New organization brings classical music to the suburbs

When Caroline Ewan fell in love with the violin at 8 years old, she knew it was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

Years later, the Rice University graduate student has debuted a new symphony—Cypress Symphony—in her hometown with the help of some fellow university students and community members.

"I want to stir passion in a community for classical music, especially in Cypress," Ewan said. "I have a lot of colleagues at Rice who are talented but don't have jobs. There is also a love for classical music in [Cy-Fair], but people don't want to drive all the way into downtown."

Ewan has a long history with music. She decided to pursue it at an early age when a classmate brought her violin to Ewan's third-grade class and she could not get enough. Aside from her graduate studies at Rice, Ewan gives private music lessons to 16 students from her parent's home in Cypress.

"It's important to educate children in school about what you can do with music," she said. "It's good for them to have a sense of music."

Ewan's desire to instill an appreciation for music in others was one reason for organizing the Cypress Symphony, which is one of only a handful in Harris County, aside from the Houston Symphony and the Symphony of North Houston. A symphony, which consists of woodwind, brass and wind instruments, can play anything from John Lennon to Johannes Brahms, Ewan said.

For the Cypress Symphony's first season, the musicians will start out as a chamber orchestra with 30-40 players and perform about three times. A full-scale symphony typically consists of 70-100 members. Musicians within a symphony can play a range of instruments such as violin, viola, cello, base, harp, flute, clarinet, trombone or percussion.

"[Cypress Symphony] is different than a normal symphony because it's more interactive," Ewan said. "You'll see young, passionate musicians who love what they do. We talk about what music we are playing and what the pieces mean to us."

This year, the Cypress Symphony will perform at local venues such as Lone Star College–CyFair and the Berry Center. Over time, Ewan hopes to play in surrounding areas, such as LSC–Tomball and in The Woodlands, as other facilities open up. Interested musicians in the community can try out to perform in the symphony.

"I want a place for the community to go for art," Ewan said. "I want to create an arts culture in Cypress."

The Cypress Symphony is run based solely on donations, and interested community members have the opportunity to sign up for annual membership levels and benefits online at Donations go toward paying for music, a conductor, rentals and venue spaces.