Violinist Jenna Barghouti, a student of Jorja Fleezanis, is one of four string musicians recruited by the Houston Symphony to be part of an initiative announced earlier this year to embed musicians more deeply in the community. The four musicians/educators will focus on enhancing the orchestra’s growing education and community engagement activities while also performing on stage for select Houston Symphony performances.
David D. Connor, double bass; Anthony Parce, viola; Hellen Weberpal, cello; and Barghouti are part of the first group of Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musicians (CEM), who will spend most of their time in schools, neighborhoods, and healthcare settings beginning in the fall of 2015. Each one of these musicians is a practicing professional musician with the complementary skills and sensibilities of an educator, who will teach and engage people in learning experiences in, through, and about music.
Among other new and expanded community activities, these musicians will be part of a music and wellness program aimed at increasing the quality of healthcare through music. In addition, they will be heavily involved in education programs targeted at improving problem solving, critical thinking, and essential life skills in students.
All four Community-Embedded Musicians will perform on stage with members of the symphony in approximately 25 concerts each year. The orchestra intends to add more of these musicians over the next two seasons, providing ever-increasing levels of service and music education to the rapidly growing Houston region.
“Becoming a Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musician is a dream come true,” said Barghouti. “Playing with one of the leading orchestras in the country while helping empower the local community through music is an ideal start to my career as a performer and an educator. I am quite fortunate to be given this opportunity to professionally fulfill both of my passions. I could not be more excited to be a member of the very first CEM team, and I look forward to working with the talented musicians and leadership of the Houston Symphony to further grow and develop this inspiring program.”
The creation and launch of the Community-Embedded Musicians program has been made possible through the early investment of generous supporters, including the Spec’s Charitable Foundation, Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, BBVA Compass, and Mr. Monzer Hourani, all longtime leadership supporters of the Houston Symphony.
Barghouti grew up in the West Bank, Palestine, before coming to the United States when she was 16 years old. She has taught violin to underserved children in both the Fairview Project in Bloomington, Ind., and in her home country. Barghouti, an associate instructor at Indiana University’s Pre-College String Academy and substitute violin for the Philadelphia Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony, is fully bilingual in Arabic and English. She is currently pursuing a Performer’s Diploma in violin performance at the Jacobs School of Music. She earned her undergraduate degree in violin performance from the Jacobs School under the supervision of Mimi Zweig.