If music is the soundtrack of life, then between the Symphony, the opera companies, music ensembles and visiting artists, the Houston soundtrack is shaping up to be one heck of a mixtape this year.
It’s go big or go home over at Jones Hall, where the Houston Symphony will open its classical season with music director Andrés Orozco-Estrada leading more than 250 musicians in Gustav Mahler’s epic “Resurrection” symphony. This is Orozco-Estrada’s fifth season at the helm of the Symphony, and the first with newly named executive director and CEO John Mangum, but what a season they have planned, including visits from world-renowned violinists Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell, the world premiere of composer-in-residence Jimmy López’s half-violin concerto, half-light spectacle Aurora; and a semi-staged performance of Béla Bartók’s only opera, Bluebeard’s Castle.
Principal POPS conductor Steven Reineke will welcome vocalist Frankie Moreno for the Sin City-themed program Viva Las Vegas; spread holiday cheer with the ever popular Very Merry Pops; and go Totally ’80s with Mad TV’s Nicole Parker and Broadway star Aaron Finley. Reineke’s predecessor, Michael Krajewski, also returns for Cirque de la Symphonie, a symphonic night at the circus complete with acrobats, contortionists, strongmen and jugglers.
But that’s not all that’s coming to Jones Hall. Society for the Performing Arts is bringing in world-renowned pianist Roman Rabinovich, three-time Grammy Award-winner Brian Setzer and his 19-piece orchestra, and Arlo Guthrie on his Alice’s Restaurant Back By Popular Demand Tour.
Houston Grand Opera makes its triumphant, post-Harvey return to the Wortham Theater Center on September 26 with special guests Plácido Domingo, who 30 years ago christened the Wortham during HGO’s inaugural production. The season continues with new productions of Don Giovanni and The Flying Dutchman, the return of La bohème and Florencia en el Amazonas, and two premieres, The Phoenix and The Pearl Fishers.
Opera in the Heights will present Ástor Piazzolla’s tango operita, María de Buenos Aires; Mozart’s Così fan tutte; and Donizetti’s La fille du régiment, but the season highlight is a bilingual (Japanese and English) co-production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with the Los Angeles-based Pacific Opera Project.
Early music ensemble Ars Lyrica will present its first full-length, fully staged opera, George Frideric Handel’s Baroque masterpiece Agrippina. The Houston Chamber Choir, which took home the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence this year, will close its upcoming season with a first-time collaboration with Musiqa. ROCO (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra) will release its first commercial recording this fall and world-premiere at least seven new works as part of its upcoming season, “Games People Play.” And Toni Capra has been named to Da Camera’s newly created executive director role, with Sarah Rothenberg now fully embracing her role as artistic director in this, her 25th year with the organization.
With everything going on this year musically, no one will have a better time than your ears.