July 8, 2017: We presented works by Romantic-era composers Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann and Max Bruch at Midtown Arts and Theater Center, Houston (MATCH).
Despite a thunderstorm right before the concert, MATCHBox 1 was nearly full with our enthusiastic audience!
On October 12, we returned to MATCH to present the first concert in our “Mentors Inspire” series as we focused on classical composer Franz Joseph Haydn’s early life and the mentors that helped shape his musical path.
Our program included: an early string quartet by Johann Stamitz in B flat major, Trio Sonata in F Major, Wq 154 by Carl Philippe Emanuel Bach, and Franz Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 9 no. 2. Though the audience was much smaller than our audience in the summer, we were still able to donate a full bag of towels and toiletries to the Downtown YMCA for The Beacon, an organization that provides resources to Houston’s homeless and low-income population.
On October 27, we revisited some of our favorite trios and duos at St. Mark’s Episcopal for a small audience (Astros World Series Game 2 was that night). Proceeds from the evening went to Lord of the Streets, St. Mark’s ministry for the homeless. Music included a movement from Schubert’s String Trio in B flat major, the first movement of Mozart’s Divertimento in E flat major, K. 563, a duo for violin and viola in A major by Franz Joseph Haydn, and the string trio in F Major, Op. 3 no. 3 by Wranitsky.
In January, we launched Sonorous Sojourns at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center. Once a month, we visit patients in their rooms and families in waiting rooms and serenade them with pieces for solo instruments by Johann Sebastian Bach. One patient said, “I wish I had a bottle to capture my feelings now, just listening to this music- that I could revisit them whenever I wanted.” Another commented, “I was anxious about my surgery tomorrow, but a weight has now been lifted. Thank you!”
We’re going to add duos to the mix in the fall. Thank you to all who have donated to this campaign. You may still do so HERE.
On February 14, La Speranza made our highly-anticipated Houston Early Music Festival debut. This performance was the second in our “Mentors Inspire” concert series. The first half of the program featured the relationship between Haydn and Mozart in the middle of Haydn’s career. We performed the first quartet (in b minor) in Haydn’s “Russian” quartets, op. 33 and the first of Mozart’s “Haydn” Quartets, Op. 387, the set of six quartets that were inspired by the Haydn’s “Russian” quartets. The second half of the program was Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet with Thomas Carroll on basset clarinet d’amore, the instrument for which the quintet was intended.
We also gave a special preview performance at Houston Methodist Hospital as a part of their Crain Garden series which included the Mozart string quartet and clarinet quintet on February 13th.
On March 16th, Andrew Schneider gave a special preview performance of Franz Liszt’s transcription of the Beethoven’s Septet for piano at Houston Methodist’s beautiful Willowbrook campus.
Joanna Becker and I (Yvonne Smith) performed a concert that featured Mozart’s Duo in G Major, K 423 and several solo works at Jim and JoAnn Fonteno Center on April 10. The presentation included a lively Q&A session and we loved spending part of our afternoon with such enthusiastic audience members.
On April 19th, La Speranza performed at San Jacinto College in our first concert with harpsichord. The program featured the connections between the well-known composers of the Baroque period and included: Handel’s Trio Sonata op. 6 no. 2, C. P. E. Bach’s B flat major trio sonata, Domenico Scarlatti’s Sinfonia a tre in G Major, George Philippe Telemann’s Quartets in F and D Major, and Christoph Graupner’s Quartet in g minor. Audiences were also treated to a solo fantasy by Johann Sebastian Bach performed beautifully by Andrew Schneider.
A week later on April 26th, we were the featured group at Bar Boheme’s Cultured Cocktails through our fiscal sponsor Fresh Arts. From 5-8 pm we performed solo pieces by Bach and Telemann as well as duos, trios, and quartets from previous concerts and chatted with bar patrons. 10% of all food and drink purchased during our performances went towards Sonorous Sojourns. (We have yet to hear how much exactly. Update coming soon!)
Finally, on June 2nd, La Speranza’s season finale and last concert in our “Mentors Inspire” series featured the tenuous relationship between Haydn and Beethoven. We performed Haydn’s String Quartet in B flat major, Op. 76 no. 4 “Sunrise” and Beethoven’s Septet Op. 20 for clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, and double bass. In addition to Thomas Carroll returning on clarinet (traveling from Boston), we were thrilled to welcome double bassist Paul Ellison, bassoonist Georgeanne Banker (San Francisco), and hornist Sadie Glass (San Francisco) for the first time.
In addition to our concert at St. Mark’s Episcopal, we performed the Beethoven Septet on June 1 for a packed house at Thomas A. Glazier Senior Education Center. We spoke with the audience members about our Classical instruments and answered questions about our individual journeys in historical performance. Some came again to our concert at St. Mark’s the next day!
2017-2018 was a truly remarkable year, especially with Hurricane Harvey drastically affecting every aspect of life here in Houston. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to pull such a season off, especially as this was just our second year of existence!
However, we’ve performed for over 400 people through 10 concerts and reached another 80 through Sonorous Sojourns! We also raised over $6,600. Thank you to all of our wonderful musicians, volunteers, hosts, and donors!
So what’s next for La Speranza?
Well, here are a couple of short term goals:
- Form a board of directors and become a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization in March 2019.
We are currently under the 501(c)3 umbrella of Fresh Arts, a non-profit arts organization in Houston which means we are able to receive tax-deductible donations and valuable support in the early stages of our ensemble. It is now time to take the next step!
- Individual donations covering 75% of the cost of our season.
Our entire 2018-2019 season will be announced on July 8. Now is a great time to DONATE to our general fund to give us a head start on the fundraiser, which will happen in August. Each concert costs between $3,000-6,000 to present, and we wouldn’t be able to exist without individual donations.
I believe in the power of historically informed chamber music performances in healing and transforming an audience and, in turn, a community. When we return to the roots of the music, we find parallels between then and now – in music and also the human condition. Our mission is unique in Houston and – as affirmed again and again in our performances and presentations this season- an extremely important one.
I am passionate about our mission- so passionate, in fact, that my personal finances make up for whatever we don’t raise in donations for each concert. I am extremely grateful for every dollar raised, and no donation is too large or small!
- Grants covering 25% of the cost of our season.
If you have attended one or more of our performances this year, we would love to hear from you. Testimonials are extremely valuable when we apply for donations and grants from larger organizations. You can use the Contact form or e-mail us directly.
Thank you again for all of your support this year! Have a great summer!
~Yvonne Smith, artistic director and violist