Rice’s Shepherd School of Music announces 2023-24 season 

Season includes more than 400 performances, features remarkable students, faculty and distinguished guest artists

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HOUSTON – (Aug. 31, 2023) – For the first time in the Shepherd School of Music’s history, a comprehensive listing of key performances is being announced today to coincide with the release of a new season brochure and redesigned events website. The Shepherd School has collected guest artists from around the globe to perform and teach this season, joining the existing ranks of renowned artists already among the faculty.

brochure“With Rice University enjoying its most selective admission year ever for incoming students, the Shepherd School continues to be a destination for some of the finest musical talent in the world,” said Shepherd School Dean Matthew Loden.

Offering more than 400 performances with programs celebrating familiar repertoire and showcasing faculty, guest artists and student soloists, the season’s theme of “Experience Extraordinary” promises to thrill campus audiences.

Highlights of this season include:

  • Six world-renowned conductors lead the Shepherd School Symphony and Chamber Orchestras in programs that celebrate core repertoire, illuminate the voices of our times and showcase Shepherd’s students, including the winners of its annual Concerto Competition.

  • Joshua Winograde, the Shepherd School’s new director of opera studies, will lead productions of “Eugene Onegin” in the fall (Stephanie Rhodes Russell, conductor) and a double bill of “Dido and Aeneas” and “The Rape of Lucretia” in the spring (Shepherd School alumnus Benjamin Manis, conductor).

  • Patrons everywhere will now have the option to watch Shepherd School Symphony and Chamber Orchestra concerts as they occur live on music.rice.edu. Free livestream broadcasts will continue for most faculty and student recitals.

  • Following each symphony orchestra performance, Shepherd School Dean Matthew Loden and guest artists will participate in engaging post-concert conversations.

  • World premiere collaborations will include “Music for New Bodies” from MacArthur Fellow and composer Matthew Aucoin and legendary opera director Peter Sellars; and “Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness,” a multidisciplinary performance inspired by James Drake’s drawing of the same title, with a score by renowned composer Gabriela Ortiz.

  • Pulitzer Prize and Grammy-winning composer Kevin Puts is this year’s Shepherd School guest composer-in-residence, with the Shepherd School Contemporary Ensemble dedicating an entire concert to his works.

  • For the first time, Shepherd School students will perform on-the-go chamber music outreach throughout the Houston community on The Concert Truck, a 16-foot box truck converted into a fully functioning mobile concert hall, complete with lights, sound system and piano.

  • Violinist Augustin Hadelich, pianist Daniil Trifonov and Ensemble Modern will visit the Shepherd School for guest artist master classes.

  • Reserved seating and select-your-own seat functionality will be available for Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and Opera performances. Tickets are now required for these performances.

“The quality of music making at the Shepherd School of Music has never been better, and we couldn’t be more excited to unveil our 2023–24 season,” Loden said. “From world premiere collaborations to free chamber music out in the community to celebrated repertoire and new voices, the Shepherd School is showcasing the best and brightest in classical music today. We can’t wait to host our beloved patrons from Houston and around the world as we present many of the most outstanding musicians of our time.”

Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra

All concerts will be held in Stude Concert Hall. Tickets are required for all performances and are “pay what you wish” (between $0 and $25 per performance).

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“Harmonious Horizons”
Sept. 29 and Sept. 30, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.

Robert Spano, conductor
Michelle Bradley, soprano

Barber’s Symphony No. 1 in One Movement and “Knoxville: Summer of 1915”
Jennifer Higdon’s “Concerto for Orchestra”

To kick off the new season, internationally renowned conductor Robert Spano leads the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra in an evening of American masterworks anchored by Jennifer Higdon’s “Concerto for Orchestra” — in the composer’s words, “truly a concerto in that it requires virtuosity from the principal players, the individual sections and the entire orchestra.” Barber’s Symphony No. 1 in One Movement runs the emotional gamut, from kinetic energy to tender beauty and sweeping, cinematic drama. Soprano Michelle Bradley joins the orchestra for Barber’s dreamy and nostalgic “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” which recounts the sights, sounds and musings of a peaceful summer evening from a child’s point of view.

“Fire Meets Ice”
Oct. 27, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.

