LOCAL MUSIC EDUCATORS HONORED FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTIONS AT HOUSTON SYMPHONY’S SALUTE TO EDUCATORS CONCERT
HOUSTON (April 27, 2017) – The Houston Symphony honored two deserving music educators Wednesday evening at Jones Hall during the annual Spec’s Charitable Foundation Salute to Educators concert, which featured the talented musicians of the Houston Youth Symphony performing side-by-side with the Houston Symphony.
Salute to Educators is an annual tribute concert for outstanding teachers in Greater Houston and their immeasurable contributions to the community. This year’s program recognized Gabe Musella, a veteran music teacher with nearly 30 years of teaching experience in Texas, with the Spec’s Charitable Foundation Award for Excellence in Music Education. Musella is the director of bands at Spring High School and his students have earned many awards and invitations to perform at festivals and clinics nationwide under his direction. In addition to his teaching contributions, he is an active, published composer and serves on the board of the Foundation for Music Education.
“I’ve always believed that there are no limits to how good you can be other than the limits you place on yourself,” Musella said. “That drives my philosophy on guiding my band program.”
Carolyn Vandiver received the 2017 Aubrey and Sophia Meyer Farb School Bell Award for Lifetime Achievement. She has been the director of orchestras at Stephen F. Austin High School since the school opened its doors in 1995 and was a founding member of the Arlington ISD String Program prior to that. Vandiver has been the co-conductor of the string orchestra of the Houston Youth Symphony for the last 19 years and was also a founding member and manager of the elite chamber orchestra Virtuosi of Houston, an organization designed to provide pre-professional performance opportunities for young musicians.
Brittany Xiao, a former student of Vandiver, said, “Mrs. Vandiver had a great influence on me and my fellow peers, inspiring us to treat school as more than just a class and to pursue lifelong passions of music and foster an appreciation for the arts.”
Led by Associate Conductor Robert Franz, the first half of the evening’s program included Mendelssohn’s “The Hebrides” and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, which featured 16-year old Steven Dong, first place winner at the 2016 Houston Symphony League Concerto Competition. The second half of the concert welcomed the Houston Youth Symphony to perform Debussy’s “La Mer” side-by-side the Houston Symphony.
About Gabe Musella
Gabe Musella, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, has taught for 29 years in Texas. He is currently Director of Bands at Spring High School in Spring, Texas. A graduate of Texas Tech University, he holds a B.M. in Composition and M.M. in Conducting where he studied with the late James Sudduth. His bands are consistent UIL Sweepstakes winners and they have placed in the finals of the TMEA Honor Band competition several times. They have performed at The Midwest Clinic in Chicago, the Music For All National Concert Festival, and placed as National Winners in the Mark of Excellence Windband Honors call for tapes. A frequent clinician and adjudicator throughout Texas he has presented sessions at The Midwest Clinic, TBA, TMEA, TCDA, and The South-Central Region Music Conference. Gabe is president of TMEA Region 33, and he serves on the board of The Foundation For Music Education.
The Spring Band has garnered five Midwest performance invitations for the Wind Ensemble (twice), Jazz Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, and Saxophone Quartet since 2008. Chamber ensembles have qualified to the finals of the Coltman Chamber Competition in Austin, won the Houston Underground Saxophone Contest, and performed at the MFA National Concert Festival in Indianapolis. In 2014 the Spring Saxophone Quartet won the Junior Division Wind Prize at the prestigious Fischoff Chamber Competition in South Bend, Indiana. The Percussion Ensemble has been invited to perform at the 2017 Western International Band Clinic in Seattle. In 2016 the Spring Music Program was named a Grammy Signature School by the Grammy Foundation. Mr. Musella is honored to have the Spring Band designated as a Houston Symphony Residency School during the 2016 – 17 academic year. The Spring Band was featured in the November 2010 issue of The Instrumentalist, and the marching band has qualified to the State Marching Contest at every opportunity since 2006.
Mr. Musella is an active composer published by RBC, C. Alan, Row Loff, Boosey & Hawkes, Carl Fischer, KJOS, and TRN. His works for band, orchestra, percussion ensemble, and chamber groups have been performed internationally and at major music conferences throughout the United States. He has served as Guest Composer-in-Residence at UTEP, Texas Tech, and Columbus State University in Georgia. His compositions are found on the Texas PML for band and orchestra, and on similar lists in several states. He has been frequently honored as a Spring ISD Distinguished Educator. Mr. Musella will receive the prestigious Lifetime Meritorious Achievement Award from the Texas Bandmasters Association in July 2017. His affiliations include ASCAP, Phi Beta Mu, TMEA, TBA, TMAA, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the Lamar University Band Camp, the Conn-Selmer VIP program, and the Texas Tech Band and Orchestra Camp where he has been on the staff for over 30 consecutive years. He is a background vocalist for the “shoo-bop” group JC and The Cruisers. Gabe resides in the Houston suburb of Tomball with his wife Alice, also a Red Raider alum, and their cat, Shiva. Their son, Alex, is a graduate of Texas A & M – Corpus Christi.
About Carolyn Vandiver
Carolyn Vandiver has been teaching orchestra in Texas public schools since 1972. She was one of the four founders of the Arlington ISD String Program. She has served as director of orchestras at Stephen F. Austin High School in Fort Bend ISD since the school opened in 1995. Austin opened with 16 string students but now has 198 string players. Her orchestras have earned sweepstakes in the University Interscholastic League (UIL) competition for 38 consecutive years and have been awarded over 100 Sweepstakes awards. Austin has performed three times at the Midwest Clinic (Chicago), Carnegie Hall (NYC), and in Europe (Vienna, Salzburg, Prague). They were the first orchestra to play at a National League Baseball Game, performing for the Houston Astros. One-hundred-forty six AHS Orchestra Students have been accepted and performed in the Texas All-State Orchestras.
She was a founding member and manager of the elite chamber orchestra, “Virtuosi of Houston,” that celebrates its 21st season this year. She frequently gives Region and Recruiting Workshops, Orchestra Presentations for Music Conventions and Teacher in services. The Houston Texans Football Team and First Community Credit Union selected her as one of their twelve “Stars in the Classroom” last year.
Previously, she served as the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) vice-president and orchestra division chair. Currently, she is the state chair of the Tri-M National Music Honor Society. University Interscholastic League awarded her the title of UIL Outstanding Sponsor in the State of Texas; this included both academic and elective teachers. She also serves as a UIL Orchestra Contest Adjudicator for the state of Texas.
Mrs. Vandiver also is co-conductor of the String Orchestra of the Houston Youth Symphony, a position that she has held for nineteen years. She delights in watching the growth of so many incredible young musicians. One of her greatest joys in life is assisting students to transitioning into adulthood and helping them become responsible young people with stellar character and a remarkable work ethic. Many of her former students are now professional musicians and orchestra directors. All four of her children played in orchestra (HYS), and her three daughters are professional musicians and graduates of the New England Conservatory of Music. She has been married to Jack L. Vandiver, a high school choir director, for 42 years. They are involved, active members in their church.
About the Houston Symphony
During the 2016-17 season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its third 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 87 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. For tickets and more information, please visit www.houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.