a new maestro

Globally acclaimed maestro takes the baton at Houston Symphony as new music director

Globally acclaimed maestro takes the baton at Houston Symphony

Juraj Valčuha houston symphony
Globally acclaimed Juraj Valčuha is headed to Houston. Photo by Michael Breyer

A renowned and respected global presence is taking the baton as Houston Symphony’s newest music director. Juraj Valčuha, an internationally acclaimed conductor, will lead the symphony at the start of the 2022–23 season, per an announcement.

He is the fifth music director to hold the Houston Symphony’s Roy and Lillie Cullen Chair, a position endowed in perpetuity by The Cullen Foundation, per the symphony.

Those familiar with the symphony will note that Valčuha succeeds esteemed conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada, whose tenure concludes at the end of this year’s season — after eight seasons with the orchestra.

A veteran of some of the most renowned orchestras around the world, Valčuha currently serves as music director of the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Italy and First Guest Conductor of the Konzerthausorchester in Berlin, Germany.

Aside from dotting the globe in prestigious appointments, he regularly collaborates with orchestras in Minnesota, New York, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.

Valčuha is not unfamiliar with Houston; he made his debut with the Houston Symphony as a guest conductor in 2011. He later led the orchestra during both the 2017–18 and 2020–21 seasons, with programs that included Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra, and Copland’s Clarinet Concerto.

Clearly, the maestro made an impression. The symphony reports that “musicians, trustees, and staff alike were drawn to Valčuha for his authenticity and passion, his artistic excellence, and his ability to wordlessly communicate through his deeply expressive gestures.”

The conductor will return to Houston on May 27–29, 2022, to lead the orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 Choral for the 2021–22 season finale. His first official appearance as music director will be September 17, 2022; he will then return for nine weeks of the 2022–23 season.

Expect more details will be announced in spring 2022.

“I’m honored to have been chosen as the new music director of the Houston Symphony,” said Valčuha, in a release. “It was very rewarding to conduct the symphony last March and bring joy and hope to a live audience during a difficult time. These musicians are open-minded and versatile, and I feel that we are in perfect harmony.”