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Music

Conroe Symphony Orchestra Welcomes Greek First Female Conductor

CONROE, TX – Athens, Greece-native Anna-Maria Gkouni was officially welcomed as the Conroe Symphony Orchestra’s first female conductor by the Board of Directors at a small reception March 16 at the Conroe Symphony Centre, Hello Woodlands (HW) reported. 

Board of Directors Chair, The Honorable Kathleen Hamilton announced that Gkouni “takes the reins as the Symphony’s new Conductor and Music Director,” HW reported, adding that “Gkouni is set to lead the all-volunteer Symphony in its 24th Season, which hopes to begin performing again this summer.”

Gkouni, a Greek orchestral conductor, pianist, and piano instructor, has musical interests spanning genres “from classical to jazz and traditional music to more electronic and progressive sounds,” HW reported. She earner a piano performance and a music theory degree from Philippos Nakas Conservatory. After earning her BA from Ionian University in Corfu, Gkouni “moved to Nebraska to pursue her MA in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and currently is pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Houston,” HW reported, noting that “Gkouni has attended masterclasses with international pianists and conductors, such as pianist Lucas Debargue and the conductor of Boston Pops, Keith Lockhart.” 

Her awards and honors include the Schissler Foundation Fellowship, the University of Houston Graduate Tuition Fellowship, and the Hellenic Professional Society of Texas Award. 

Professor Franz Anton Krager has said that “Anna Maria is a natural talent… As a young and aspiring conductor, I would place Anna Maria Gkouni in the top 1% of her peers,” HW reported. 

“To lead the Conroe Symphony Orchestra is a dream come true,” Gkouni said, HW reported. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to conduct this exceptionally talented group of musicians. My greatest aspiration for the future is to create innovative shows that will combine multiple forms of art such as theater, which is my second passion. We are all very much looking forward to bringing music back to the city of Conroe.”

Dr. Don Hutson “led the search for the new conductor, and served as the Music Director for 13 years,” HW reported. He said of Gkouni, “she’s precisely the fresh new talent that is needed to take the Conroe Symphony Orchestra in a bold new direction. As Board members our desire is to create experiential new works of art that help expand the reach of the orchestra. I believe that Anna-Maria will take us there,” HW reported.

The date has not yet been announced for the first performance of the Conroe Symphony Orchestra under Gkouni’s direction, but there is hope “it will be sometime this summer,” HW reported.

The Conroe Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1997 and has been led by several fine musicians including Dr. Robert Zwick, Dr. Don Hutson, and Dr. Jacob Sustaita. The Conroe Symphony Orchestra was created to contribute to the cultural enrichment of the community, assuring a better quality of life for the Conroe area. Its objective is to provide the region with the best possible musical experience, while creating music lovers and connecting community.

More information is available online: conroesymphony.org or follow on Facebook @ConroeSymphonyOrchestra.

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This article is part of a continuing series dealing with reports of Greek POWs in Asia Minor in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Makedonia in July 1936.

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