HOUSTON (Nov. 20, 2019) – Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Houston Symphony present the much-anticipated world premiere of Composer-in-Residence Jimmy López Bellido’s Symphony No. 2, Ad Astra, at 8 p.m. Dec. 5 and 7, and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 8. Saturday night attendees are invited to stay late and enjoy a complimentary after-party featuring music, specialty cocktails, and mingling with musicians as part of the evening’s post-concert activities.
Commissioned by the Houston Symphony, Ad Astra is the culmination of López’s third and final year as composer-in-residence. “I wanted it to be connected to the city of Houston,” he explained. “I decided to pay homage to the people of NASA with this symphony, which is dedicated to them. Space exploration is Houston’s gift to the world.”
Musically, the symphony is based on the Morse Code for the words “ad astra” (Latin for “to the stars”), part of a message aboard the Voyager space probes as a greeting to any space-faring aliens that might find them someday. The Symphony consists of five movements, each with a different source of inspiration. “The first four were inspired by iconic programs or missions from NASA’s history: Voyager, Apollo, Hubble, and Challenger,” Jimmy said. “The last movement, Revelation, imagines that Voyager’s message is found by distant lifeforms. All of the other movements are struggle, trying to reach the stars.”
Violin virtuoso Gil Shaham joins the second half of the program in Brahms’ classic Violin Concerto. Known for his flawless technique, Shaham interprets this beautiful and emotionally powerful masterpiece—widely considered one of the great works of the violin repertoire.
In addition, Shaham joins Houston Symphony musicians in Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet at MATCH Box 4 on Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. This program marks the opening concert of the Houston Symphony’s Chamber Music Series, which will showcase musicians and guest luminaries in intimate venues across Houston. The Houston Symphony’s Chamber Music Series is made possible in part by the generous support from: Robin Angly and Miles Smith, Nancy and Walter Bratic, Eugene Fong, Gary L. Hollingsworth and Kenneth J. Hyde, Ms. Leslie Nossaman, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Nuccio, Ed and Janet Rinehart, and Bobby and Phoebe Tudor.
Shaham Plays Brahms + López World Premiere, sponsored by Rochelle and Max Levit, Grand Guarantors, and Rand Group Great Performers, 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 houstonsymphony.org. 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.
About the Houston Symphony
During the 2019–20 season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its sixth 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 $35.2 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 1,000 community-based performances each year at various schools, community centers, hospitals, and churches reaching nearly 200,000 people in Greater Houston annually.
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.