From January 6-8, 2023, the Houston Symphony and Principal POPS conductor Steven Reineke return to the Jones Hall stage to recreate the iconic hits of two classic rock legends with The Music of Elton John and Billy Joel. Incredible piano-and-vocal talent Michael Cavanaugh—handpicked by Billy Joel to recreate his music in the Broadway musical Movin’ Out—delivers electrifying renditions of fan-favorite hits including “Tiny Dancer,” “Uptown Girl,” “Your Song,” “New York State of Mind,” “Saturday Night’s Alright,” and many more. Tickets are selling fast—get yours now at houstonsymphony.org.
American singer-songwriter Billy Joel and British artist Elton John are among the best-selling music artists of all time and have been household names since the ’70s. With outstanding albums like The Stranger, Glass Houses, and 52nd Street, Billy Joel’s legacy has had an undeniable influence on classic rock music for decades. Also rising to superstardom in the 1970s, British singer-songwriter and pianist Elton John solidified himself as one of the most iconic performers of our time, with over 30 albums to his name. Known for his hit singles “Your Song,” “Rocket Man,” and “Honky Cat,” it is no surprise that these two legendary classic rock icons have collaborated in the past for one of the greatest concert pairings in music history.
On January 6-8, concertgoers can ring in the new year by showing off their best classic rockstar attire at the lobby photo booth and enjoy a specialty “SPARKLE” cocktail. Tickets are available now via houstonsymphony.org.
HOUSTON SYMPHONY PRESENTS THE MUSIC OF ELTON JOHN AND BILLY JOEL
Friday, December 6-7 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 8 at 2:30 p.m.
Michael Cavanaugh, piano-and-vocal talent
Steven Reineke, conductor
About Steven Reineke
Steven Reineke has established himself as one of North America’s leading conductors of popular music. In addition to his role as Principal POPS Conductor of the Houston Symphony, this season, he celebrates his 10th anniversary as music director of The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall. Additionally, he is principal pops conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Steven is a frequent guest conductor with The Philadelphia Orchestra and his extensive North American conducting appearances include Atlanta, Cincinnati, Edmonton, San Francisco, and Sarasota.
On stage, he has created programs and collaborated with a range of leading artists from the worlds of hip hop, Broadway, television, and rock, including Common, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Sutton Foster, Megan Hilty, Cheyenne Jackson, Wayne Brady, Peter Frampton, and Ben Folds, among others. In 2017, he was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered leading the National Symphony Orchestra, in a first for the show’s 45-year history, performing live music excerpts between news segments. In 2018, Steven led the same orchestra and hip hop legend Nas performing his seminal album, Illmatic, on PBS’s Great Performances.
As the creator of more than 100 orchestral arrangements for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Steven’s work has been performed worldwide, and can be heard on numerous Cincinnati Pops Orchestra recordings on the Telarc label. His symphonic works Celebration Fanfare, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Casey at the Bat are performed frequently in North America, including performances by the New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic. His Sun Valley Festival Fanfare commemorated the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s pavilion, and his Festival Te Deum and Swans Island Sojourn were debuted by the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops Orchestras. His numerous wind ensemble compositions are published by the C.L. Barnhouse Company and are performed by concert bands worldwide.
A native of Ohio, Steven is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, where he earned Bachelor of Music degrees with honors in both trumpet performance and music composition. He lives in New York City with his husband, Eric Gabbard.
About Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh is the voice of the American Rock & Roll Songbook, made famous for his piano/lead vocals in the Broadway musical Movin’ Out. Handpicked by Billy Joel, Cavanaugh evokes a style rivaling the Piano Man. He appeared in the show for three years with more than 1,200 performances, receiving multiple accolades.
Michael began playing at age seven. Encouraged by family and friends, and inspired by his hero Billy Joel, Michael formed his first band at age ten and began playing local functions. His first full-time gig was an extended engagement in Orlando, Florida, at a piano bar called Blazing Pianos.
In 1999, Michael received an offer that would unknowingly change his life: an opportunity to play Las Vegas at the famed New York, New York Hotel and Casino. There, Billy Joel spotted Michael and joined him on stage one fateful night in 2001. It only took two songs before Billy was convinced he had found his new Piano Man. Michael moved to New York City to work alongside Joel and Twyla Tharp to shape Broadway’s Movin’ Out. In the lead role, he received both Tony and Grammy nominations.
With the close of Movin’ Out, Michael began touring worldwide in his own right, creating a show that reinterprets the modern pop/rock songbook: The Music of Billy Joel and Elton John. He soon became one of the hottest artists in the private events market and continues to perform worldwide.
It wasn’t long before symphony orchestras discovered Michael’s talents and audience appeal. He accepted his first orchestral booking, Michael Cavanaugh – The Songs of Billy Joel and More, in 2008. Other programs followed: The Songs of Elton John and More, Singers and Songwriters: The Music of Paul Simon, Neil Diamond and James Taylor, and Rockin’ Christmas with the Pops. He continues to tour all four productions.
In 2008, he signed with Warner/ADA to distribute his first CD, In Color. The Way I Hear It, his second album, released in 2017 and debuted at #17 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Michael has reached the POLLSTAR Live75, the country’s top 75 active touring acts.
About Houston Symphony
For Juraj Valčuha’s inaugural season as Music Director, the Houston Symphony continues its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring, and recording activities. One of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas, the Symphony held its inaugural performance at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston on June 21, 1913. Today, with an operating budget of $34.325 million (FY23), the full-time ensemble of professional musicians presents more than 130 concerts annually, making it the largest performing arts organization in Houston. Traditionally, musicians of the orchestra and the Symphony’s two Community-Embedded Musicians also offer over 1,000 community-based performances each year at various schools, community centers, hospitals, and churches reaching more than 200,000 people in Greater Houston annually.
After suspending concert activities in March 2020 and cancelling the remainder of 2019–20 events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Symphony resumed activities in May 2020, opening the 2020–21 Season on schedule in September 2020. The Symphony successfully completed a full 2020–21 season with in-person audiences and weekly livestreams of each performance, making it one of the only orchestras in the world to do so, while the Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement team continued to fulfill its mission through creative and virtual means throughout the COVID pandemic.
The Grammy Award-winning Houston Symphony has recorded under various prestigious labels, including Koch International Classics, Naxos, RCA Red Seal, Telarc, Virgin Classics, and, most recently, Dutch recording label Pentatone. In 2017, the Houston Symphony was awarded an ECHO Klassik award for the live recording of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck under the direction of former Music Director Hans Graf. The orchestra earned its first Grammy nomination and Grammy Award at the 60th annual ceremony for the same recording in the Best Opera Recording category.
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