Texan Carl St. Clair conducting. The soloists include Richard Beene, Dean Emeritus of the Colburn School Conservatory of Music, on the bassoon, Leone Buyse, a professor at the Rice University Shepherd School of Music, on flute, Jonathan Fischer, of the Houston Symphony on oboe, and Robert Johnson, of the Houston Symphony on horn. Fischer and Johnson are both affiliate artists at the UH Moores School of Music.
There is a great deal of local talent being showcased at the festival, but a number of artists from around the world are also making their way to Houston to be a part of this prestigious event. The TMC’s Cynthia Mitchell Young Artist Competition has been taking place during the festival and the final round will be this coming weekend. The finalists are Sukyung Ahn, on violin, Ahra Cho on violin, Tomasz Kowalczyk, on marimba, Mary O’Keefe on oboe, Juan Esteban Martinez on clarinet, Kathryne Salo on flute, and Johann Schuster on double bass.
The variety of backgrounds and ethnicities and the caliber of the participants speak to the prestige of this event. The stakes are high for those competing, with the winners receiving the opportunity to perform solo at the Moores Opera House on the 25th, as well as making an appearance in Leipzig’s famed Gewandhaus with the Leipzig Akademisches Orkestert this fall.
Over the course of the month-long event, the festival has held seminars and workshops across the city for musicians that have come far and wide to participate and learn. Take advantage of this musical gem and attend the last week of this spectacular classical music event. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for senior citizens and students.