The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, newly renovated with expanded covered seating, celebrates its 2009 Performing Arts Season with 20th Season Ovation, a lineup of events bursting with culture, patriotism, dance, classical music, old favorites, innovative works and more. The first two performances of the 20th season include the Houston Symphony’s Four Italians May 15 and Dancin’ Beneath the Stars May 21. Both concerts start at 8 p.m. Gates open at 7 p.m.
Under the direction of Maestro Hans Graf, Four Italians features music from distinguished Italian composers Rossini, Paganini, Puccini and Respighi. Rossini was a popular Italian composer who created 39 operas, as well as sacred music and chamber music. Paganini, an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist and composer, was one of the most celebrated violinists of his time and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. Puccini was a famed Italian composer whose operas, including “La Bohème” and “Madame Butterfly,” are among the most frequently performed throughout the world. Respighi was also an Italian composer, but a musicologist and conductor as well. He is best known for his orchestral Roman trilogy: “Fontane di Roma” (“Fountains of Rome”), “Pini di Roma” (“Pines of Rome”) and “Feste Romane” (“Roman Festivals”).
On May 15, the Houston Symphony performs Respighi’s “Pines of Rome” along with Rossini’s Overture to “La scala di seta,” Puccini’s “Preludio Sinfonica” and Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major featuring violin virtuosi Eugene Ugorski. Born in St. Petersburg in 1989, Ugorski is hailed as one of today’s most exciting young violinists. He has performed with orchestras in Western Europe, Russia, North and South America and the Far East. He makes his Houston Symphony debut at The Pavilion with this performance.
On May 21, enjoy an enchanting evening with the Houston Symphony’s Dancin’ Beneath the Stars. Principal Pops Conductor Michael Krajewski will have you swaying to the music with timeless melodies of the past. This starry night of music kicks off with Offenbach’s “Grande Cancan.” The Can-Can is a dance performed by a chorus line of female dancers featuring the lifting up and manipulation of the dancers’ skirts with high-kcking body movements. Also on the program are Tchaikovksy’s Suite from “Swan Lake” and Berlin’s “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails,” “Steppin’ Out With My Baby” and “Cheek to Cheek” from “Top Hat.” The symphony also performs some of the silver screen’s most-famous works with Nacio Herb Brown’s classic “Singin’ in the Rain” and Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances” from “West Side Story.” These and other songs by the Houston Symphony get you in a toe-tapping mood.
Joining the Houston Symphony May 21 are guest dancers Joan Hess and Kirby Ward, two of Broadway’s hottest stars. Hess recently completed her fifth Broadway show playing Tanya in “Mamma Mia” and was seen as Jessica in HBO’s Grammy Award-winning comedy series “Flight of the Conchords.” Ward has worked in film, television and on stage for nearly 30 years. Some of his stage roles have included Che in “Evita,” King Herod in “Jesus Christ Superstar” and various parts in “42nd Street,” “My One and Only” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” Audience members also can dance the night away beneath the stars.
Pre-concert activities for Four Italians and Dancin’ Beneath the Stars begin at 7 p.m. At Four Italians, learn everything you want to know about Italian composers Rossini, Paganini, Puccini and Respighi at Pavilion Talk, a free pre-concert discussion led by noted music scholar and college professor Ira. J. Black that provides insight into the evening’s program from 7:15 to 7:45 p.m. At Dancin’ Beneath the Stars, get into the dancing mood with Class Act Productions’ Act One and Overture ensembles performing “Dance Evolution” to music from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s from 7:15-7:45 p.m. in the Fidelity Investments Plaza. Woodlands Online, Woodforest National Bank’s Barkley and Audi of America, official automobile of The Pavilion, also are on hand for pre-concert activities. At both events, children can explore the world of musical instruments with The Pavilion Partners’ popular Instrument Petting Zoo, sponsored by Music & Arts. Kids can design their own pasta necklaces at Four Italians or create their own dancing stars at Dancin’ Beneath the Stars. Both of these hands-on crafts take place at The Pavilion Partners’ arts and crafts booth. Guests also can register-to-win Tommy Bahama’s “Best Seats in the House.” All pre-concert festivities are free to anyone attending the performances.
Tickets to Four Italians and Dancin’ Beneath the Stars are $15 for orchestra seating. Mezzanine and lawn seating is free and tickets are not required. Orchestra seating tickets may be purchased at The Pavilion Ticket Office, located at 2005 Lake Robbins Drive in The Woodlands. The Ticket Office is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and on event days through the start of the show. Tickets also are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, including Macy’s, Fiesta, select FYE, H-E-B and Ritmo locations, Wherehouse Music and Media Magic, by calling 800-745-3000, or online at www.ticketmaster.com. Some service charges may apply.
Performing Arts Season Subscriptions for 20th Season Ovation are available for $150 per seat. Subscriptions include an orchestra-level seat to all Houston Symphony concerts and Houston Ballet’s performance (including preferred seating for the free Texas Music Festival Orchestra, Star-Spangled Salute and United States Army Field Band concerts). Also included is VIP on-site parking and Woodforest Bank VIP Club access for each show. Subscribe before May 21 and receive bonus tickets to the performing arts concert of your choice. Individual tickets for all performing arts events as well as the entire season are now available.
Preferred parking is available in the on-site Town Center Garage, located along Six Pines Drive. Parking is $5 per vehicle for these and most performing arts events. Tickets for on-site parking can be purchased in advance at all Ticketmaster locations and The Pavilion Ticket Office. Guests also may park in any of the five free parking lots on the southwest side of The Pavilion. The free, color-coded lots are connected to The Pavilion by corresponding pathways with signs leading across The Waterway.
At the symphony, have a picnic in your seat or on the hill during the concert. Mezzanine and lawn seating is free. Free lawn chairs also are available for this and other applicable performing arts events. Keep in mind that beverages cannot be brought into The Pavilion.
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion's 20th Season Ovation is presented by The Woodlands Development Company and sponsored by Donoho’s Jewellers, Audi of America, Community Associations of The Woodlands, Houston Community Newspapers, The Pavilion Partners, The Wortham Foundation, and Continental Airlines, official airline of The Pavilion.
If you would like more information about The Pavilion and its 20th Season Ovation, please visit www.woodlandscenter.org or look for The Pavilion on MySpace and Facebook.