Press Room

Patrick Summers gives Campbell Lectures at Rice University, March 18 – 20

Patrick Summers, Artistic and Music Director for Houston Grand Opera, moves from the conductor’s podium to the speaker’s podium when he gives three lectures in Rice University’s prestigious Campbell Lecture Series on March 18, 19 and 20.  His three presentations, collectively titled “Thinking Music: the Conductor as Cultural Leader and Teacher,” will endeavor to explain music’s role and relevance in modern society.  Summers, who is profiled in the April 2013 issue of Opera News (on sale March 8), will also conduct two major productions this spring at Houston Grand Opera: a new production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde (April 18 – May 5), featuring Nina Stemme in her US role debut as Isolde and Ben Heppner as Tristan, followed by Verdi’s Il trovatore (April 26 – May 11). 
The Campbell Lecture Series is a nationally recognized endowed lecture series at Rice University’s School of Humanities that, each year, features a distinguished leader in the humanities.  Summers’ first lecture, based on the musical form of the fugue, threads together the idea of music as language and philosophy with insights into music’s basic properties of rhythm, melody, and harmony. The second lecture, a theme and variations, looks to elucidate opera, the human voice, and the life of an opera company. The third and final lecture, in sonata form, discusses a brief history of conducting and the conductor’s responsibility toward education and artistic awareness, all while looking forward to the future of listening.  
Each lecture is scheduled to last 45 minutes and will be followed by Q & A.  The three lectures will also be recorded for future webcast, and a book based on the lectures will be published by University of Chicago Press (details to be announced).  Summers comments:  “Through these lectures, I hope to have an entertaining polyphonic discussion that can unlock, and perhaps define, music.”
About Patrick Summers
Patrick Summers is Artistic and Music Director of Houston Grand Opera (HGO), having served as Music Director since 1998, and is also Principal Guest Conductor of the San Francisco Opera (SFO). 

Over the past decade, Mr. Summers has led many of HGO’s artistic and strategic initiatives, including initiating its own orchestra and founding HGOco, the company’s groundbreaking educational/outreach program to the Houston community. This season, Summers conducts three HGO productions: Show Boat, produced earlier this winter; and, in April and May, Il trovatore and Tristan und Isolde.  

Summers has been involved with dozens of world premieres of American operas and was intimately involved with the 1998 creation of A Streetcar Named Desire at SFO, where he both assisted composer André Previn and conducted several of the work’s premiere performances. He later commissioned Mr. Previn’s second opera, Brief Encounter, which premiered at HGO in 2009 and was conducted by Summers and recorded on Deutsche Grammophon. Summers’ relationship with soprano Renée Fleming, who starred in Streetcar, spans two decades, and includes leading several of her role premieres, tours and recordings. Their CD Bel Canto on Decca won a Grammy Award in 2002.  

His quarter-century association with the San Francisco Opera began as a member of the Merola Opera Program, shortly after which he was made music director of the SF Opera Center, the training arm of SFO. He made his SFO main stage debut (Die Fledermaus) in the early 1990s and over the years has conducted a wide range of Italian, French, and English language repertoire, including, most recently, Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick, and, next season, Der fliegende Holländer, his first Wagner with the company. He made his MET debut in 1999, also with Die Fledermaus, and has similarly traversed a wide repertory from the Baroque (Rodelinda, Ipigénie en Tauride) to bel canto (I Puritani, Lucia di Lammermoor) to German romanticism (Salome).  His association with the MET continues next season with a revival of Enchanted Island.  

In Europe, he has appeared with companies such as the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Welsh National Opera, and Rome Opera, among others, and he will conduct at the Bregenz Festival in 2013 and 2014.
Patrick Summers in Campbell Lectures Series at Rice University
March 18, 19 and 20 at Rice Memorial Chapel
For further information visit:
Patrick Summers Conducts Spring Productions at Houston Grand Opera
April 18 – May 5, 2013
Tristan und Isolde (new production)
Isolde: Nina Stemme
Tristan: Ben Heppner
Brangäne: Claudia Mahnke
Kurwenal: Ryan McKinny
King Marke: Christof Fischesser
Melot: Roger Honeywell
Conductor: Patrick Summers
Director: Christof Loy
Set and costume designer: Johannes Leiacker
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus / Richard Bado, Chorus Master
April 26 – May 11, 2013
Il trovatore
Leonora: Tamara Wilson
Manrico: Marco Berti
Azucena: Dolora Zajick
Count di Luna: Tómas Tómasson
Ferrando: Peixin Chen
Conductor: Patrick Summers
Director: Stephen Lawless
Set designer: Benoit Dugardyn
Costume designer: Martin Pakledinaz
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus / Richard Bado, Chorus Master


Return to Press Room