Hans Graf, conductor
Angela Ryu, violin

Scriabin’s “Poème de l’extase (Poem of Ecstasy)”
Sibelius’ “Violin Concerto”
Stravinsky’s “The Firebird (1910)”

Fire meets ice in an exhilarating program drawing inspiration from legend, magic and mystical realms. Following Scriabin’s cosmic “Poem of Ecstasy,” be transported to a world of snowy, sparkling beauty with Sibelius’ luminous “Violin Concerto,” performed by 2023 Shepherd School Concerto Competition winner Angela Ryu. One of the most beloved masterpieces of all time, Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” dazzles from the first note to the roaring, heart-pounding finale. Grammy Award-winning conductor and former Houston Symphony music director Hans Graf leads the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra.

“Transcending Heights”
Dec. 1, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.

William Eddins, conductor
Isaac Foreman, piano

Carpenter’s “Skyscrapers”
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”
Brahms’ Symphony No. 2

In Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, beautiful melodies build to a joyful, triumphant and famous finale. 2023 Shepherd School Concerto Competition winner Isaac Foreman scales the towering heights of Beethoven’s mighty “Emperor” Concerto. Fusing classical idioms with jazz, blues and ragtime, Carpenter’s “Skyscrapers” captures a slice of big-city life in the Roaring ’20s. Eminent, multifaceted conductor William Eddins leads the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra.

“Explorations of Humanity”
Feb. 2, 2024, at 7:30 p.m.

Lidiya Yankovskaya, conductor
Maximus Gurath, cello
Jessie Montgomery’s “Hymn for Everyone”

Elgar’s “Cello Concerto”
Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5

Fast-rising star conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya leads a program exploring different shades of the human experience, beginning with Jessie Montgomery’s “Hymn for Everyone,” a meditation on life during the pandemic. The 2023 Shepherd School of Music Concerto Competition winner Maximus Gurath shines in Elgar’s profoundly expressive “Cello Concerto,” a poignant response to World War I. For Shostakovich, his Symphony No. 5 was literally a matter of life and death — already on thin ice with a Soviet regime that regularly “purged” unsuitable artists, a negative review would have been disastrous, and likely fatal. The monumental masterpiece he created achieved the impossible: appeasing authorities, scattering covert moments of defiance and immortalizing music’s power to speak volumes without a single word.

“Rhythmic Revelry”
March 2, 2024, at 7:30 p.m.

Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor

Jimmy López Bellido’s “Fiesta!”
Daniel Leibovic’s “A Cassette from Banglé”
Prokofiev’s Selections from “Romeo and Juliet”

Journey across the globe in a program of rhythmic and high-energy music, led by charismatic conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Jimmy López Bellido’s “Fiesta!” fuses Latin American and Afro-Peruvian influences, modern pop music and more. Inspired by the glittering, hypnotic beauty of Balinese gamelan, “A Cassette from Banglé” showcases the talents of Shepherd School student composer Daniel Leibovic. Selections from Prokofiev’s beloved “Romeo and Juliet” ballet score conjure the drama and intense passions of the world’s most famous love story.

“A Constellation of Sounds and Stories”
April 19, 2024, at 7:30 p.m.

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor
Najee Greenlee, clarinet

Caroline Shaw’s “The Observatory”
Copland’s “Clarinet Concerto”
Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade”

Experience music to ignite your imagination and transport you to another place, from outer space and a 1940s jazz club to the magical land of Scheherazade and her “One Thousand and One Nights.” Shepherd School alumna Caroline Shaw’s “The Observatory” was inspired by the composer’s love of sci-fi and by breathtaking views from Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory. 2023 Shepherd School Concerto Competition winner Najee Greenlee joins the orchestra for Copland’s “Clarinet Concerto.” Originally written for Benny Goodman, it fuses lyrical beauty with toe-tapping jazz, ending with a “Rhapsody in Blue”-style glissando. Rimsky-Korsakov’s much-loved “Scheherazade” beckons us into a world brimming with dazzling sights, wonder and enchantment. Giancarlo Guerrero, Grammy-winning music director of the Nashville Symphony, will conduct.

Shepherd School Chamber Orchestra

All concerts will be held in Stude Concert Hall. Tickets are required for all performances and are “pay what you wish” (between $0 and $25 per performance).

“Musical Exuberance”
Sept. 28, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.

Robert Spano, conductor

Brahms’ Serenade No. 1 in D Major
Knussen’s “Two Organa (1995)”
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 overflows with high spirits, vigor and vitality. Music from the 12th century, an old Dutch music box and an adventure into the avant-garde are just a few of the inspirations behind Oliver Knussen’s eclectic “Two Organa.” Acclaimed conductor Robert Spano, music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School and Fort Worth Symphony, leads the Shepherd School Chamber Orchestra in this performance, which opens with Brahms’ radiant Serenade No. 1.

