Houston Symphony May Return to Houston Grand Opera Orchestra Pit

Classic Arts News   Houston Symphony May Return to Houston Grand Opera Orchestra Pit
The Houston Grand Opera and Houston Symphony are looking into the possibility of again using the symphony as the opera company's pit orchestra, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The symphony's management is exploring ways to increase its revenues and relieve its financial problems. Preliminary studies of the situation, including possible schedules and pay scales, should be completed by mid-June.

The orchestra was HGO's primary pit orchestra for more than thirty years, from the opera company's first performance in 1956 through the 1980s, when, under then-new music director Christoph Eschenbach, the orchestra increased its tour and concert schedule and found that its opera performances got in the way.

In 1997, the two organizations decided to part ways; the Houston Symphony played its last HGO performance in November 2001.

A reunion between the two would mean less work for the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, which formed in 1990 and has become HGO's exclusive orchestra. The opera orchestra's contract expires at the end of August 2006.

Lovie Smith-Schenk, president of the Houston Professional Musicians Association, said, "We would be concerned about any group losing work or being reduced [in size]."

Using the Houston Symphony as a pit orchestra would also affect the Houston Ballet, which has its own orchestra, but shares some musicians with the HGO.

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