UH's Aura Contemporary Ensemble Kicks Off Fall Performances with 'Synthesis' Sept. 29

On Sept. 29, bold ideas will converge with precision musicianship and compelling performances during “Synthesis.” Presented by Aura, the University of Houston’s contemporary ensemble, this concert will spotlight music from five composers – including an alumnus and a former faculty member.

“Synthesis” kicks off at 7:30 p.m. in UH’s Moores Opera House (Entrance 16 off of Cullen Boulevard). Tickets are $12 and $7 for seniors and students. They can be purchased at the Moores Box Office by calling 713-743-3313 or online.

Works performed will follow the “Synthesis” theme offering music that brings together varied instrumentation and musical concepts.

“Audiences can hear a wide variety of music performed by some of the best players in UH’s Moores School of Music,” said Rob Smith, director of Aura. “Each piece is completely different and pulls from an assortment of musical styles.”

Works to be performed during “Synthesis” include:

  • “Chamber Concerto for English Horn and String Quartet” by Michael Horvit (former UH professor): This 25-minute piece will feature UH Moores School of Music professor Dan Gelok on saxophone accompanied by a string quartet.
  • “From Nourlangie” and “Little Serenade” by Peter Sculthorpe: Hailed as one of Australia’s greatest composers, Sculthorpe was renowned for his synthesis of Aboriginal music and western music and often took inspiration from the Australian landscape. “From Nourlangie” reflects the composer’s feelings after visiting Australia’s Kakadu Park. “Little Serenade” (featuring a string quartet) was originally the title song for 1968 film “Age of Consent” before being replaced due to technical reasons.
  • “Six Degree of Separation” by Brooke Joyce: Strings and woodwinds connect Joyce’s compositional influences including Steve Reich, Igor Stravisnsky, Joan Tower and Magnus Lindberg.
  • “Folksongs” by Hannah Lash: This piece utilizes flute, harp and percussion (including the African doumbek) and is inspired by both ethnic folk music and western compositions. Musicians will perform at different meters throughout this work.
  • “L’Evidence Enternelle” by Phillip Elder: Alumnus Elder, a recent winner of the Sarofim Composition Competition, created this piece for violin, viola and piano. Inspired by the art of Houston’s Menil Collection, Elder’s composition made its debut in that museum earlier this year.


Led by Rob Smith, UH associate professor of composition, AURA is dedicated to the performance of contemporary chamber music, with an emphasis on works that represent the trends and styles of the last two decades. Under Smith’s direction, the ensemble performs a wide variety of American and international composers’ works. Noted artists such as Samuel Adler, Richard Rodney Bennett, Stephen Montague, Joan Tower and Dan Welcher have visited campus to hear AURA’s interpretations of their compositions. The ensemble is also dedicated to collaboration with dance and has presented many concerts with the UH Dance Ensemble and the Sandra Organ Dance Company.

The Moores School of Music is one of the premier music schools in America. Offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, it serves approximately 600 students annually. Areas of study include composition, conducting, performance, theory and musicology. Its faculty consists of internationally recognized performers, composers and scholars. Among its ensembles are the Moores School Symphony Orchestra, Moores Jazz Ensemble, Moores Opera Center, Concert Chorale, Concert Women’s Chorus, Spirit of Houston Cougar Marching Band, Wind Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble. A majority of the school’s concerts are performed in the 800-seat Moores Opera House. For more details on the Moores School of Music, visit http://www.music.uh.edu/.