The Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival (TMF) brings back the star power this June, from launching its 2018 TMF Orchestra Series with “Cosmic Beginnings,” a space spectacular pairing Strauss and Holst space-themed masterpieces, to presenting Maestro Hans Graf’s first Houston guest conducting appearance since earning the prestigious Grammy Award in January.
The 29th Annual TMF “Cool & Classical” Orchestra Series, staged on four consecutive Saturday nights between June 5 and July 1, showcases the talents of classical music’s rising stars at the University of Houston (UH) Moores Opera House and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.
The Texas Music Festival is considered on par with such renowned festivals as Aspen or Tanglewood Music Festivals. Its founders, the late Immanuel and Helen Olshan, were Houstonians who loved attending summer music festivals in Colorado and New England.
The city’s largest classical presenter in June with nearly 30 performances, TMF is a one-month international music residency that brings 95 fellows from top-tier music schools and conservatories worldwide to Houston. TMF’s concerts are indoors on the UH Main Campus (Moores Opera House and Dudley Recital Hall).
The TMF Orchestra Series lifts off Saturday, June 9 (TMF Week 1) with a soaring double feature of Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30, and the seven-movement The Planets, under the baton of TMF music director and chief conductor Franz Anton Krager.
“This space-theme music program is a first for TMF and so fitting for our Space City,” said Krager, the Hourani-endowed professor of music, director of orchestras, and chair of the conducting department at UH Moores School of Music.
“Heroic Statements” takes to the stage for TMF Week 2, Saturday, June 16, with Timothy Hester as piano soloist for the Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83, with Horst Foerster making his fourth TMF guest conducting appearance.
Filling out the bill is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 Pathétique. Foerster is founder and conductor of Akademisches Orchester Leipzig, former professor of conducting of Berlin Music Academy and the former music director of Schwerin Philharmonic and Loh Orchester Sondershausen.
TMF Week 3 takes a lighter turn on Friday, June 22, 8 p.m. at Woodlands Pavilion and Saturday, June 23, 7:30 p.m. at Moores Opera House with “Dancing the Night Away,” offering such fanciful works as Turina’s Danzas Fantásticas, Op. 22; Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story; and Márquez’s Danzón No. 2.
The June 22 and 23 concerts also spotlight the student winner of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition as soloist (work TBA).
TMF guest conductor is Carlos Spierer, no stranger to Houston, having studied violin with Fredell Lack at UH prior to pursuing conducting at the Conservatory for Music in Hamburg. He attended several Master Classes including the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival with Leonard Bernstein in 1987, where he won first place in the Conducting Competition.
For TMF Week 4 on June 30, the festival welcomes the return Houston favorite Maestro Hans Graf, who holds the distinction of being the longest serving Music Director in Houston Symphony Orchestra (HSO) history. Fresh off his 2017 Grammy Award win with HSO, Graf presents “Shostakovich: First and Last,” starting with Scherzo No. 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 1.
Graf continues with Symphony No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 10 and finishes with Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarotti, Op. 145a, with bass soloist Nikolay Didenko performing.
The TMF season closes July 1, 3 p.m. with a preview concert by the MSM Concert Chorale, under the direction of Betsy Cook Weber.
More than 370 applicants from across theU.S. and 17 countries applied for the prestigious TMF Orchestral Institute, representing nearly 80 notable music institutions. The TMF Orchestra’s 95 Fellows are chosen by highly competitive live and recorded auditions.
The Festival offers the chance to win a guest soloist role through the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition, open to all TMF Orchestra fellows, with the final judging a free public event Sunday, June 10, 2 p.m. at UH Dudley Recital Hall. The winner performs with the Festival Orchestra at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands on Friday June 22, 8 p.m. and at the Moores Opera House on Saturday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. The first prize also carries an international invitation to appear as a soloist with the Akademisches Orchester in Leipzig, Germany at the esteemed Gewandhaus.
TMF also showcases the talents of its faculty artists on four faculty chamber music concerts for its PERSPECTIVES Series Tuesdays, 7:30 p.m., June 5, 12, 19, 26 at UH Dudley Recital Hall. Programs feature works including Strauss’ Don Quixote for Sextet; Schumann’s Fairy Tales featuring clarinetist Mark Nuccio; a program of American composers with works by Persichetti, Copland, Bernstein, Larsen and Ran; Kodaly’s Duo for Violin and Cello (Lucie Robert, violin and Lachezar Kostov, cello); and Dohnanyi’s Piano Quintet No. 1, among others.
For tickets and more information, log on to TMF.UH.edu or call the UH College of the Arts Box Office at 713-743-3388.