Acrobats Soar Above The Houston Symphony With The Greatest Of Ease In An Evening Of High-Flying Excitement And Incredible Music 

HOUSTON (April 12, 2019) – The Houston Symphony welcomes back former Principal POPS Conductor Michael Krajewski to Jones Hall in the gravity-defying program Cirque de la Symphonie at 8 p.m. April 26–27 and 2:30 p.m. April 28.

The program features the orchestra on stage performing some of the best known and loved works by Tchaikovsky, Johann Strauss, Jr., John Williams and many more of the world’s great composers. Meanwhile, Cirque de la Symphonie’s world-class acrobats, aerial flyers, contortionists, jugglers, tumblers, and strongmen perform choreographed routines above and around the Symphony musicians as they perform these iconic works.

Originally conceived in 2006 by Krajewski, Cirque de la Symphonie is an exciting program featuring some of the most outstanding cirque acts seen in theaters around the world, perfectly choreographed to classical masterpieces and popular contemporary music. The Cirque de la Symphonie program is the Symphony’s penultimate POPS series concert of the 2018–2019 season.

The Cirque de la Symphonie program takes place at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana Street, in Houston’s Theater District. For tickets and information, please call 713.224.7575 or visit Tickets may also be purchased at the Houston Symphony Patron Services Center in Jones Hall (Monday–Saturday, 12–6 p.m.). All programs and artists are subject to change.


Friday, April 26, 2019, 8 p.m.

Saturday, April 27, 2019, 8 p.m.

Sunday, April 28, 2019, 2:30 p.m.

Michael Krajewski, conductor

Cirque de la Symphonie

About Michael Krajewski

“…his wry wit, as spontaneous as a stand-up comedian’s, emerged to amuse the audience. Krajewski turned to the orchestra to lead a bright, sassy account. It showed that he is as effective and entertaining a communicator in music as he is in words.” — Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle

Known for his entertaining programs and clever humor, Michael Krajewski is a much sought-after conductor of symphonic pops. He is music director of The Philly Pops and principal pops conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. He previously served as principal pops conductor of the Houston Symphony and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

As a guest conductor, Michael has performed with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras; the Boston and Cincinnati Pops; the San Francisco, Seattle and St. Louis Symphonies; Baltimore, Detroit, Indianapolis, Dallas, Pittsburgh and National Symphony Orchestras; and numerous other orchestras across the United States. In Canada, he has led Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra; the Toronto, Edmonton and Winnepeg Symphony Orchestras; Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. Other international appearances include performances in Dublin and Belfast with the Ulster Orchestra as well as performances with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, and Spain’s Bilbao Symphony Orchestra.

Michael is the conductor of the video Silver Screen Serenade with violinist Jenny Oaks Baker that aired worldwide on BYU Broadcasting. On recordings, he has led the Houston Symphony on two holiday albums: Glad Tidings and Christmas Festival. His collaborative programs have included such artists as flutist James Galway, mezzo Marilyn Horne, pianist Alicia de Larrocha, guitarist Ángel Romero, and pop artists Rufus Wainwright, Jason Alexander, Roberta Flack, Judy Collins, Art Garfunkel, Wynonna Judd, Kenny Loggins, Ben Folds, Doc Severinsen, Patti Austin, Sandi Patty, Ann Hampton Callaway, Chicago, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Chieftains, Pink Martini, Rockapella, Cirque de la Symphonie, The Doo Wop Project, Classical Mystery Tour, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and The Midtown Men.

With degrees from Wayne State University in Detroit and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Michael furthered his training at the Pierre Monteux Domaine School for Conductors. He was a Dorati Fellowship Conductor with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and later served as that orchestra’s assistant conductor. He was resident conductor of The Florida Orchestra and for 11 years served as music director of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. Michael lives in Orlando, Florida, with his wife, Darcy. When not conducting, he enjoys travel, photography and solving crossword puzzles.

About Cirque de la Symphonie

Cirque de la Symphonie is an exciting production that brings the magic of cirque to the music hall. For more than 10 years, it has thrilled and bedazzled veteran concertgoers and new patrons as they see accomplished aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers, and strongmen perform to live symphony music. Performers include world record holders, international competition gold-medal winners, Olympians and some of the most experienced cirque talent ever seen. Their acts are uniquely adapted to stage accommodations shared with the symphony, and each artist’s performance is choreographed to music arranged in collaboration with the maestro. When the artists of Cirque de la Symphonie perform in front of the full orchestra, an incredible fusion of these two great art forms takes place. The aerialists and acrobats turn the concert into a three-dimensional entertainment extravaganza, and the orchestra seems to play with enhanced enthusiasm.

About Christine Van Loo

Christine Van Loo is a seven-time consecutive National Champion, Female Olympic Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Decade in acrobatic gymnastics. She was inducted into the USA (acro-gymnastics) Hall of Fame and the World Acrobatics Society Gallery of Honor. As a professional aerialist and acrobat, she has performed in the 2002 Winter Olympics, at the Grammy Awards (with No Doubt and Ricky Martin), at the American Music Awards (with Aerosmith), the Miss Universe pageant, and Paul McCartney’s European tour. She was a trainer and performer with NBC’s Celebrity Circus, and she choreographed the aerials for Britney Spears’ World Tour and the Stars on Ice U.S. tour. Christine provides spell-binding performances of aerial silks, rope, lira, and trapeze with Cirque de la Symphonie.

