News

July 23, 2015

NWS Alumnus and Fellow Win New Community Positions With Houston Symphony

Two members of the New World Symphony family--a recent alumnus and a current Fellow--were selected as half of the quartet that will lead a new initiative for the Houston Symphony, focused on enhancing the institution's educational and community engagement activities, while also performing with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. 

Read the Houston Symphony's media release below about this pioneering approach, or click here to hear a short feature on Houston Public Radio about the initiative. 

July 28, 2015:   The Hous­ton Sym­phony announced today that it has suc­cess­fully recruited four string musi­cians to be part of a new ini­tia­tive announced ear­lier this year to embed musi­cians more deeply in the com­mu­nity. The four musicians/educators will focus on enhanc­ing the orchestra’s grow­ing edu­ca­tion and com­mu­nity engage­ment activ­i­ties while also per­form­ing on stage for select Hous­ton Sym­phony performances.

Jenna Bargh­outi (vio­lin), David D. Con­nor (dou­ble bass), Anthony Parce (viola), and Hellen Weber­pal (cello) are part of the first group of Hous­ton Sym­phony Community-Embedded Musi­cians who will spend most of their time in schools, neigh­bor­hoods and health care set­tings, begin­ning in the fall of 2015. Each one of these musi­cians is a prac­tic­ing pro­fes­sional musi­cian with the com­ple­men­tary skills and sen­si­bil­i­ties of an edu­ca­tor, who will teach and engage peo­ple in learn­ing expe­ri­ences in, through, and about music.

“I, together with Music Direc­tor Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the entire Hous­ton Sym­phony fam­ily, am excited to wel­come these new musi­cians. They will fill an unprece­dented and crit­i­cal role in extend­ing the Hous­ton Symphony’s impact deeper into the com­mu­nity,” said Exec­u­tive Director/CEO Mark C. Han­son. “I look for­ward to watch­ing them in action with stu­dents and com­mu­nity mem­bers while also hear­ing them together with the full orches­tra for select con­certs dur­ing the upcom­ing 2015–16 season.”

Among other new and expanded com­mu­nity activ­i­ties, these musi­cians will be part of a music and well­ness pro­gram aimed at increas­ing the qual­ity of health care through music. In addi­tion, they will be heav­ily involved in edu­ca­tion pro­grams tar­geted at improv­ing prob­lem solv­ing, crit­i­cal think­ing, and essen­tial life skills in students.

“I could not be more thrilled to be part of the inau­gural year of the Hous­ton Symphony’s Community-Embedded Musi­cians pro­gram. I am grate­ful for the oppor­tu­nity to be work­ing with such bril­liant musi­cians and staff, and for such a spe­cial oppor­tu­nity in a lead­ing Amer­i­can orches­tra,” said Anthony. “Putting so much empha­sis and so many resources toward fos­ter­ing per­form­ing teach­ing artists is unprece­dented in the orches­tral land­scape. This is exactly the kind of activ­ity that will make orches­tras rel­e­vant in the 21st century.”

All four Community-Embedded Musi­cians will per­form on stage with mem­bers of the Sym­phony in approx­i­mately 25 con­certs each year. The orches­tra intends to add more of these musi­cians over the next two sea­sons, pro­vid­ing ever-increasing lev­els of ser­vice and music edu­ca­tion to the rapidly grow­ing Hous­ton region.

Dou­ble bassist David Con­nor has worked with chil­dren with neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders through res­i­den­cies he com­pleted at the Monarch School as a fel­low of the Da Cam­era of Hous­ton Young Artist Pro­gram. He also has expe­ri­ence work­ing with stu­dents abroad while serv­ing as a guest teacher in the New World Symphony’s cul­tural exchange with the Medel­lín Phil­har­monic Acad­emy (AMFED). Con­nor also works with Clas­si­cal Rev­o­lu­tion, an inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tion that engages the com­mu­nity by offer­ing cham­ber music per­for­mances in highly acces­si­ble venues such as cafes, bars and clubs. Con­nor began under­grad­u­ate stud­ies at the Peabody Insti­tute before trans­fer­ring to Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­sity where he earned his Bach­e­lor of Fine Arts. Con­nor earned his Mas­ters of Music at Rice University’s Shep­herd School of Music.

Vio­list Anthony Parce, also a for­mer mem­ber of the New World Sym­phony, has been extremely active in recent years in the institution’s com­mu­nity engage­ment pro­grams, includ­ing the New World Symphony’s cul­tural exchange pro­gram with AMFED. A flu­ent Spanish-speaker, Parce is pas­sion­ate about cre­at­ing con­nec­tions, break­ing down soci­etal bar­ri­ers and empow­er­ing com­mu­ni­ties through music. An expe­ri­enced edu­ca­tor, he has worked with peo­ple of all ages, from pre-K stu­dents through seniors, and with peo­ple from all walks of life, par­tic­u­larly those who are under­served and lack oppor­tu­ni­ties to engage with music. Parce holds degrees from the New Eng­land Con­ser­va­tory and Rice University’s Shep­herd School of Music, study­ing with James Dun­ham, Roger Tap­ping and Karen Ritscher.

