Young violist preps for 30th annual Texas Music Festival before his original work played by Houston Symphony

Recent University of Houston graduate, violist and composer Kyle Rivera is one of six students from UH’s Moores School of Music and Rice University’s Shepherd School selected to compose an original work for the Houston Symphony.

World Refugee Day is on June 20. The Houston Symphony is preparing to celebrate Houston's  refugee communities in its upcoming performance on June 11 at White Oak Music Hall.

The 23-year-old's composition was inspired by Shinga, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  As a boy, Shinga played games like soccer during the day.  The scenery in his country was beautiful with picturesque rivers and lakes.  At night, the children were told stories about a monster named Nyoko Wakumba, a metaphor for the rebels who kidnapped children in the night.  Shinga now lives in Houston and works for Interfaith Ministries to help resettle other refugees.

Rivera feels he can relate to Shinga as a refugee in his own right, his family having moved to Houston from New Orleans to flee the destruction of Hurricane Katrina.  He was 9 and experienced what it’s like to have to start all over in a new place.

Violinist, general and artistic director for the Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival, Alan Austin shared details about the 30th Anniversary of the festival. Austin performed in the inaugural Texas Music Festival in 1990.

Rivera will perform at the festival, which will take place at the University of Houston Moores Opera Houston and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on June 8 through 29.

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