Arts / Society

Holiday Music Like You’ve Never Heard Before Hits Houston — and a 93-Year-old General Cannot Get Enough

BY // 12.19.16
photography Richard Carson

The annual Houston Symphony Holiday Concert in the Crain Garden lobby at Houston Methodist took on special meaning this year with a generous gift and a poignant farewell. But the highlight was, as always, the sounds of the symphony.

With strings of glistening lights overhead and a two-story high tree decked to the hilt as backdrop, Broadway music director and conductor Andy Einhorn led the musicians on a rollicking holiday musical tour as some 800 hospital supporters, physicians and patients looked on. The event is the crown jewel of the Crain Garden Concert Series, which provides hospital performances throughout the year under the auspices of the hospital’s Center for Performing Arts Medicine (CPAM).

There was a certain nostalgia to the evening that was the last holiday concert for CPAM founder and Methodist medical staff president Dr. Dick Stasney, who is retiring at the end of the year. During his two decades at the CPAM helm, the center has grown to have more than 100 doctors who care for the elite artists of the Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet, and Houston Grand Opera, in addition to providing patients with regular live performances and music therapy.

“Being recognized at the hospital where he has worked and in front of the entire Houston Symphony represents physically and tangibly the connection between arts and medicine and was a wonderful way to remember him and his contributions to the hospital,” said Todd Frazier, CPAM director.

Before the music began, Methodist president and CEO Dr. Marc Boom announced to the gathering that Margaret Alkek Williams had provided permanent funding to the tune of $1 million for the concert series which is sponsored by the Margaret Alkek Williams Center for Performing Arts Medicine Endowment for Arts Integration. With that announcement, the generous philanthropist was presented with a massive bouquet from two costumed dancers from Houston Ballet.

Special guest for the concert was 93-year-old Gen. Chuck Yeager, who received a standing ovation from the gathering. The audience included Houston Symphony CEO Mark Hanson, CPAM chairman Dr. Robert Jackson, Dr. Julie Boom, board member Vidal Martinez, and Susan Stasney. Notables then moved on to the wine room at Tony’s for an intimate dinner celebrating Margaret Alkek Williams’ gift to the concert series.

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