In both her professional career as a clinical social worker and her volunteer life as a violinist and board president for the Texas Medical Center Orchestra, Ariela Alpert has been a vehicle for positive change. In recognition of her achievements, Alpert is the recipient of Houston Woman Magazine’s 2011 Evolving Eve Award. She was honored at the Fifth Annual Nominate HER Awards luncheon on May 24 at the La Colombe d’Or Mansion.
Several of Alpert’s friends and members of the TMCO nominated her for the award. Among those who sent recommendations were Libi Lebel, founder and music director of TMCO; Dr. Daniel Musher, TMCO concertmaster and violinist; and Maryellen Shea, TMCO advisory board member and violinist.
In his nomination letter, Dr. Musher said, “As president of the Texas Medical Center Orchestra, Ariela Alpert has shown remarkable vision and leadership, as well as intense commitment to an orchestra that provides musical opportunities for performers and concertgoers from a wide segment of society, while supporting important charitable and educational causes in the community.”
Alpert has been with the orchestra as a violinist and board member since its inception in 2000 as the Doctor’s Orchestra of Houston. Two years later, she was named board president. However, she took a leave of absence as president in order to open a private practice in individual and family psychodynamic psychotherapy. In addition to working with trauma victims, her practice specializes in helping families with members suffering from neurological disorders such as MS and Parkinson’s.
Two years ago, when the TMCO board needed her to step in as president again, Alpert resumed her role with aplomb. Since then, the orchestra has gone through a series of transformations for the better, including changing the name from Doctor’s Orchestra to TMCO.
Alpert said, “I decided to change the name from the Doctor’s Orchestra to The Medical Center Orchestra for our 10th Anniversary. I thought we should go in a different direction, become more inclusive, so we could get more musicians. We’re not all doctors in the orchestra. There are nurses; I’m a social worker. There are all kinds of people in health care, and it just wasn’t the right name anymore.”
In addition to making the orchestra more inclusive, Alpert has been instrumental in growing the orchestra in number and exposure. A collaboration with Bayou City Performing Arts led to an annual concert at the Round Top Music Festival. Under her leadership, the orchestra grew to a full-sized symphony of 75 members with six major performances a year. Those and other performances throughout the year help to support medical and educational charities.
Since her return to the presidency, Alpert has instituted two significant charitable partnerships in the Houston community. The most recent was with the Multiple Sclerosis Society: Lone Star. The TMCO sponsored a bike ride called a Gran Fondo: Texas TMCO on April 3 in preparation for the MS 150. It was followed by a concert on May 8 at which checks for $27,500 each was presented to the MS Society and TMCO. The ride will become an annual event to raise funds for both groups.
The other relationship Alpert established was with the KIPP Schools to integrate classical music into the curriculum of students who otherwise might not be exposed. The students are given free tickets to concerts and participate in class projects inspired by music. In one such project, the KIPP students took photos inspired by Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
Alpert explained, “They took photos of dilapidated, old-city Houston and, later, the new buildings that were put up. So, they differentiated between old Houston and new Houston. Also, there are a lot of immigrant families there at KIPP, so they looked at coming from the old country to the new country. So, there were many different ideas based on the fact that we were doing the New World Symphony, and what it meant to these kids.”
The students in KIPP SHARP’s choir sang on stage at the Wortham Theater at a performance with the orchestra. Due in large part to Alpert’s efforts, the choir will perform again at Carnegie Hall in New York with the TMCO and Bayou City Performing Arts in 2013.
Alpert’s contributions to the orchestra and her patients have enriched both the community and herself.
She said, “I invest a lot of time in this group, but the payoff is that I have such a wonderful experience musically. I have two passions: the social work field where I’m really having an impact on individuals and see healing happening; and I also see healing happening in the music world, too. Everyone comes to rehearsal exhausted, and this is his or her sanctuary, and it’s my sanctuary. It’s my place to have my own connection to my own healing through music, and it really provides that for many of our members. So, I get that in my professional life where I get paid for it, and in my volunteer life where I get paid in my own person well-being.”
2011 HER Award Sponsors
Fashion Design Department of Houston Community College
Houston Community College
Marnoble Computer Sales & Service
Shea Writing & Training Solutions
The Vicki Milazzo Institute
Unity Church of North Houston
Wright Pawn & Jewelry Co.
Thanks also to these Friends of the 2011 Nominate HER Awards Program for their support and generous contributions.
Flowers by Nino
Minuteman Press Post Oak
The Perfect Touch Linens