HOUSTON SYMPHONY NAMES ANDRÉS OROZCO-ESTRADA NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR

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Andres_Orozco_Estrada_photo_credit_Julie Soefer

IMG Artists is thrilled to announce that Andrés Orozco-Estrada has been named Music Director of the Houston Symphony.  The announcement was made Wednesday, 16th January by Houston Symphony President Robert A. Peiser and Executive Director and CEO Mark C. Hanson in front of several hundred people including the orchestra, staff, board, media and Houston’s Mayor, the Honorable Annise D. Parker.  The announcement was also simulcast online.

Orozco-Estrada, who will occupy the Roy and Lillie Cullen Chair, will serve as Music Director Designate during the 2013-14 season and begin a five-year contract in the 2014-15 season.

“What an exciting moment in my life as a conductor and musician to be joining the Houston Symphony family as its next Music Director,” said Orozco-Estrada.  “I feel such a strong connection with the musicians and know that our relationship will be a very special one that produces beautiful and memorable performances for our audience.  My focus will be on creating exceptional performances for our audiences, exciting and engaging as much of the community as possible, and raising the visibility and profile of the Houston Symphony throughout Houston and the world.”

Mayor Parker said, “The City of Houston is thrilled to welcome Andrés as Music Director of our world-class Houston Symphony.  Houston is a city filled with dynamic, talented, hard-working, and optimistic people.  I congratulate the Houston Symphony for finding a Music Director who shares those traits and whose personal story fits right into our widely diverse and international community.”

The Symphony's Executive Director and CEO Mark C. Hanson said, “During our search process, the Houston Symphony has had the privilege of working with many, very talented conductors.  What immediately stood out about Andrés was his ability to inspire the orchestra to play at their absolute best. He will bring incredible energy, exemplary conducting technique, deep musical knowledge, exceptional communication skills, youthful exuberance and a strong commitment to broadening our audience base.”

"We have found a rising conducting superstar, and I am so proud of the search committee and the full orchestra who worked collaboratively throughout this very important process," said Symphony Board President Robert A. Peiser.  “Andrés is an exceptional musician who will excite our diverse community about live symphonic music and help expand our already substantial community programs.  Building upon the tremendous accomplishments of Music Director Hans Graf, he will lead the Houston Symphony into its second century of sensational performances.”

The selection caps a three-year pursuit led by a 12-member search committee comprised of Houston Symphony musicians, board members and staff.   The musicians were leading partners during the search, providing valuable feedback on every guest conductor.  Orozco-Estrada only recently debuted with the Houston Symphony in October 2012, but the connection was immediate.

“The chemistry between Andrés and the musicians was off the charts,” said Justice Brett Busby, chair of the search committee and vice president of Artistic Affairs for the Houston Symphony Board of Trustees. “Following his debut with us in October, the orchestra asked that we immediately bring him back to further test the compatibility.  Andrés was able to fly back within a month for a two day trip – completely under the radar – and the result was even more positive.”

“I immediately felt a striking and energizing chemistry between Andrés and the orchestra,” said Principal Second Violin Jennifer Owen.  “There was an overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic response from the musicians during his first week with us, and if anything, the musicians were more excited following our second encounter with him.  We are looking forward to some thrilling performances for the orchestra and audience alike in the years ahead!”

Nicholas Matthias, Senior Vice President of IMG Artists and Orozco-Estrada’s general manager said, "In my experience, I cannot recall a conductor who in making his debut with an orchestra (and in this case also his official US debut)  results in the conductor being immediately offered the Music Director position - certainly it is a very rare occurrence indeed. I have no doubt at all that in choosing Andrés Orozco-Estrada as its next Music Director, the Houston Symphony and its audiences can look forward to what I am sure is going to be a wonderful musical partnership in the years ahead. Andrés has a real and natural talent for radiating the joy of making music - both with the musicians and also to the audience and this will be clearly evident to Houston concert goers and audiences at large once Andrés takes up the Music Director position next year.”

Orozco-Estrada's appointment comes at a uniquely exciting time for the Houston Symphony.  Current Music Director Hans Graf will relinquish the post in May following twelve successful years that included several high-profile Carnegie Hall performances, acclaimed recordings and international tours to the United Kingdom and Moscow. After his farewell, Graf will continue as Conductor Laureate of the Houston Symphony during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. On February 6, the Symphony will announce its full Centennial Season lineup of concerts, community programs, and special events that will begin on June 1 and continue through May 31, 2014.

Orozco-Estrada will become the 16th music director in the Houston Symphony’s near 100-year history.  His predecessors include such notables as Leopold Stokowski (1955-61), Sir John Barbirolli (1961-67), Sir André Previn (1967-69), Lawrence Foster (1971-78), Sergiu Comissiona (1979-88), Christoph Eschenbach (1988-99) and Graf whose twelve-year tenure (2001-2013) makes him the longest serving music director in the orchestra’s history.

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Andrés Orozco-Estrada, 35, was born in Medellin, Colombia and began his musical studies in violin.  He first conducted at age 15 when he was asked to lead his youth orchestra.  At 19 years old, and speaking only Spanish, Orozco-Estrada traveled alone to Vienna in pursuit of futhering his studies at the renowned Vienna Music Academy.  He studied with Uroš Lajovic, pupil of the legendary Hans Swarowsky (student of Felix Weingartner, Richard Strauss, Schoenberg and Webern) and completed his degree with distinction, conducting the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra at the Vienna Musikverein.  He is currently Music Director of Vienna’s Tonkünstler Orchestra and, until May 2013, Principal Conductor of San Sebastián’s Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi.

Orozco-Estrada made his debut with the Vienna Philharmonic in the Musikverein in 2010 replacing Esa-Pekka Salonen, and in 2012 he returned to replace Riccardo Muti. Both performances received critical praise with Orozco-Estrada proclaimed a “brilliant stand-in” (Wiener Zeitung), an “eminent talent” (Die Presse), “a stand-in worth his weight in gold” (Kurier) and “an inspired master of communication” (Der Standard).  He will return to guest conduct a week of subscription concerts in the 13/14 season.

Andrés is a dynamic young conductor, intensely musical, technically consummate, and detailed in his preparation and rehearsals. In concert, he radiates on the podium and has a special talent for sharing his admiration of music with his audience.  Off the podium, he is sincere, warm and approachable.  A natural communicator, Orozco-Estrada is fluent in Spanish, German and English.  He is the Houston Symphony’s first Hispanic music director.

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