Thousands of people attend performances by the Houston Symphony each year, but not everyone has the chance to go backstage, attend a dress rehearsal and hear stories and history straight from musicians and those on the “inside.” Ginny Garrett, lead instructor for “Celebrating 100 Years with the Houston Symphony,” gave us a little bit of the scoop on this course and what the Houston Symphony is up to during this exciting centennial year.
How did you first get connected to the Houston Symphony?
In high school, I used to sneak into Saturday morning Houston Symphony rehearsals with other student musicians after our Houston Youth Symphony practices ended. But officially, my first connection was when I played my first concert with the Houston Symphony in November of 1959 under the baton of Leopold Stokowski.
I am now a volunteer archivist and served as a contributing author for the new book about the Houston Symphony called “Fine Tuning: Celebrating a Century of Music.”
What do you think surprises people the most after meeting a member of the symphony or taking a backstage tour?
People are often surprised to discover the multi-dimensional personality of individual musicians. Someone who is known exclusively as a flutist or violinist emerges as someone with hobbies and families and shared interests. I’ve also noticed that when people have the chance to go backstage for a tour (as we will in this course), one of the “wow” moments is standing on the stage proscenium and looking out at the three levels of red seats – seeing the view from the orchestra’s vantage point.
What are some special highlights about the Houston Symphony right now?
The 13-14 season is extraordinary with all the unique centennial events going on. So far we have held the 100th Birthday Concert at Miller, then the Day of Music at Jones Hall and look forward to a glamorous Opening Night, a once in a century Centennial Ball, a commemorative commission, a lineup of classical music guest artist stars and former music directors who are household names, and the rare excitement of introducing an outstanding 21st century talent to the Houston podium – Maestro Andres Orozco-Estrada.
What are you most looking forward to about the course?
I can’t wait to meet motivated people who are interested in finding a deeper and more varied understanding of the Houston Symphony. I hope to foster that interest by sharing my stories and those of the guest speakers who each bring a different perspective of the orchestra. My goal is to enrich the concert-going experience in a special way. We’re going to have fun while learning – a pretty great combination.