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Meet Timothy Hester of University of Houston’s Moores School of Music and Texas Music Festival

Today we’d like to introduce you to Timothy Hester.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I am the son of former Houston Symphony Musicians, Byron and Barbara Hester, who played flute and oboe in the orchestra for about 40 years each. They felt it was important for me to have music lessons, so I began piano lessons at the age of 5, eventually studying privately with UH Professor Albert Hirsh. By the age of 16, I began teaching little children piano in our neighborhood and eventually went to Rice University (not for music) and after two years, transferred to the University of Houston to study music.

After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree, I went to New York City and studied at The Juilliard School with famed pedagogue, Adele Marcus. I spent 10 years in NYC and then came back to live and work in Houston. I have been on the UH faculty for 28 years now and all along have been teaching and performing. My performances have been not only in Houston and New York but all over the world. I believe that being immersed in music from a young age is what helped me understand the art and, fortunately, my experiences have been positive, so my love for music has been nurtured and continues to grow.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I decided to go to Rice University and not study music, I actually stopped playing piano for about 18 months. This was very frustrating because every now and then I would sit down and try to play, but couldn’t play anything well at all. I eventually decided that I needed to get back to music as my main focus. All of the academic studies at Rice did me a lot of good, but I missed music!

Studying at The Juilliard School in Lincoln Center was a great experience, but it was both inspiring and yet difficult to be surrounded by hugely-talented pianists. Somehow I developed a way of practicing without letting the competitive spirit get me down. I found that a good artist must be not only passionate and inspired and dedicated, but must also possess enormous patience and try to maintain a long-term perspective. This attitude helped to carry me through.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about University of Houston’s Moores School of Music and Texas Music Festival – what should we know?
I am currently Professor of Piano and Director of Keyboard Collaborative Arts at the Moores School of Music. I also have been on the Faculty of Texas Music Festival for over 20 years. During this internationally-recognized festival, I usually perform chamber music concerts as well as accompany for the concerto competition held for the orchestra members who compete for a chance to play a concerto with the orchestra.

This summer (June 16th), the Festival Director, Alan Austin, kindly invited me to perform the Brahms Piano Concerto #2 with the Orchestra and famed German Conductor, Horst Forster. It will definitely be a highlight of my time at the Festival and I am too grateful for this opportunity! I would say that I am mainly known as a collaborative pianist, so a concerto such as this is the ultimate form of chamber music that demands heightened listening from every musician on the stage.

I think that our program at the University of Houston for Collaborative pianists is different from others because it trains our students not only to be soloists but also collaborators – and we help them to excel in both realms.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Aside from my parents, mentioned earlier, I have been inspired by so many people. The most important person who inspires me to continue to evolve is my wife, Jasmine Hatem, who is on the piano faculty at the University of St. Thomas in the Montrose area of Houston – she is a magnificent source of support and I always summon my strength when I know that her heart is with me.

Other musicians who inspire me are people such as composer David Ashley White, recently-deceased violinist Fredell Lack, flutist Paula Robison and many other wonderful colleagues with whom I have had the privilege to work and hear perform. I am also terrifically inspired by hearing my students develop – not just UH students, but my young private students as well.

And hearing my 7-year-old son, Byron, practice piano every day helps me to remember what is was like to practice as a youngster – so he definitely deserves credit because he helps me connect to my past – and for this, I am so grateful.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: (713) 743-3167
  • Email:
  • Instagram: txmusicfestival
  • Facebook: TexasMusicFestival.uh
  • Twitter: @TXmusicfestival

Image Credit:
Evin Thayer Studios

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