Alexa Sangbin Thomson, Professional Performance Certificate (PPC) recipient in 2016, has just won a coveted position as a community embedded musician in the Houston Symphony. Alexa came to Penn State from New Zealand to study with Prof. Tim Deighton, and used her PPC year at Penn State to prepare for graduate auditions. She was accepted and received scholarships at top schools, and recently completed her master’s degree from Rice University.
She was one of 106 international applicants for the Houston Symphony’s Community-Embedded Musician Program (CEM), and of those, 45 were invited to Houston for live auditions, interviews and teaching demonstrations with local school children, with two selected. They join two other musicians in the CEM program.
Pam Blaine, Chief of Education and Community Engagement, said that Community-Embedded Musicians must be “world-class artists who can perform with the Houston Symphony, then turn right around the next day and engage and enthrall a classroom of grade schoolers, teaching them how to find meaning in art.”
The Community-Embedded Musician initiative has allowed the Houston Symphony to provide over 1,000 community activities annually, in hospitals, schools, community centers and myriad other venues. They educate, engage and excite thousands of children and adults through hundreds of interactions in underserved areas. The four CEM musicians have up to 40 opportunities each year to perform as part of the Houston Symphony. However, they spend the great majority (over 80%) of their time planning and engaging in education and community programs throughout Greater Houston. “These musicians are on a journey to transform lives daily in Houston's diverse communities,” wrote Blaine.
“I am incredibly excited to be a Community-Embedded Musician,” said Alexa. “Perhaps the most exciting thing for me about this particular setup is the ability to work with a team of people dedicated towards this common goal, sharing ideas and inspirations, feeding each other's creativity and passion and making these connections happen.”