Texas Music Festival commences with celebratory opening

The 24th Annual Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival celebrated its grand opening with an orchestra concert Saturday evening at the Moores Opera House.

UH director of orchestra and guest conductor Franz Anton Krager led the ensemble through several famous compositions. He showcased English composer Benjamin Britten’s “Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury,” selections from Tchaikovsky’s ballet suite, Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” and other pieces.

International musical students visited the UH campus to engage in Houston’s community for a month of festivities as the TMF performers were energetic, resonant and focused.

Music education senior Nicholas Brooks listened to the performers and said he enjoyed his musical experience.

“I love ‘The Rite of Spring.’ It’s something that always grabs your attention,” Brooks said. “They’re good musicians, and they performed it well.”

Guest percussionists Matthew Strauss and Ted Atkatz performed Mark-Anthony Turnage’s double concerto. The hand-beaten bass drums and plethora of cymbals cracked the silent opera house.

“I’m not a huge percussion fan, but the beginning was really cool,” Brooks said. “Overall, this was a great opening concert, and I’m wondering what they’re going to do in the next ones.”

Performing in new environments with different ensembles is a common challenge to TMF musicians. University of Georgia alumna Leah Craft was an oboist in the orchestra.

“I’ve never played with this ensemble before, but we could all play one sound, which was amazing,” Craft said. “Putting Turnage’s piece and ‘The Rite of Spring’ in the same concert was a big deal because they’re two dynamic pieces.”

New England Conservatory double bass performance senior Brian McAnally enjoyed the cohesiveness of the orchestra.

“We’re all experienced musicians,” McAnally said. “It was a matter of getting together, getting the music and diving right in.”

Performer and percussion student at George Mason University Virginia Dylan Barber was surprised at the level of professionalism at the TMF.

“This is a really nice, organized festival,” Barber said. “They treat everyone well.”

With only a week to rehearse the opening night’s repertoire, the young musicians tackled these complicated pieces with precision.

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