“Music of Place and Time”
March 3, 2024, at 2 p.m.

Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor

Stravinsky’s Concerto in E-flat (“Dumbarton Oaks”)
Gabriela Lena Frank’s “Elegía Andina” (2000)
Strauss’ “Suite from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme”

Miguel Harth-Bedoya leads the Shepherd School Chamber Orchestra in a program spotlighting music that takes its cue from a specific time and place. Named after a grand estate in Washington, D.C., Concerto in E-flat (“Dumbarton Oaks”) blends Stravinsky’s inventive, boundary-pushing sound with a nod to one of the greatest masters of the past, J.S. Bach. “Elegía Andina” celebrates composer Gabriela Lena Frank’s multicultural heritage and draws in stylistic elements of Peruvian panpipes. Based on a 17th-century French satire about a pompous social climber, Strauss’ “Suite from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme” fizzes with lively antics and whimsical charm.

Shepherd School Chamber Players

All concerts will be held in Stude Concert Hall.

Nov. 30, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 1, 2024, at 7:30 p.m.

Programming to be announced.

Shepherd School Contemporary Ensemble

The ensemble, led by conductor Jerry Hou, focuses on works written by living composers. The concert will be performed in Stude Concert Hall.

“The Music of Kevin Puts”
Oct. 28, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.

Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning composer Kevin Puts, guest composer-in-residence at the Shepherd School, is celebrated as one of America’s leading composers, praised by Opera News as “a master polystylist” and The New York Times as creating “plush, propulsive” music. His work has been commissioned and performed by the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall and Philadelphia Orchestra. Puts has collaborated with world-class artists, from Renée Fleming to Yo-Yo Ma. Repertoire will include “I Dreamt Up an Opening Line” from the opera “The Hours” with mezzo-soprano Audrey Welsh, “Arcana,” and “Seven Seascapes.”

Shepherd School Opera

Opera hall

All performances will be held in Brockman Hall for Opera’s Morrison Theater. Tickets are required for all opera performances.

Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”
Nov. 3, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 5, 2023, at 2 p.m.

Stephanie Rhodes Russell, conductor
Paul Curran, director
Shepherd School Chamber Orchestra

She loves him, he loves her not. He loves her, she …
When Tatyana, a young country girl with a penchant for romance stories, meets the sophisticated and cynical Eugene Onegin, she falls in love at first sight. He turns her down — but when the two have a chance meeting years later, Onegin is astonished by the poised and confident woman Tatyana has become and realizes he may have made a mistake. Will Tatyana return his love? Or will his earlier actions come back to haunt him? Tchaikovsky’s ardent, achingly beautiful music meets Pushkin’s riveting tale of self-absorption, self-discovery and pride driven past the point of no return in this remarkable tour de force, brought to life with stunning, atmospheric sets in the spectacular Brockman Hall for Opera. The opera will be sung in Russian with English surtitles. The performance will be conducted by Stephanie Rhodes Russell and directed by Paul Curran.

“Opera Scenes”
Feb. 4, 2024, at 2 p.m.

Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” and Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia”
April 5, 2024, at 7:30 p.m.
April 7, 2024, at 2 p.m.

Benjamin Manis, conductor
R.B. Schlather, director
Shepherd School Chamber Orchestra

A thought-provoking double bill pairs works written nearly 300 years apart, each exploring remarkable women and timeless themes that remain all too relevant today. The evening begins with one of opera’s earliest masterpieces, Purcell’s poignant “Dido and Aeneas,” which recounts the tragic love story of Dido, queen of Carthage, and Trojan hero Aeneas, a union compelled by political alliance, ignited by undeniable passion, and thwarted by sorcery and duplicity. With its ingenious score and potent, timely story, Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia” astounds as it brings issues of corruption, control and abuse of power to the forefront. The double bill will be directed by R.B. Schlather and will feature the Shepherd School Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Shepherd School alumnus Benjamin Manis.

Groundbreaking world premiere collaborations

“Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness”
Jan. 20, 2024, at 8 p.m.

This groundbreaking multidisciplinary performance merges visual art, music, dance, movement and spoken word to create an urgent new language for collective expression. Inspired by James Drake’s epic drawing of the same title, “Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness” is an immersive performance that unfolds in five dramatic movements — with a score by renowned composer Gabriela Ortiz, text and lyrics by award-winning author Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and 24 singers from the Grammy-winning choir The Crossing, conducted by Donald Nally. More information is available online at www.canweknowthesound.org. The event will take place in Brockman Hall for Opera’s Morrison Theater. Tickets are required and an on-sale date will be announced.

