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The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra


March 6-16, 2014


World Premiere
Music by Benjamin Britten
Choreography by Stanton Welch
Costumes by Holly Hynes
Lighting by Lisa Pinkham

Benjamin Britten created his The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra in 1946, and it has helped to introduce generations of children to the world of classical music. "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra marks a very significant collaboration between our dancers and the orchestra," comments Mr. Welch.

The celebrated Texas actor Jaston Williams, winner of the LA Dramalogue Award for his performances in both Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas, will appear as a guest artist, serving as the narrator for The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. Since 1982, Mr. Williams has served as co-author and co-star of the Tuna trilogy, chronicling the citizens of the small fictional town of Tuna, Texas on and off Broadway, at The Kennedy Center, the Edinburgh International Arts Festival, the Spoleto Festival USA and on tours across America. He has received the received the San Francisco Bay Area Critics Award for his performance in Greater Tuna. A native of Austin, Mr. Williams toured for several years in Larry Shue's The Foreigner, and received a nomination for best actor for Washington DC's prestigious Helen Hayes Awards. He has performed in The Fantasticks at Washington D.C.'s Ford's Theatre, and directed the musical Bad Girls Upset by the Truth for Atlanta's Alliance Theater. Mr. Williams received the Governor's Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts by a Native Texan, and has performed on three occasions at the White House.

The costumes for The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra will be created by Holly Hynes, who has collaborated with Mr. Welch before on the costumes for The Core and Brigade, among others. Lighting will be designed by Mr. Welch's frequent collaborator Lisa Pinkham

Resources on The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

Read about Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

Read Benjamin Britten's Bio

Read Stanton Welch's bio


Houston Ballet Premiere
Music by Joseph Canteloube (Chants d'Auvergne)
Choreography by Stanton Welch

Of Blessed Memory is a company premiere for Houston Ballet and one of the first works Mr. Welch choreographed for The Australian Ballet in 1991. He created the leading role for his mother, Marilyn Jones, OBE, one of The Australian Ballet's greatest ballerinas of the 1960s and 1970s and a former artistic director of The Australian Ballet. The piece is a large-scale work danced to selections from Joseph Canteloube's Chants d'Auvergne. The ballet was so popular and well-received that he was voted best new choreographer in 1992 by readers of the British magazine Dance & Dancers after the work was performed on tour by The Australian Ballet in London and Italy.

Daniel Gesmer, critic for The New York Times called the ballet, "A neo-Classical centerpiece, Stanton Welch's first major ballet, Of Blessed Memory, is an abstract, intensely romantic exploration of youth, motherhood and the transition families endure when children grow up and leave home."

Performing as the vocal soloist in Of Blessed Memory is Nicole Heaston, who recently won acclaim for her performance in the title role of Handel's Alcina. The New York Times wrote:
Alcina rightly emerges as the focal point around which the action turns. She is splendidly portrayed by the American soprano Nicole Heaston, whose versatility is underscored by fine singing in Alcina's wide ranging, musically superb arias. Ms. Heaston's radiant voice is handsomely resonant, with a slight but attractive shimmer. She brings brilliance to Alcina's showpiece arias but is especially moving in Alcina's devastating final aria, sung when her magical powers have failed her. She makes a pathetic figure at the end, crawling on the floor, her elaborate, bejeweled head covering stripped off to reveal a balding pate, while all the others turn their backs to her (February 2014).


Resources on Of Blessed Memory

Read Stanton Welch's bio

Read New York Times review of Nicole Heaston


MANINYAS (created in 1996, performed by Houston Ballet in 2005)

Music by Ross Edwards (Maninyas Concerto for Violin and Orchestra)
Choreography by Stanton Welch
Scenic and costume design by Stanton Welch
Lighting design by Lisa Pinkham

A mix of classical and contemporary ballet, Maninyas is a small abstract work, a series of pas de deux and pas de trois. Set to Maninyas Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, a work by Australian composer Ross Edwards, the piece features five couples in delicate costumes designed by Mr. Welch who move in and out of a series of shimmering curtains or veils.
"The piece is a process of unveiling," explained Mr. Welch. "It examines how in relationships, you gradually unlayer yourself, and how scary, dark, and open it is to reveal yourself to another, without protection. The dancers are undressing themselves spiritually as well as physically."
Originally created for San Francisco Ballet in 1996, Maninyas was Mr. Welch's first commission outside his home company, The Australian Ballet - his first American exposure, which led to commissions with other companies. In fact, seeing Maninyas led Ben Stevenson, Houston Ballet Artistic Director Emeritus, to ask Mr. Welch to create a work for Houston Ballet.

Resources on Maninyas

Read Stanton Welch's bio


Houston Ballet's performances of The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra are generously underwritten by ConocoPhillips.