About Elena Tsarkova

Elena Tsarkova, the “Lady in White,” is a graduate of the famed Moscow Circus School and first-place winner of the prestigious National Russian Circus Festival. From “Master of Sports” in gymnastics, Elena developed into a unique and graceful performer with the Big Apple Circus, Switzerland’s Circus Knie and Germany’s Circus Roncalli. Her combination of contortion, balance and graceful dance moves made her a major star with Cirque de la Mur in Florida and Circus Circus in Las Vegas. Elena’s experience with major stage and theater productions offers a professional background that allows for a truly elegant performance with the live symphony.

About Vladimir Tsarkov

Vladimir Tsarkov provides a spell-binding performance with combinations of mime and juggling feats. A favorite of audience members of all ages, Vladimir’s Red Harlequin act features rings, balls and electric batons, and he’s even been known to teach the maestro a trick or two! He is a veteran of Circus Circus, Cirque Ingenieux and various global entertainment productions. Vladimir graduated from Russia’s prestigious State College of Circus and Theater Arts and won the gold medal at the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in France. His performance with the symphony is pure entertainment.

About Vitalli Buza

Vitalii Buza began his gymnastic training in the Republic of Moldova and soon competed as an elite gymnast with the Russian national team. At age 16, Vitalii joined the Moscow State Circus as a professional acrobat and toured throughout Europe. After a move to the United States, he starred in productions at Sea World, Universal Studios and Walt Disney World. He has been featured in numerous TV ads and won a role in the Walt Disney movie Enchanted. Vitalii performed at the 2006 Latin Grammy Awards, the 2007 NFL Pro Bowl, 2010 Academy Awards and the 2011 Billboard Latin Music Awards. He has performed for celebrities and at corporate events for major companies. Vitalii excels in multiple cirque acts, such as duo hand-balancing, straps, Cyr wheel, spinning cube, Chinese pole, and the Russian bar.

About Acro Duo (Vitality Prikhodko & Pavel Korshunov)

The amazing strength and balancing act of Acro Duo includes Vitaliy Prikhodko and Pavel Korshunov. Vitaliy is a native of Ukraine, where he graduated from Kiev State Circus College. He began his career with the National Circus of Ukraine, winning first place at the New Ukrainian Circus Festival. His acrobatic experience includes worldwide tours with Nikulin’s Moscow Circus. Pavel, a native of Voronezh, Russia, is a three-time national champion of Russia, two-time World Champion and two-time Champion of the World Cup in acrobatic sport. A veteran with Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai, Pavel is a multi-talented performer on straps, Russian swing, trampoline and acrobatics. Acro Duo’s performances with Cirque de la Symphonie create spontaneous eruptions of applause and emotion, as the two display a stunning display of strength and balance.

About Vladimir Tsarkov Jr.

Vladimir Tsarkov Jr. comes from a famous circus family rich in the traditions of Russian circus artistry. Trained by masters in the circus arts, he exhibits exceptional talents in all his performances. His “mystery guest” juggling act is a fascinating blend of illusion and juggling skills. Vova is a worldwide star, having performed in major productions spanning from Las Vegas to Korea and enchanted audiences at Busch Gardens’ cirque shows. His impressive performing range includes various juggling acts, spinning shapes, mystery guest, and diablos.

About Alexandra Pivaral

Alexandra “Sasha” Pivaral was born in New York City in 1994 to traveling acrobatic parents. She began her training at age 7 and performed her first lead role in a production show not long after. Since then, she has performed and headlined in countless productions around the world, including Cirque du Soleil. She has won prestigious awards for competing in top international circus shows like the Monte Carlo International Circus Festival in Monaco and is considered to be one of the most talented acrobats in her field of contortion, balancing, and hula hoops. Her stage presence, originality of elements and choreography set her apart.

About the Houston Symphony

During the 2018–19 season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its fifth season with Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada and continues its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. The Houston Symphony, one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas, held its inaugural performance at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $33.9 million, the full-time ensemble of 88 professional musicians presents nearly 170 concerts annually, making it the largest performing arts organization in Houston. Additionally, musicians of the orchestra and the Symphony’s four Community-Embedded Musicians offer over 900 community-based performances each year, reaching thousands of people in Greater Houston.

The Grammy Award-winning Houston Symphony has recorded under various prestigious labels, including Naxos, Koch International Classics, Telarc, RCA Red Seal, Virgin Classics and, most recently, Dutch recording label PENTATONE. In 2017, the Houston Symphony was awarded an ECHO Klassik award for the live recording of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck under the direction of former Music Director Hans Graf. The orchestra earned its first Grammy nomination and Grammy Award at the 60th annual ceremony for the same recording in the Best Opera Recording category.