Miller Outdoor Theatre is a Houston jewel — and this weekend it becomes a HSPVA showcase. (Photo by Jeffry J. Cotner)
Mary Martha Lappe, A Co-Founder of HSPVA, stands proudly in front of her completed 5-week project which showcases important moments that occurred during each of HSPVA’s six principals' tenures. The archives and photos on display were collected as part of the school's 50th year celebration, and can be seen inside the high school.
HSPVA graduate Rebecca Fischer, will be soloing with the orchestra at the Miller Outdoor Theatre concert on Saturday. (Photo by Anthony Hawley)
Kinder HSPVA Dance Concert, Photo by Lynn Lane
A student jazz musician performs at the Kinder HSPVA Encore fundraiser at Moonstruck Drive-In Cinema. (Photo by Katy Anderson )
Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (Kinder HSPVA) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with three major events, including a free concert and performance show at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The school’s Encore 50 evening will turn this Saturday, April 23 into a night that truly showcases and bolsters the performing arts.
Three opportunities to support current and future HSPVA students will take place, raising much-needed funds. While spotlighting some of the most talented young performers in the city.
It all starts with Party in the Park, an evening of drinks, food and live music at Lott Hall in Hermann Park. This pre-performance event runs from 6 to 7:30 pm on Saturday, providing the perfect concert buildup. Proceeds from tickets, which start at $500, will go towards art supplies, needed tech and teaching artists.
The chairs for Party in the Park are Patricia Bonner, Bob Eury and Karen Ostrum George. The community honorees will be Phoebe and Bobby Tudor with Brookfield Properties the corporate honoree.
Then, beginning at 8:15 pm, the massive free show begins at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Expect performances from current Kinder HSPVA students and special appearances from school alumni, including Broadway regular Samantha Williams (2016), pianist and Guggenheim Fellow Helen Sung (1989), and opera standout Camille Zamora (1988).
Some of the performing arts world’s biggest names have taken the grand Miller stage. It’s no small honor for Kinder HSPVA students to have their own show there. The night’s program will feature selections from every fine arts department at the school: Creative Writing, Dance, Instrumental Music, Theatre, Visual Arts and Vocal Music.
HSPVA alum Rebecca Fischer knows what this night means. And more importantly, what the school itself means to so many of the kids who go there. Fisher, who is now a professional violinist and writer, believes the school changed her life.
“I moved to Houston when I was 16 and in desperate need of creative peers,” Fischer tells PaperCity. “The environment of openness and fun was palpable, and I was able to dream and thrive. As a musician, having friends who were dancers, painters, writers and actors inspired me to pursue interdisciplinary work throughout my professional life.”
Fischer describes the environment as a place with no limits where even the unknown can be possible. A core memory she has from her first visit to the school was during lunchtime on a day when there was a “happening.” She remembers watching students suddenly group up to perform and dance on the lunch tables.
“HSPVA encourages students to be curious, have open minds and believe that anything is possible,” says Fischer, a 1994 HSPVA graduate. “Those qualities are what we look for in educators, artists and leaders of all kinds.”
Another eager participant in this Encore 50 night will be Mary Martha Lappe, who co-founded HSPVA, founded and served as chair of the HSPVA Dance Department for 25 years, and founded and served as executive director of HSPVA Friends for 15 years.
“In 1971 Ruth Denney convinced me to take a one-year leave of absence from the dance faculty at the University of Houston to help her start HSPVA,” Lappe remembers. “Little did I know that I would remain there for 40 wonderful years. I loved the collaboration of all the arts under one roof and all the nationally renowned guest artists in dance that we were able to attract for residencies, master classes, and lecture demonstrations. HSPVA became a melting pot for talented dance teachers and students who wanted a dance program that gave them experiences in a myriad of dance forms — ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap dance, ethnic dance and musical theatre dance.
“I’m very proud to be one of the co-founders of HSPVA and very honored to be asked to participate in Encore 50.”
This is an outdoor concert on a grand stage in the heart of Houston that means something to so many people. You can reserve a spot and get a free ticket to the show. Lawn seating also will be available for anyone who wants to take in an evening of music.
Pro-tip: Buy a ticket to the after-party and you get access to VIP seating under the Miller Outdoor Theatre canopy.
After-Party: A Toast to the Next 50 Years
After Encore 50, the celebration will continue until midnight at Axelrad Beer Garden at 1517 Alabama Street. This ticketed event costs $75 with themed snacks and an open bar featuring Axelrad’s signature cocktails and draft beer. You can mingle with HSPVA officials and alumni while enjoying Axelrad’s beautiful outdoor garden famous for its neon tree.
This $75 ticket grants you admission to the after-party, as well as VIP seating under the canopy for the Miller Outdoor Theatre show. Proceeds from this event also will benefit Kinder HSPVA and its arty mission.
The after-party chairs are Farell Marblestone Diamond (Vocal alum, 1993), Matthew Jamison (Theatre, 2010) and Chiarra Elayda Stratton (Instrumental, 1993).
Students are guided in a journey of arts and education excellence at Kinder HSPVA like at few other schools.
The magnitude of young minds that have flourished with the help of HSPVA is impressive and it’s all thanks to the superb community that allows the school to continue to thrive as it celebrates 50 years. During the transformative high school years, having good mentors can change the course of a life. Helen Sung, a 2017 HSPVA Jazz Hall of Fame inductee, remembers appreciating being able to “geek out” about music with her peers in a safe space during her adolescent years.
This weekend, everyone can geek out with some of the most talented young performers in Houston.