HISD, Houston Symphony, BBVA Compass announce new music program at Crespo ES

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Houston Independent School District, Houston Symphony and BBVA Compass announced Friday a joint partnership that will integrate the Houston Symphony and orchestral music into the lives of students in grades 3-5 at Crespo Elementary School in southeast Houston.

The Houston Symphony School Residency at Crespo Elementary presented by BBVA Compass, in its pilot phase during the 2015-16 school year, will be structured around lessons, instrument demonstrations and performances.

Two of the four newly appointed Community Embedded Musicians will lead the classroom interactions in this three year-initiative designed to enrich the lives of every third-, fourth- and fifth-grade student at Crespo. The program is inspired by a time-tested and respected initiative pioneered by the New York Philharmonic and is the first of its kind in Houston.

“We are ecstatic to be collaborating with HISD and longtime supporter of the Symphony and the arts, BBVA Compass, to launch such an innovative program to inspire children through music,” said Mark C. Hanson, Houston Symphony Executive Director/CEO.  “The program brings the impact of orchestral music off of the stage and into the classroom in a more in-depth and comprehensive way than ever before in Houston.”

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An arts magnet school, Crespo Elementary boasts a school-wide fine arts program where every child from third grade to fifth grade has the opportunity to specialize in either art, band, dance, drama or technology. All students, regardless of their fine arts specialty, will interact with the Houston Symphony Community Embedded Musicians bi-weekly during the school year through recorder instruction and composition projects, instrument demonstrations, interactive chamber concerts and more. All lessons will take place in school and during school hours. The program will also bring students and their families outside of the school and into full concert experiences as part of the Houston Symphony’s student concert series at Jones Hall.

“What makes this program unique and relevant is not just the fact that these young minds will get to learn how to compose or perform music from talented orchestral musicians, but the fact that it will help their parents and teachers alike better understand why music is an essential element of the classroom and why it is critical to students’ achievement outcomes,” said HISD Chief Academic Officer Andrew Houlihan.

The pilot, which is designed to use music training to help support the students’ overall academic achievement, is made possible by the generosity of BBVA Compass, a longstanding Houston Symphony partner. It aligns with the bank’s efforts to invest in initiatives that provide access to the arts to those in underserved areas.

“This partnership is close to our hearts because it supports our efforts to bring the arts to everyone in our communities, and it’s especially rewarding to bring the magic of music to students of this age,” said BBVA Compass Chairman and CEO Manolo Sánchez, who also serves as a governing director on the Houston Symphony’s board of trustees. “We are honored to be part of this innovative effort, where the public, private and nonprofit sectors come together to enrich young lives.”

The partnership, in alignment with the Houston Symphony’s recently launched 10-year strategic plan, seeks to extend the Symphony’s reach in the community, while also enhancing HISD’s efforts to expand fine arts education at Crespo Elementary.