Arts & Culture

Houston Symphony Pioneers New Concept In Community Outreach

The Houston Symphony has hired four community-embedded musicians. But what, exactly, does that mean?

Symphony group photo
Houston Symphony group photo. Photo courtesy of the Houston Symphony

 

Houston symphony’s Pam Blaine says their community-embedded musician initiative is part of the organization’s new strategic vision: to become the most relevant and accessible orchestra in the country. So they’ve created four positions, where the main job is to get out and interact with people outside the concert hall.

“And in order to do that, we’ve got to expand our education and community engagement programs,” she says. “We’re going to be working mostly with schools, healthcare facilities, and some social service agencies.”

Blaine explains that this is a first. Not just for Houston Symphony, but all major U.S. symphonies.

While other places may have outreach programs, there’s never been a position tailored like this: 80 percent of the musicians’ time will be spent in the community and 20 percent will be spent performing onstage. For the other musicians in the orchestra, that ratio is reversed.

David Connor
“This is one of a kind (and) the first of its kind –to have a salaried position within an orchestra for musicians to do this kind of work and also to play in the orchestra,” says double bassist David Connor, one Houston Symphony’s four new community-embedded musicians. Photo credit: DiNuzzo Photography

One of the new hires is double bassist David Connor.

“What attracted me is being able to play with the Houston Symphony — one of the best orchestras in the country and in the world ,” Connor says. “And also to be able to go out into the community and then bring more people in.”

The job openings drew more than 100 applicants from across the country. The interview process included live auditions, classroom lesson demonstrations, and face-to-face interviews with professionals in the industry.

Connor joins violist Anthony Parce, violinist Jenna Barghouti, and cellist Hellen Weberpal in the new roles. The program launches September 14th. 

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Eddie Robinson

Eddie Robinson

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A native of Mississippi, Eddie started his radio career as a 10th grader, working as a music jock for a 100,000-Watt (Pop) FM station and a Country AM station simultaneously. While the state's governor nominated him for the U.S. Naval Academy, Eddie had an extreme passion for broadcast media, particularly...

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