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Sunday, October 1, 2023


Moores School’s orchestra, opera and more to entertain students this fall

Like music? Like not having to leave campus to find good entertainment? Then check out the fall lineup at the Moores School of Music. Recently declared one of the nation’s top programs for creative students, the Moores School of Music has a full fall program, featuring everything from jazz ensembles to orchestra concerts and opera.

The first time UH students encounter the Moores School of Music will probably be at football games. Comprised of 14 Cougar Dolls, 40-50 cheerleaders and 300 students in the marching band, the Spirit of Houston performs at every football game, home or away. "On top of rehearsing two to three times a week, a large number of our students are involved in a jazz band, one of the three wind ensembles and a variety of small chamber groups," said John Alstrin, assistant director of the band.†"Older students can find themselves playing in four or five ensembles sometimes."

But if football isn’t your game, there’s still plenty going on at the Moores School. The orchestra, along with Aura, a contemporary music ensemble within the college, will perform pieces by and with Joan Tower, a world-renowned pianist, composer and conductor, at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 27.

The orchestra will hold a concerto competition for students at 8 p.m. on Oct. 25 in the Dudley Recital Hall. The competition is open to the public.

"This year’s divisions are piano and woodwinds," said Dominique Royem, assistant to the orchestra and a Schissler Conducting Fellow. The winner will play with the orchestra during a concert Dec.5, she said. There are 150 students in the UH orchestra, and the group is divided for events.

"Half do opera, half do chamber groups; and in spring, [we] split to do opera and the ballet academy," Royem said.

This fall’s first and only opera is Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach. The University of Houston’s very own Buck Ross, producer and director at the Edyth Bates Old Moores Opera Center, will sing it in an English translation. A parody of the original Greek myth, the opera is also renowned for producing the music recognized as the "can-can."

"(The Moores School of Music)" is one of the largest opera production programs in the nation," Ross said. Auditioning in the spring for the fall operas, "there are anywhere from 20-80 singers involved in any given production plus about 40 in the orchestra and another 15 working backstage," he said. Most of these students are from the Moores School, with some School of Theatre and Dance students "helping with makeup and costume alterations," Ross said.

The UH choirs will also perform this fall. The first concert, Hail Brittania!, is scheduled on Oct. 3 with an all-British program. The Christmas concert, a tradition at the Moores School and always worth attending, will be performed this year at the A. D. Bruce Religion Center on Dec. 3. The combined choirs will be performing the Pinkham Christmas Cantata with the Symphonic Brass.

A second Christmas concert will take place on Dec. 7 and will feature Concert Chorale performing Handel’s Messiah. What makes this concert even more special is that it will be performed with "all original instruments," Betsy Weber, director of Undergraduate Choral Studies, said.

"Old-style trumpets and oboes will be flown in," and Matthew Dirst, associate professor at the Moores School, will conduct from the harpsichord, she said.

Last but not least are various ensembles and student-run groups. Floreat, a student organized choral group, performs regularly with the UH choirs. There is also a jazz ensemble, which will be "heavily involved in the investiture (of UH President and UH System Chancellor Renu Khator) in September," said Noe Marmolejo, director of Jazz Ensembles. While there is "not a jazz focus in the school right now," there are approximately 60 students involved in the ensemble, he said.

Most Moores School of Music events cost $5 for UH students, with some special performances (such as the operas) costing slightly more. For a complete list of fall 2008 events, visit, or stop by the Moores School of Music to pick up a yearly Calendar of Events. The Moores School has a lot to offer and it would be a shame to miss such spectacular performances by UH students.

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