Bank helps bring sound of live classical music to Houston classrooms

October 23, 2015

It’s the sound of live classical music, and BBVA Compass is helping to bring it into the classrooms at Crespo Elementary School in Southeast Houston.

The bank teamed up with the Houston Symphony and the Houston Independent School District to launch the Houston Symphony School Residency at Crespo Elementary, the first program of its kind in the city. Two of the symphony’s Community-Embedded Musicians are leading classroom interactions designed to enrich the lives of every third-, fourth- and fifth-grade student at Crespo. BBVA Compass is funding the program, which is structured around lessons, instrument demonstrations and performances.

“This partnership is close to our hearts because it supports our efforts to bring the arts to everyone in our communities, and it’s especially rewarding to bring the magic of music to students of this age,” said BBVA Compass Chairman and CEO Manolo Sánchez, who also serves as a governing director on the Houston Symphony’s board of trustees. “We are honored to be part of this innovative effort, where the public, private and nonprofit sectors come together to enrich young lives.”

The three-year pilot program launched in September for the 2015-16 school year. The students will interact with the Houston Symphony Community Embedded Musicians bi-weekly during the school year through recorder instruction and composition projects, instrument demonstrations, interactive chamber concerts and more.

“The program brings the impact of orchestral music off of the stage and into the classroom in a more in-depth and comprehensive way than ever before in Houston,” said Houston Symphony Executive Director/CEO Mark C. Hanson.

An arts magnet school, Crespo Elementary boasts a school-wide fine arts program where every child from third grade to fifth grade has the opportunity to specialize in either art, band, dance, drama or technology. The Houston Symphony School Residency program will bring Crespo students and their families outside of the school and into full concert experiences as part of the Houston Symphony’s student concert series at Jones Hall.

“What makes this program unique and relevant is not just the fact that these young minds will get to learn how to compose or perform music from talented orchestral musicians, but the fact that it will help their parents and teachers alike better understand why music is an essential element of the classroom and why it is critical to students’ achievement outcomes,” said HISD Chief Academic Officer Andrew Houlihan.

The program also aligns with the bank’s efforts to invest in initiatives that provide access to the arts to those in underserved areas. Crespo has a student population that’s 95 percent economically disadvantaged and 97 percent Hispanic, and the residency program will reach more than 400 students each year.

It also supports the bank’s efforts to help build a pipeline of the kinds of creative thinkers Houston needs to sustain its lead in some of the most demanding disciplines that would seem to have nothing to do with the arts — medicine, space exploration, energy, to name a few.

“We are true believers in the power of the arts to spark that kind of creativity,” Sánchez said. “We’re committed to the Crespo program for all of those reasons. We’re also committed to it because it will bring the magic of classical music to students who might otherwise be unable to experience it, and because it’s already helping those students see the world in wonderful new ways.” 

Sánchez pointed to Crespo fifth-grader Aldahir Castillo, who was asked for his impressions after his class with Community-Embedded Musician David Connor. 

“When I hear the music, it reminds me of my mom,” he said. “Because they’re both beautiful.”



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