Dear Editor: Thank you for your article on Texas music programs, with an obvious emphasis on opera programs. It is odd, however, that the very active, highly recognized, and admired Moores Opera Center (MOC) at the University of Houston was not also featured.
MOC has often been compared to a regional company because of the scope of its program. Four productions are done each year, all with orchestra, all double cast. While staples of the repertoire are included (this year, they are Falstaff and Rosenkavalier), we also place heavy emphasis on new works. Last season, at the composer’s request, we presented the second American production of Daniel Catán’s Il Postino; in fact, our production opened the night he died, but fortunately our students were able to spend precious time with him during rehearsals. I am also proud to note that Christopher Theofanidis’ first opera, Thirteen Clocks, was commissioned by MOC.
The success of the MOC—in addition to its amazing student talent, its direction under the inspiring Buck Ross, and the artful stage design and lighting by Thom Guthrie—is partially due to the collaboration that exists among faculty, including our excellent voice teachers and the head of our choral area. Furthermore, our Moores Opera House is, in the view of many, the finest performing facility in the city, a gorgeous hall with wonderful acoustics—and the icing on the cake is Frank Stella’s largest public installation, part of which adorns the ceiling of the hall.
Additionally, the recent development of our summer program, Le chiavi di bel canto, directed by Melanie Sonnenberg and Joseph Evans, has brought students from schools throughout the U.S. to work with a broad and distinguished faculty for three intensive weeks of Bel Canto study at the Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival held at UH each June.
One other matter: while it was good to see names of friends and former students like Bruce, Denyce, Kim (who was my theory student during his days as an undergraduate music education/tuba student and who sang my first song cycle!) and Darren, all of them predate the Moores School of Music name, as well as the Moores Opera Center. Since the time they were here, our opera program has truly come into its own. It is, without a doubt, one of the great treasures of the Texas arts community.
David Ashley White
Composer, Professor, & Director, Moores School of Music
[Thank you for sharing many of the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music’s notable accomplishments. I wish our editorial space had allowed room to include UH as well as the many other fine Texas schools. –ed.
Writer Olivia Giovetti responds: “I really wanted to go in depth and cover four areas of the state in writing up the schools for this article—hence referencing the prestigious University of Houston and Austin State in the opening, to get a few more names in there. It was a tough call between Houston and the Moores Opera Center and Rice; however, since the Butler School of Music at UT–Austin also has a commitment to new works (including works by Daniel Catán), I wanted to focus on the individualized training of Rice and its connection, demonstrated in Michael Sumuel’s case, to the Houston Grand Opera. But, of course, there are a number of other excellent music schools in Texas, adding credence to the overall thesis of this article series.”]