Arts and Culture

Theater District Open House: A Houston Symphony Musician’s Behind-The-Scenes Look At The New Season

Percussionist Matthew Strauss takes us backstage, on-stage and into the audience with an intimate preview of 2016-2017

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  • Houston Symphony in concert (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Houston Symphony)
    Houston Symphony in concert (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Houston Symphony)
  • Houston Symphony Music Director, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, at Jones Hall (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Houston Symphony)
    Houston Symphony Music Director, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, at Jones Hall (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Houston Symphony)
  • Houston Symphony percussionist, Matthew Strauss (Photo Credit: Eric Arbiter)
    Houston Symphony percussionist, Matthew Strauss (Photo Credit: Eric Arbiter)
  • Percussionist Matthew Strauss in the Houston Public Media studios
    Percussionist Matthew Strauss in the Houston Public Media studios
  • Houston Symphony's Musical Instrument Petting Zoo at Theater District Open House (Photo Credit: Jeff Fitlow)
    Houston Symphony's Musical Instrument Petting Zoo at Theater District Open House (Photo Credit: Jeff Fitlow)
  • Jones Hall, Home of the Houston Symphony (Photo Credit: Jeff Fitlow)
    Jones Hall, Home of the Houston Symphony (Photo Credit: Jeff Fitlow)
  • Sir Ben Kingsley will narrate Prokoviev's "Peter and the Wolf" on the Houston Symphony's Opening Night Concert on Sept. 17, 2016. (Photo Credit: By SbclickUploaded by MyCanon (Ben Kingsley) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Sir Ben Kingsley will narrate Prokoviev's "Peter and the Wolf" on the Houston Symphony's Opening Night Concert on Sept. 17, 2016. (Photo Credit: By SbclickUploaded by MyCanon (Ben Kingsley) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
  • Legendary, multi-award-winning violinist, Itzhak Perlman, is both guest soloist and conductor for the Houston Symphony's Jones Hall 50th Anniversary Concert on Oct. 22, 2016. (Photo Credit: Lisa Marie Mazzucco)
    Legendary, multi-award-winning violinist, Itzhak Perlman, is both guest soloist and conductor for the Houston Symphony's Jones Hall 50th Anniversary Concert on Oct. 22, 2016. (Photo Credit: Lisa Marie Mazzucco)
  • Grammy Award-winning cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, performs Dvorak's Cello Concerto with the Houston Symphony on Feb. 4, 2017. (Photo Credit: Michael J. Lutch)
    Grammy Award-winning cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, performs Dvorak's Cello Concerto with the Houston Symphony on Feb. 4, 2017. (Photo Credit: Michael J. Lutch)

"What's great about Opening Night is you have the most beautiful gowns, especially in Houston. I'd say more than most cities, people really like to get themselves dressed up ... everyone looks fantastic, and it gets us charged up as well," says Houston Symphony percussionist Matthew Strauss about what it's like to peer into the audience from the stage just before the downbeat of the first concert of the season.

As an "insider's guide to the new season," Matthew Strauss sits down to reveal what it takes for a Houston Symphony musician to prepare for a brand-new season of concerts – from seeing the schedule for the first time to practicing over the summer – and what the vibe is both back stage and on-stage on the Big Night. He also shares personal insights on upcoming concerts, including memories and anecdotes about working with classical music superstars, Gil Shaham and Yo-Yo Ma, who are both returning as guest soloists this season.

The Houston Symphony's 2016-2017 season will begin on September 17 at Jones Hall with the Opening Night Concert and Gala, featuring legendary actor, Sir Ben Kingsley, as the narrator in the orchestra's performance of Sergei Prokofiev's beloved musical tale, Peter and the Wolf.

Meet Houston Symphony musicians, interact with their Musical Instrument Petting Zoo for families and children, attend a Conducting 101 Session, get information about season subscriptions, and even hear a free concert performed by the full orchestra at the 23rd Annual TransCanada Theater District Open House, this Sunday, August 28th. Houston Symphony activities will take place in Jones Hall.

Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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