HOUSTON – March 21, 2018 – The music in the Spring High School band hall stops suddenly as the conductor praises the students’ performance. He takes advantage of the pause to engage the students in a discussion of the challenges of performing this difficult passage of music.
“What they are doing is really pretty close to being at a professional level,” said Maestro Robert Franz, after stepping in as a guest conductor for the session. Franz knows what it takes to perform professionally. He is the associate conductor for the Houston Symphony Orchestra, and he has brought four of the Symphony’s musicians with him to work with the students.
Spring High School is a Houston Symphony Residency School. Every two weeks, members of the Grammy Award winning Houston Symphony work with the school’s band members, offering advice and guidance. Violinist Rainel Joubert is a Houston Symphony Community Embedded Musician and a regular at Spring High School. He says his goal is to promote critical thinking about music and creating connections with the student musicians.
“I come and talk about music and do a little bit of clinics with the students and we are just learning together. I learn from them and I hope they learn from me, too,” said Joubert.
Spring High School Head Band Director Gabe Musella says the program provides his students with invaluable experiences with these world-class musicians.
“I’m a big sports fan and I always tell the kids, that this is like Altuve coming from the Houston Astros to work out with our baseball team. It is just an amazing opportunity,” said Musella.
At a recent session, Franz wraps up the class, which has been punctuated with input from each of the visiting Symphony musicians. Stepping down from the conductor’s platform he tells the band, “That was pretty darned awesome!”
“I work with bands and orchestras around North America and this is one of the top high school bands that I have heard. The way that they are making sounds, the kind of sounds that they are making and the way that they think about music is at a very high level,” said Franz.
Spring ISD Performing and Visual Arts Director Joe Clark said that this collaboration will propel the students to an even higher level of performance. “We are really excited to have this incredible partnership with the Houston Symphony, and these experiences are so beneficial for our young musicians,” said Clark
The Houston Symphony’s Community Embedded Musician Initiative was created in 2015. The embedded musicians are full-time salaried players who perform on stage with the Houston Symphony. This is Spring High School’s second year of involvement with the program. In addition to their continuing work with the students, the Houston Symphony will be returning to Spring High School to perform a free concert on Wednesday, June 6.