The Houston Symphony’s February calendar promises renowned conductor and Houston favorite Fabien Gabel leading an intriguing all-French program highlighted by Francis Poulenc’s Sinfonietta, as well as a striking new, multi-sensory way to experience classical music in the Bank of America POPS Series. Both concerts are available for both in-person and livestream audiences with tickets now available at houstonsymphony.org/2021season.
Known for his way with French repertoire, French conductor Fabien Gabel, music director of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, returns to the Symphony to lead the orchestra in Fabien Gabel Conducts French Masterworks, part of the Frost Bank Gold Classics Series, Feb. 5–7. Recognized internationally as one of the brightest stars of his generation, Gabel is a regular guest of the Houston Symphony and an audience favorite. The program opens with a new work by young French composer Camille Pépin, one of the most successful rising young composers. Avant les clartés de l’aurore (“Before the Light of Dawn”) beautifully illustrates Pépin’s characteristic evocation of images in sound, here drawing inspiration from a Romantic poem by Alexander Pushkin. Next, the Symphony continues to explore modern French repertoire in a performance of Henri Tomasi’s Fanfares liturgiques that showcases the brass and percussion sections. To close out the program, Gabel leads the orchestra in Francis Poulenc’s Sinfonietta, a lively work full of dance rhythms that spotlights the orchestra’s virtuosity. This performance is livestreamed on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 8 p.m. CST.
Feb. 13 & 14, the Houston Symphony continues its Bank of America POPS Series with the premiere of a new multi-sensory way to experience classical music along with Austin-based artist and dancer Topher Sipes in Virtual Reality in Concert: Music Illustrated. Led by guest conductor Ming Luke, the first full-length orchestra concert of its kind, the cutting-edge program uses Google’s Tilt Brush technology to create life-size 3D images via virtual reality in real time onstage, choreographed to music. Sipes explains: “During the concert, I am onstage creating expressive artwork in real time using the Tilt Brush. I love to dance to music, particularly instrumental music. I treat the virtual canvas like a dance floor upon which to express 3D artifacts of my hands’ movements. I approach visual art tools as ‘visual instruments’ where my ear’s sensitivity to rhythm and melody is integral to the creative process.” The musical program includes “Aquarium” from Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, Debussy’s Claire de Lune, and Borodin’s famed “Polovtsian Dances” from the opera Prince Igor (adapted to the Broadway stage in the musical Kismet). This performance is livestreamed on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. CST. No VR headset or special glasses required.
In-person and livestream tickets are now available for these performances at houstonsymphony.org/2021season. Each livestream performance is available via a private link to ticket holders for $20, and livestream subscribers who purchase a package of tickets receive an additional 25% discount. For patrons attending in person, concerts will continue to have a one-hour run time with no intermission, and food and beverage service will be suspended to eliminate crowding. For a comprehensive list of safety measures, visit houstonsymphony.org/safety. For tickets and information, please call 713.224.7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. All programs and artists are subject to change.
The Classical Series, sponsored by the Robert Cizik Family, is endowed by the Wortham Foundation, Inc., in memory of Gus S. and Lyndall F. Wortham. Livestream of Houston Symphony concerts is made possible by Barbara J. Burger.
FABIEN GABEL CONDUCTS FRENCH MASTERWORKS
Friday, February 5, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 6, at 8 p.m. *
Sunday, February 7, at 2:30 p.m.
Fabien Gabel, conductor
Camille Pepín: Avant les clartés de l’aurore
Tomasi: Fanfares liturgiques
VIRTUAL REALITY IN CONCERT: MUSIC ILLUSTRATED
Saturday, February 13, at 8 p.m. *
Sunday, February 14, at 2:30 p.m.
Ming Luke, conductor
Topher Sipes, artist
*Livestreamed at 8 p.m. CST