classical and chill

Houston Symphony unveils new 'living room' virtual concert series

Houston Symphony unveils new 'living room' virtual concert series

Houston Symphony
Enjoy personalized Houston Symphony concerts — and accompanying cocktails — from the comfort of your home. Photo courtesy of Houston Symphony

Dealing with the daily challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic can be trying and grating, making the search for something soothing downright essential. To the rescue comes the Houston Symphony, which has announced a new series to help harried Houstonians chill.

Appropriately dubbed the Living Room Series, the new symphony program runs Fridays at 8 pm. The hour-long livestream spotlights an individual Houston Symphony musician, and in some cases, musician members of their household, performing at home.

The recitals reflect the personalities of the individual musicians, bringing the audience into their homes to hear performances curated by them, according to the symphony. Each concert also features remarks by that week’s musician, and concludes with a Q&A from audience members.

Each week’s performance is now on sale for $10 online at houstonsymphony.org; those who purchase tickets will receive a private link. Here is the schedule of performances provided by the symphony:

May 1
Principal keyboard, Scott Holshouser, kicks off the series performing a recital from his home along with his son, vocalist Sean Holshouser. The evening’s program includes music from Chopin, Mozart, Schumann, Debussy, and an improvisation on Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

May 8
Houston Symphony principal clarinet, Mark Nuccio, will perform a transcription of Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy for Piano, two short pieces by Debussy, and several solo clarinet showpieces in an homage to Richard Strauss. Nuccio selected pieces from different regions of the world in hopes that the audience may be inspired to pair their favorite wines, spirits, or cuisine with each piece.

May 15
Principal cello, Brinton Averil Smith, will be joined by his pianist wife and frequent collaborator, Evelyn Chen, and his vocalist daughter Calista, for a selection of short works inspired by the recordings of the legendary cellist Emanuel Feuermann. Composers on the program include Albéniz, Sarasate, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Handel.

May 22
Associate principal viola, Joan DerHovsepian, will be joined by her husband, Houston Grand Opera Orchestra bassist, Erik Gronfor, as well as their violinist daughter, Clara, in a program that includes works for solo viola from the Baroque to the Romantic periods, as well as a duo for viola and bass, and several short pieces for the family trio.

Meanwhile, the symphony’s Nuccio offers up these cocktail recipes to pair with the performances (frankly, these look appealing for any occasion):

Fröhlich (to be paired with Chromatic Fantasy, Johann Sebastian Bach)

  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • Jägermeister 
  • Brut Sekt (German Sparkling Wine)

Place a sugar cube on a small plate. Douse the sugar cube with Jägermeister.  Fill a champagne flute with the Sekt (4 oz or so). Carefully drop the Jägermeister-drenched sugar cube into the drink. No garnish.

Widow's Kiss (to be paired with Deux Arabesques, Claude Debussy)

  • 1.5 oz Calvados
  • .75 oz Yellow Chartreuse
  • .75 oz Benedictine D.O.M Liqueur
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Luxardo Maraschino Cherry

Pour the liquids into a mixing glass. Stir with lots of ice for 40 revolutions and strain into a chilled coupe (cocktail glass). Drop the cherry into the drink.

Into the Woods ( to be paired with Hommage for Solo Clarinet, Richard Strauss)

  • 2.25 oz Gin, preferably St. George Terroir Gin
  • .75 oz Vodka, preferably St. George All Purpose Vodka
  • .5 oz Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps (if not available, try Yellow or Green Chartreuse)
  • Rosemary Sprig

Pour the liquids into a mixing glass. Stir with lots of ice for 40 revolutions and strain into a chilled coupe (cocktail glass). Place the rosemary sprig in the drink.

El Presidente (to be paired with Lecuonerias from The Cape Cod Files, Paquito D'Riveria)

  • 1.5 oz Aged Spanish-Style Rum
  • .75 oz Blanc Vermouth, preferably Dolin
  • .5 oz Dry Curaçao, preferably Pierre Ferrand
  • A Barspoon of Grenadine, if not homemade, use Liber and Co
  • Orange peel
  • Luxardo Maraschino Cherry

Pour the liquids into a mixing glass. Stir with lots of ice for 40 revolutions and strain into a chilled coupe (cocktail glass). Express the orange peel over the top of the drink and discard. Drop the cherry into the drink.