Meet Houston Symphony's newest music director

May 23, 2013 11:19:14 AM PDT
May month marks the end of Houston Symphony Music Director Hans Graf's 12-year tenure with the orchestra. A dynamic young conductor soon takes the helm as the symphony begins its year-long centennial celebration.

We traveled to Vienna, Austria to learn more about how Andres Orozco-Estrada knew this was the job for him and how his Colombian culture may make its way into a Houston Symphony concert.

The stage at the historic Musikverein in Vienna, Austria is a long way away from Medell?n, Colombia where Orozco-Estrada first dreamt of becoming a conductor. As a six-year-old boy he was unique, walking around with a TV antenna in his pocket at the ready.

"I was just so happy with my baton and when I wanted to conduct -- everywhere," Orozco-Estrada said.

Now at age 35, Orozco-Estrada has been described as "an imminent talent," "an inspired master of communication" and "a conductor to experience that makes music with the heart."

He began conducting as a teen in Colombia but left at 19 to train at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, the city of music. Now Orozco-Estrada directs the Tonk?nstler Orchestra in Vienna, but in the fall, he becomes the Houston Symphony's music director designate, just as the symphony celebrates its centennial.

"I thought about the music directors in the past and I was very honored and very proud to be one of this big list. My first thought was OK now it's my turn, my opportunity to give everything and to continue this line from very successful, big names and approach a new era," Orozco-Estrada said.

Symphony CEO Mark Hanson says Orozco-Estrada culminates a three-year search for a music director to succeed Graf. And in fact, he was 24th of 25 candidates they had lined up to audition.

"There was almost-instantaneous chemistry and respect between Andres and our musicians," Hanson said. "We knew almost from the moment he started rehearsing with the orchestra that week that we had likely found our next music director."

Orozco-Estrada's mom too felt there was destiny at work. She'd come to Houston from Colombia to watch him here last October.

"After the second concert, my mother said to me, 'Andres you know I have a feeling here could happen something very special for you,'" Orozco-Estrada said.

Orozco-Estrada becomes the symphony's first Hispanic music director, a designation he doesn't shy away from. And some of his ideas to lure newcomers to sample the orchestra tap into his culture.

"Can you imagine doing salsa symphonic in Houston out, outside, in open air?" he said.

So be prepared to experience something unexpected, as well as beautiful as Houston gives a world talent a center stage on which to build his legacy.

ABC13 is the exclusive television partner for the Houston Symphony's 100th Anniversary Concert. We will cover it live from Miller Outdoor Theatre on Friday, June 21, beginning at 8:30pm.

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