Performing Arts Houston Presents New/Now: The Houston Artist Commissioning Project

(Houston)- Performing Arts Houston presents four new works by Houston artists, February 24-25 at the Wortham Center’s Cullen Theater. Each world premiere is part of New/Now: The Houston Artist Commissioning Project, a Performing Arts Houston initiative that supports new multi-disciplinary works by Houston artists and centers artists who historically have not had access to Houston’s largest and most iconic theater spaces in the Theater District. Tickets are $25, at

“Houston has an extraordinary wealth of artists creating important work that shares culture, celebrates our differences and unites our similarities.”  says Performing Arts Houston President and CEO Meg Booth. “It is imperative that we shine a light on this work and put this kaleidoscope of artists, stories, and ideas on stage in Houston’s Theater District, in our largest and most celebrated stages. New/Now is an artistic journey you won’t see anywhere else in our city.”

The four artists reflect the diversity of our community, and represent a wide range of arts disciplines, cultural backgrounds, and creative visions. Each artist will also work alongside Performing Arts Houston’s Education and Community Engagement department to create bespoke educational experiences for Houston-area students and art lovers.

Anthony Brandt is a composer, researcher, author, educator, and Artistic Director of Musiqa, an award-winning new music ensemble. Diabelli 200 is part musical performance, part science experiment. The music follows the form of a theme and variations based on the theme of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations. At the same time, neuro-engineer Pepe Contreras-Vidal and his University of Houston BRAIN Center team are pioneering ways of examining the brain in real world settings. The pianist and conductor are wearing portable EEG caps, monitoring the synchronization of their brains during the rehearsals and performances. By featuring derivations from a common source, a theme and variations externalizes features of the creative process, including the proliferation of options and increasing distortions as time passes.

Composer and cinematographer J.E. Hernández is a Mexican-born, Houston-based composer focused on elevating personal and cultural narrative. Desert Shelter, for string sextet and choreography, is inspired by the struggles and resilience of migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert in search of a better life. The piece features three continuous movements, each representing different geographical locations and themes within the desert landscape. The music and movement reflect the emotions and challenges they face along the way, from the heat and dryness of the desert and dangers of crossing the Rio Grande, to the struggles and triumphs of reaching the mountain summit.

Born and raised in Luanda, Angola, Vivalda Ndula is one of the voices of the new generation of Angolan musicians. As an activist, singer-songwriter, percussionist, and dancer, Ndula is a significant cultural and international impact on today’s Angolan music. Mbandu Ni Mbandu means “Side By Side” and it´s sung in Angola’s native language Kimbundu. It’s a journey into Ndula’s inner self and her belief in a utopic world where we can live together, despite where we come from—our culture, and our beliefs—if we give ourselves the opportunity to learn from and embrace the differences that highlight our uniqueness and extraordinary qualities as individuals.

Born in Karachi and raised in Saudi Arabia, Tazeen Zahida writes plays in English and Urdu. Through her work, Tazeen intends to bring hard-to-tell (yet enthralling) stories to life. And The Clay Pot Speaketh is a hybrid musical pantomime and tableau. South Asia’s most beloved folktale, the tragic love story of Sohni and Mahiwaal is presented from a new perspective, that of the Clay Pot, “Gharya”. Having been neglected by centuries of storytellers, the Clay Pot tries to claim its rightful role in this epic tale of forbidden love. Classic South Asian instrumental tracks and action add new dimension to a story that’s truly a telltale account of a complex cultural heritage.

Surrounding the world premieres of their commissioned work, the four artists will take part in a variety of education and community engagement programs, to share their art and stories with audiences beyond the stage. On February 24, artists Vivalda Ndula and Anthony Brandt will participate in an Open Rehearsal and post-show panel with students from local schools, many of which participate in Performing Arts Houston’s in-school residency, the Collaborative Arts Project. Also on February 24, artist J.E. Hernández, in partnership with Advocates of a Latino Museum of Cultural and Visual Arts & Archive Complex in Houston, Harris County (ALMAAHH) will hold a community conversation open to all and inspired by Hernández’s work. Following the performance, New/Now artists and collaborators will join CEO Meg Booth for a post-show panel discussion about their works and inspirations.

About Performing Arts Houston
For over 55 years, Performing Arts Houston has connected audiences with exceptional artists through diverse performances and learning experiences throughout Houston communities and schools. We welcome all to ignite and cultivate passion for the performing arts and explore the vast landscape of artistic expression to discover new understanding about ourselves, create community, inspire dialogue, and enrich our world.
Performing Arts Houston Education and Community Programs leverage the individual talents of the remarkable artists we present on stage to curate programs for schools and our community to Access, Discover, and Create in the performing arts. More at

Ticket Information
Tickets are $25. Tickets can be purchased through the Performing Arts Houston website at or by calling our box office at (713) 227-4772. To support the arts, save up to 25%, and access exclusive live arts experiences, become a Performing Arts Houston member at

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New/Now: The Houston Artist Commissioning Project
February 24-25, 2023
7:30 pm
Cullen Theater
Tickets are $25

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Media Contact:
Caroline Senter