On Houston’s far west side, a hybrid professional/amateur ensemble: ECHOrchestra

Posted on: June 28, 2022

“The Energy Corridor Houston Orchestra, ECHOrchestra for short, occupies a peculiar middle ground in the city’s arts landscape,” writes Chris Gray in Thursday’s (6/22) Houston Chronicle (TX). “It’s big and talented enough to handle top-level repertoire, flexible enough to sponsor a chamber-music series and young-artist competition, and yet still something of a secret outside its far-westside community…. The orchestra began in 2014 when, explains [Executive Director Linda Shrum] East, co-founders Michael Fahey and Sarah McDonner wanted to increase the ‘cultural presence’ in the district much better-known for the high concentration of energy-company offices than artistic amenities…. Fahey … pulled together the first ECHOrchestra concert in the fall of 2015…. East came aboard two years ago…. Today, she explains, ECHOrchestra’s concerts usually feature between 40 and 50 musicians onstage, drawn from a pool of around 90 musicians…. About half that number consists of professional musicians, but the orchestra also includes doctors, accountants, educators, and—this being the Energy Corridor— a ‘significant representation’ from the oil and gas industry…. Last month … was the world premiere of Houston-based composer Kevin Ray’s ‘Retrospect.’ … East credits the organizations’s donor base, which she says currently numbers around 2,000, for helping keep ECHOrchestra afloat.”