The event will include James Drake, artist; Benjamin Alire Sáenz, writer; Gabriela Ortiz, composer; Shaun Leonardo, performance artist; Steve Jiménez, producer/director; Alejandro Escuer, flutist; Leila Hamidi, curator; Terrie Sultan, consulting producer; Matthew Loden, executive producer; Martirene Alcantara, photographer; and Bill Megalos, videographer. Guest collaborators include local veterans of Houston, The Crossing Chamber Choir, Houston Ballet Academy dancers, photographer Adam Holdender and Houston Children’s Chorus.

Matthew Aucoin and Peter Sellars: “Music for New Bodies”
April 20, 2024, at 8 p.m.

Morrison Theater at Brockman Hall for Opera

This major new work is also an exciting first collaboration between the brilliant young composer Matthew Aucoin and legendary director Peter Sellars. This musical premiere will be brought to life by five vocal soloists and an 18-instrument ensemble. This co-commission from the Shepherd School and DACAMERA was inspired by the writings of Jorie Graham and Rachel Carson, with a libretto by Aucoin and Sellars, students of the Shepherd School, DACAMERA Young Artists and vocal soloists will be announced. Single tickets are available now at dacamera.com.

“Music for New Bodies” is an immersion in vast planetary processes: We follow the migration of eels to the depths of the Atlantic Basin; we hear the voice of the ocean floor itself, speaking with superhuman pressure and force; we experience humankind’s impact on our planet, and we also sense the presence of cycles so immense that they are beyond human influence.

Community and family events

Musical Stories Family Concert
March 23, 2024, at 11 a.m.

Andrew Grams, conductor
Tickets are required.

Perfect for all ages, this family-friendly concert features selections from Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.” Come early for instrument demonstrations by Shepherd School students in the Grand Foyer. The Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra will be led by guest conductor Andrew Grams.

Concert truck

The Concert Truck chamber music concerts throughout the Houston metropolitan area
Oct. 24, 2023
Oct. 26, 2023
March 5, 2024
March 6, 2024
March 7, 2024

Free and open to the public.

Coming to Houston for the first time! Shepherd School students will perform chamber music on The Concert Truck, a 16-foot box truck that’s been converted into a fully functioning mobile concert hall, complete with lights, sound system and piano. The Concert Truck strengthens communities by redefining the concert experience and making live music accessible to all. Sign up for the Shepherd School’s email list to get concert locations and times when they are announced.

Chamber Music Festival
Nov. 10–12, 2023
April 12–14, 2024

Free and open to the public.

Three days of captivating chamber music, where Shepherd School students come together to create moments of pure musical magic and artistry. The performances will take place in Duncan Recital Hall.\

Rice ensembles

Rice Chorale
Sept. 11, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. in Stude Concert Hall
Nov. 20, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. in Edythe Bates Old Recital Hall and Grand Organ

Free and open to the public.

The 60-voice Rice Chorale is comprised of voice and music majors as well as other talented singers from Rice and the Greater Houston community. The ensemble is led by music director Tom Jaber.

Campanile Orchestra
Nov. 19, 2023, at 4 p.m.

Free and open to the public.

The Campanile Orchestra is a symphony orchestra made up of Rice nonmusic majors and members of the Greater Rice community who wish to continue their orchestral activities. The performance will take place in Stude Concert Hall under the direction of Joseph Kneer.

2024 Shepherd School Concerto Competition

All performances will take place in Stude Concert Hall. Tickets not required.

Keyboard finals
Feb. 18, 2024, at 6 p.m.

Winds, brass, percussion, harp finals
March 30, 2024, at 10 a.m.

String finals
March 30, 2024, at 2 p.m.

Excitement is in the air as the best and brightest Shepherd School students compete for the opportunity to perform with the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra or Chamber Orchestra in the 2024–25 season.

Shepherd School of Music faculty recitals

All recitals will take place in Duncan Recital Hall, unless otherwise noted. Additional recitals will be added throughout the year — visit music.rice.edu/events.

Winds faculty recital
Sept. 15, 2023, at 8 p.m.

Marianne Gedigian, flute; Richie Hawley, clarinet; Benjamin Kamins, bassoon

The Fischer Duo
Oct. 4, 2023, at 8 p.m.

Norman Fischer, cello; Jeanne Kierman Fischer, piano; Kathleen Winkler, violin

“Open Air” (world premiere)
Oct. 7, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.

