Man holds virtual reality wand

The Houston Symphony takes its audience — both live and virtual — to France to kick off February, and then launches a new program later in the month that promises to feature some eye-popping elements.

French-Inspired Program

The orchestra, led by Houston’s favorite conductor, Fabien Gabel, leads a French-themed program that’s highlighted by Francis Poulenc’s Sinfonietta, in addition to a new, multi-sensory way to experience classical music.

Both concerts are available to watch in person or via a livestream. Tickets are available here. Only small audiences are allowed to watch live as the symphony continues to take precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, so make sure to purchase your tickets early.

The performance will be live streamed on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 8 p.m. Central.

Gabel, who is the music director of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, returns to Houston for the program, “Fabien Gabel Conducts French Masterworks,” Feb. 5-7.

The program opens with a new piece by upcoming French composer Camille Pépin, one of the most successful rising young composers. Next, the symphony continues to explore modern French repertoire in a performance of Henri Tomasi’s Fanfares liturgiques that showcases the brass and percussion sections. To close out the program, Gabel leads the orchestra in Francis Poulenc’s Sinfonietta, a lively work full of dance rhythms that spotlights the orchestra’s virtuosity.

Virtual Reality Concert

Families will especially like what the Houston Symphony has planned for Feb. 13 and 14.

It’s being described as a new “multi-sensory way to experience classical music.” The Symphony teams up with Austin-based artist and dancer Topher Sipes for Virtual Reality in Concert: Music Illustrated.

This full-length orchestra program uses Google’s Tilt Brush technology to create life-sized 3D images via virtual reality in real time onstage. Those images will be choreographed to the music.

“During the concert, I am onstage creating expressive artwork in real time using the Tilt Brush,” said Sipes, in a statement. “I love to dance to music, particularly instrumental music. I treat the virtual canvas like a dance floor upon which to express 3D artifacts of my hands’ movements. I approach visual art tools as ‘visual instruments’ where my ear’s sensitivity to rhythm and melody is integral to the creative process.”