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Texas Music Festival takes shape in June

May 23, 2019

Music lovers have to go no further than the University of Houston and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion this June to see rising stars share their talents at the Immanuel & Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival.

The festival is gearing up for its 30th anniversary season of concerts from June 1-29 at the Moores School of Music Moores Opera House (Saturdays, June 8, 15, 22 and 29) and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands (Friday, June 7). The opening weekend concert will feature Texas Music Festival and UH Alum Kenny Broberg, 2017 as guest soloist performing Rachmaninoff: “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” and will close with “Gustav Mahler: Symphony 6,” which is also referred to as “Tragic.” And there will be a wide variety of pieces in between, all from the Texas Music Festival Orchestral Institute.

“When the festival began in 1990, as the brainchild of founders Immanuel and Helen Olshan and David Tomatz, the vision was to create a world-class training program for young musicians in Houston that would provide exciting performances for the concertgoers of Houston,” said TMF General and Artistic Director Alan Austin, who played the violin in the very first festival in 1990. “In three decades we have grown from a very regional program to one that now attracts students from around the world, renowned conductors, and world-class faculty.”

Austin, a Heights resident, says TMF gives musicians the ability to learn and develop apart from their typical academic and professional work, where they concentrate on music, find inspiration and learn from other talented musicians.

Houston area musicians looking to play

While the festival actually starts on June 1, the performances will not begin until later that week because the musicians will be learning to play the music together on-site. Several Houston area musicians are looking forward to joining in, learning and having fun.

“What excites me the most about this year’s season of the Texas Music Festival is that in addition to performing some of the greatest masterworks in the orchestral repertoire, I will be able to reconnect with some of my talented colleagues in the double bass section that I’ve known since my high school years and continue to develop my musical craft alongside them,” said Double Bass Player Jonathan Keith, who is from the Spring Branch Memorial area.

Keith graduated from Memorial High School and is a rising senior at Baylor University. At 12, he earned the nickname “Bass-thoven.”

Harpist Kelsey Sham joins the festival from Sugar Land and is a Dulles High School graduate. She grew up going to the Houston Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” with her aunt, whom she credits with instilling an enduring love of music.

“When I first began playing piano as a child, I was drawn to music because it gave me a means to express the feelings that I felt couldn’t be put into words,” Sham said. “As I’ve matured both in life and in my musical studies, I’ve grown to appreciate that performing allows me to share a part of myself with others while also educating them on culture and history.”

A graduate of Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts from the Meyerland area, Trumpeter Bethany Vaughan is a rising junior at Indiana University. She said music has helped her grow both personally and professionally.

“Being a musician has definitely taught me a lot about self-discipline and time management in learning how to structure my practice time. Practicing has also taught me how to be introspective and how to focus. Playing music requires lots of collaboration, so it’s helped me learn how to best work with others.”

The 93 musicians that will perform in the Texas Music Festival Orchestral Institute were handpicked from more than 390 applicants and 22 countries. Austin encourages Houston-area residents and visitors to come out and sample some great music, right here at home.

“There is nothing like hearing great music performed at a top-notch level by young musicians — many of whom are discovering a new work for the first time — played with the passion and sense of discovery that you will hear at a TMF Orchestra concert,” Austin said. “Houstonians no longer have to travel to the great festivals around the country to hear this kind of magic … it’s right here in our own backyard.”

For more information or tickets, visit http://www.uh.edu/kgmca//music/tmf/.

tracy.maness@hcnonline.com

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