Kurt Stallmann, composer/improviser; Alfred Guzzetti, filmmaker; Eric Mandat, performer/improviser. “Open Air” aspires to imagine the earliest sounds made by humans and integrates them with dreamlike images drawn from the natural world. The performance is funded in part by the city of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, the Shepherd School and the Office of Research at Rice. This performance will take place at the Moody Center for the Arts.

Marianne Gedigian, flute
Oct. 15, 2023, at 5:30 p.m.

Sharing the Spotlight: Cho-Liang Lin, violin, and friends
Oct. 22, 2023, at 8 p.m.

Kathleen Winkler, violin
Oct. 29, 2023, at 3 p.m.

Brinton Averil Smith, cello
Oct. 29, 2023, at 8 p.m.

Sharing the Spotlight: Norman Fischer and friends
Nov. 20, 2023, at 8 p.m.

Guest artist master classes

Talented Shepherd School students perform short musical excerpts and receive coaching from a distinguished guest in front of a live audience. All events are free and open to the public.

Augustin Hadelich, violin
Nov. 30, 2023

Time and location to be announced

Daniil Trifonov, piano
March 21, 2024, at 7 p.m.

Hirsch Orchestra Rehearsal Hall
(Presented in partnership with DACAMERA)

Ensemble Modern (composition and theory residency)
April 7, 2024

Based in Frankfurt, Ensemble Modern is an international ensemble dedicated to performing and promoting the music of modern composers.

Guest artist master classes in partnership with Chamber Music Houston

Extraordinary visiting artists coach Shepherd School student ensembles in Stude Concert Hall. All events are free and open to the public. Learn more about Chamber Music Houston’s 2023–24 season at chambermusichouston.org.

Jerusalem Quartet
Oct. 10, 2023, at 12 p.m.

Quatuor Modigliani
Nov. 15, 2023, at 10 a.m.

Balourdet Quartet
Jan. 23, 2024, at 10 a.m.

Fauré Piano Quartet
March 19, 2024, at 10 a.m.

Quatuor Ébène
April 9, 2024, at 12 p.m.

Guest artist recitals

All events are free and open to the public.

Bryan Anderson, organ
Sept. 8, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.
Edythe Bates Old Recital Hall and Grand Organ

Shepherd School alumnus Bryan Anderson ’18 (M.M.) performs after winning the coveted first prize at the 2023 Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition.

REMLABS and Nameless Sound present Olivia Block
Nov. 9, 2023

Chicago sound artist Olivia Block presents a world premiere commissioned for James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace. The performance directly follows the completion of the sunset sequence at the Skyspace. The recital is sponsored by an Arts Initiative Grant from Rice, Nameless Sound and the Moody Center for the Arts.

William Eddins, piano
Nov. 28, 2023, at 8 p.m.

Music director emeritus of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Eddins is also an accomplished pianist and chamber musician. The recital will be held in Duncan Recital Hall.

Isabelle Demers, organ
Jan. 14, 2024, at 7:30 p.m.

Associate professor of organ at McGill University in Montréal, Québec, Demers has a long history of dazzling audiences. The event will take place in Edythe Bates Old Recital Hall and Grand Organ.

Claudio Monteverdi: A Caecilian Vespers, performed by Harmonia Stellarum Houston
April 21, 2024, at 7:30 p.m.

This ensemble of vocal and instrumental virtuosos specializes in the performance of 17th-century music on period instruments, led by Shepherd School’s Mario Aschauer. The event will take place in Edythe Bates Old Recital Hall and Grand Organ.

Other special events

Spirit of the Season

New Art/New Music
Nov. 4, 2023, at 3 p.m.

Moody Center for the Arts

A presentation of original scores composed in response to the Laure Prouvost installation created by Shepherd School students.

Spirit of the Season
Dec. 2, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.

Morrison Theater at Brockman Hall for Opera

Enjoy festive music and holiday cheer to benefit the Shepherd School of Music Scholarship Fund.

Calendar and ticketing information

With over 400 events each season, many of which are free or at minimal cost, the Shepherd School offers a variety of programming options. The Shepherd School events calendar at music.rice.edu/events includes the latest schedule updates and shows which performances require tickets.

Tickets will go on sale on a rolling basis, and patrons can sign up for the Shepherd School’s email list for on-sale alerts. Tickets are required for Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and Opera performances. Patrons are able to select their own seats online at music.rice.edu or over the phone at 713-348-8000 (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.). Click here to view the full season brochure .

More information about the Shepherd School of Music is online at music.rice.edu.