Virtuosi’s Story

Virtuosi of Houston is a premier young artists chamber orchestra. Our goal is to educate and develop young, talented musicians into true professionals, who would be sought after by premier conservatories and who would pursue a musical career as performers, educators and advocates of classical music.

Virtuosi provides the opportunity for every talented youth in the Houston area, regardless of race, religion, or income to receive the best classical music education so that they are competitive in their objective to become music professionals. The chamber orchestra, 40–55 musicians, is smaller than a typical symphony orchestra, allowing these exceptional musicians to experience increased confidence, leadership, responsibility and skill through individual attention from two world-class conductors.

For 20 years Virtuosi of Houston’s mission has been to create a pre-professional climate and performance opportunities for Houston’s most focused young musicians (11–18 years of age), regardless of race, religion or financial status and to bring an expanded repertoire of chamber music to Houston.

The Virtuosi of Houston season is comprised of three chamber orchestra performances. There are a total of 10 rehearsals, five weeks prior to the concert, for each of the three concerts.

Our Artistic Directors and Conductors, Franz Anton Krager and Andrzej Grabiec, are professors at the Moores School of Music, University of Houston, with more than 50 years of conducting and performing experience between them. Under this two-conductor structure, more individual training is provided. While one maestro conducts from the podium, the other circulates throughout the ensemble tutoring individual players on the correct techniques of fingering, pitch, sound and other good music practices.

Each student benefits from their complementary direction, expertise and knowledge. We recognize that the youth of today are growing up in a smaller, globally connected world. Understanding cultural differences and building international relationships is crucial to developing a child into a responsible global citizen. In this spirit, Virtuosi of Houston will endeavor to provide an international education and performance experience each year.

Virtuosi of Houston has two performances in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Zilkha Hall.  In Zilkha Hall, students have an opportunity to experience performing in a state-of-the-art facility as professional musicians who have completed their university studies and have achieved professional standing.

A third performance is held at our annual Legends of the Future gala dinner and concert. Virtuosi duos, trios and quartets are encouraged to perform all over Houston for a modest honorarium, or with their compliments, in malls, senior citizen homes and at private events.

Our vision is that someday Virtuosi alumni will return to Texas as performers, educators and arts advocates to give their expertise back to the community that helped develop them as young musicians.

Virtuosi musicians attend and have graduated from some of the finest music education institutions in the country and abroad, such as Julliard, New England Conservatory, Curtis, Eastman, Peabody, Northwestern, North Texas, The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and Moores School of Music of the University of Houston.

For the first time in our history, one of our alumni graduated from The Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Our musicians excel because of their higher level of performance experience, an expanded knowledge of repertoire, and an increased sense of confidence, leadership skills, and responsibility. The importance of providing arts education to children encourages a desire for learning, creative thinking and individuality. Over the past three years, more than 80% of our graduating students have continued their music education at the college level as performance or music education majors.

Graduates say they are better prepared to face the competition for admission to prestigious music schools and conservatories. During the last 20 years we have impacted the lives of countless aspiring young musicians. We have seen how our mission statement has come to fruition through the many alumni who are great testaments to our mission’s success.

Some of our distinguished alumni are: world renown Arne-Christian Pelz, principal cellist for the Hamburg Symphony, award winning Beatriz Macias, solo flutist of the Luxembourg Chamber Orchestra, Emileigh Vandiver, professor of cello at the New England Conservatory of Music and local music educator Lauren Haley, who has a very successful music studio to teach violin and viola to the young artist of tomorrow.

These alumni along with numerous others reinforce our mission statement and validate the effectiveness of Virtuosi of Houston’s music education and performance programs.