In con­trast to term-limited or struc­tured fel­low­ship or train­ing pro­grams, the new Community-Embedded Musi­cians are full-time, per­ma­nent, salaried employ­ees of the Hous­ton Sym­phony, and they will become part of the cadre of musi­cians who appear on stage and through­out the com­mu­nity. While exist­ing Hous­ton Sym­phony musi­cians spend about 80% of their time on stage as part of the orchestra’s robust sched­ule of clas­si­cal, pops, fam­ily, stu­dent and com­mu­nity con­certs, these Community-Embedded Musi­cians will do the oppo­site: They will devote the major­ity of their time to off-stage edu­ca­tion and com­mu­nity pro­grams through indi­vid­ual and small ensem­ble work in schools, neigh­bor­hoods and health care settings.

These four indi­vid­u­als were selected after a rig­or­ous month-long audi­tion and inter­view process that drew more than 100 appli­cants from across the coun­try. Can­di­dates for these four new posi­tions were required to be accom­plished string play­ers with a demon­strated pas­sion and apti­tude for edu­ca­tion and com­mu­nity engage­ment work. Addi­tion­ally, can­di­dates who met the main qual­i­fi­ca­tions and also spoke more than one lan­guage were highly encour­aged to apply to help bet­ter reflect the diverse make up of Houston.

The selec­tion process involved live audi­tions before com­mit­tees com­prised of Hous­ton Sym­phony musi­cians, class­room les­son demon­stra­tions with stu­dents from Cre­spo Ele­men­tary School, and in-person inter­views with admin­is­tra­tive and musi­cian lead­er­ship. Can­di­dates were selected based on a com­bi­na­tion of excep­tional musi­cal abil­ity, pas­sion for and expe­ri­ence doing work in the com­mu­nity and in edu­ca­tional set­tings, along with supe­rior com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills.

David Con­nor was born in Chelms­ford, MA and began play­ing the dou­ble bass when he was nine years old. He joins the Hous­ton Sym­phony as a Community-Embedded Musi­cian after two sea­sons with the New World Sym­phony in Miami Beach, FL. Con­nor earned his Bach­e­lor of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­sity and his Mas­ters of Music at Rice University’s Shep­herd School of Music. While at Rice, he was a fel­low of the Da Cam­era of Hous­ton Young Artist Pro­gram for two sea­sons, which led to many com­mu­nity out­reach oppor­tu­ni­ties and cham­ber music col­lab­o­ra­tions in the greater Hous­ton area. Con­nor has par­tic­i­pated in sum­mer fes­ti­vals includ­ing Music Acad­emy of the West, Aspen, Sara­sota, Domaine For­get, and the Brit­ten Pears Young Artist Pro­gram. He has been a recip­i­ent of the Aspen Acad­emy Orches­tra Fel­low­ship and was cho­sen in 2011 to be a mem­ber of the New York String Orches­tra Sem­i­nar at Carnegie Hall under the direc­tion of Jaime Laredo. As a mem­ber of the New World Sym­phony, he has had the oppor­tu­nity to teach dou­ble bass both at home and abroad, trav­el­ing to Medel­lín, Colom­bia and Geneva, Switzer­land in 2014.

Anthony Parce has dis­tin­guished him­self as a vio­list intent on con­firm­ing the vivac­ity of clas­si­cal music in the 21st cen­tury. Dur­ing his four-year fel­low­ship at the New World Sym­phony, Parce orga­nized and pro­duced three inter­ac­tive con­cert for­mats, lec­tured and per­formed on the early works and life of Arnold Schoen­berg, pro­duced a com­mem­o­ra­tion of Kristall­nacht with nar­ra­tion by local Holo­caust sur­vivors, trav­elled many times to Medel­lín, Colom­bia, to teach through the Salu­dArte Foun­da­tion, helped develop the Symphony’s vir­tual library (Musaic), and took an active civic role in refin­ing the cur­ricu­lum and activ­i­ties of New World Fel­lows. Parce has attended the Ver­bier, Schleswig-Holstein, Tan­gle­wood, Artos­phere, and Britten-Piers sum­mer fes­ti­vals, as well as the National Orches­tral Insti­tute, Domaine For­get and the Music Acad­emy of the West. He holds degrees from the New Eng­land Con­ser­va­tory and Rice University’s Shep­herd School of Music, study­ing with James Dun­ham, Roger Tap­ping and Karen Ritscher.

Click here to read the full press release on the Houston Symphony's website.

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