POPS season revealed
Crazy acrobats, hot TV stars, jazz hands and an Alien queen: The Symphony shows its lighter side
Nine concerts comprise Houston Symphony's 2013-14 Cynthia Woods Mitchell POPS series at Jones Hall, the details of which Symphony officials revealed Wednesday night.
For the ensemble's centennial season, principal pops conductor Michael Krajewski has crafted classical music's lighter fare performed by a medley of celebs, divas, music groups and theatrical productions.
The season gets underway with something unusual for this 87-member orchestra. "Cirque de la Symphonie" (Aug. 30) is a concert with acrobats, jugglers, aerialists and strongmen reminiscent of the circus spectacle of the same name. Reviewers have called the program death-defying, spectacular and thrilling.
A popular offering, the symphony again revives "Very Merry Pops" (Dec. 13 to 15). A coterie of Houston's leading religious figures (awaiting final confirmation) will narrate the story of the first Christmas.
Steven Reineke, principal pops conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra, gives Krajewski a break in "Luck Be a Lady" (Nov. 15 to 17) with Megan Hilty, the star of NBC's Smash. He will revisit Jones Hall for a concert focusing on the Music of the Mad Men Era (Feb. 21 to 23, 2014).
Jazz singer and pianist Tony DeSare's "The Soundtrack of Our Lives" (Jan. 24 to 26, 2014) programs standard charts everyone knows and loves. Steve Tyrell (March 13, 2014) returns and summons some of his close friends to stage an evening of American standards, including "The Way You Look Tonight," "The Simple Life" and "Crush on You."
The stakes of the Ima Hogg Competition just got much, much higher with the addition of a $25,000 first prize.
What's a pops season without jazz hands musical theater? "100 Years of Broadway" (March 28 to 30, 2014) gathers favorites from a century's worth of tunes from the Great White Way in New York City. Trumpeter Chris Botti (April 25 to 27, 2014) will be a featured soloist in a concert in late spring.
The POPS season finale welcomes award winning actor Sigourney Weaver, who you may recognize from her roles in Alien volumes one through four, Ghostbusters and its sequel and The Ice Storm. The program, titled "Symphonic Spectacular! See the Music" (May 24 to 25, 2014), is described as an multi-scensory journey through works including Waltz of the Flowers, 1812 Overture and Flight of the Bumblebee.
And for the whole family . . .
Associate principal conductor Robert Franz invites local art presenters, including the Alley Theatre, Theatre Under the Stars, Houston Grand Opera and High School of the Visual, for the four-concert Family Series, which starts with Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf (Oct. 26), a great way to introduce anyone to the instruments of an orchestra.
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (Dec. 14) will be followed by the rodeo-themed "Wild, Wild West!" (Jan. 25, 2014) and "Belle of the Ball" (April 26, 2014), a performance teeming with tunes from Disney's Beauty and the Beast complemented by ballet dancers from HSPVA.
As it is expected from Robert Franz, expect this lively conductor to show up in quite the array of costumes.
Students and education
The stakes of the Ima Hogg Competition just got much, much higher with the addition of a $25,000 first prize. The yearly music bash presents emerging talent, ages 13-30, for the opportunity to perform as a featured guest with the Houston Symphony. The finals, set for June 1 at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, are where you can discover the next generation of classical music rock stars.
The Houston Symphony is expanding its partnership with local youth orchestras. The first annual Youth Orchestra Festival in March 2014 will feature performances by the Houston Youth Symphony and Virtuosi of Houston. The Greater Houston Youth Orchestra will perform in the side-by-side education concert in February 2014.