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Houston Chronicle Article

An Article Posted by the Houston Chronicle

The original article can be found here:
http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/cyfair/news/article/Grace-Symphony-Orchestra-in-Cypress-to-debut-5930223.php

Grace Symphony Orchestra is preparing for its debut concert, just in time to double as a Christmas celebration.

The program, entitled "The Gift," is slated for 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 21 at the Berry Center, 8877 Barker Cypress. Tickets are $20.

"It's going to be family friendly show, and we're just going to have a lot of fun together," founder and music director John Ricarte said. "There will be a few sing-a-longs and a couple of surprises along the way."

He said the new ensemble is unique.

The performances will incorporate classical music, drama, dance and art and the focus will be spiritual.

Ricarte has worked to realize his vision for the orchestra for some time.

 

"It's been almost a decade actually," he admitted.

Originally from Portugal, Ricarte came to the United States when he was 19 to pursue his bachelor's degree with a double major in music and speech communication from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio.

He discovered a love for conducting and returned to his studies to earn his masters of music in orchestral conducting at Michigan State University and then a doctorate of musical arts in orchestral conducting at theUniversity of South Carolina.

He served as assistant conductor for the University of South Carolina symphony and chamber orchestras, and then in 2005, he traveled to Romania and conducted the Satu-Mare State Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ricarte now serves as music director and conductor of the Brazosport Symphony Orchestra, as well as fine arts chair and orchestra director at Cypress-Falls High School.

"I love to teach," Ricarte said. "I love coming to work every day, and I love the kids."

Ricarte was the music director and conductor of the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra for 10 years.

He now lives in Spring with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Allie, 15.

Ricarte believes he had divine inspiration for the idea of Grace Symphony Orchestra.

"I don't think I came up with this by myself," he said. "I think God inspired me to come up with this idea, I really do."

Ricarte said he wanted to do something unique.

"I had this idea that it would be really interesting to do something different and give a different perspective to the orchestra," he said. "The idea is to uplift people and get people to think about the Almighty. That is all I ask for, to get people thinking about beauty and grace."

The first steps were to establish a nonprofit, set a mission and establish a vision.

"Now we have all of that," Ricarte said. "And musicians are being assembled as we speak."

"We hope people come and get inspired, maybe even to be part of the project," Ricarte said.

Debbie Garcia is one community members on the board of the nonprofit.

She has known Ricarte since 2009.

"I really adore him and really admire him," Garcia said. "It was an honor that he thought of me for the board."

She met with Ricarte during the summer to hear about his vision for the orchestra.

"As a Christian, I thought, 'This is perfect,'" she said. "He's trying to uplift people's spirits through music."

Garcia pointed out a quote by Johann Sebastian Bach: "The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul."

She feels the line reflects Ricarte's goals.

Donors and volunteers are still needed to help get this professional orchestra off the ground.

To purchase tickets and for more information on volunteering, visit www.gracesymphony.org