American Festival for the Arts, 2007 Summer Music Conservatory and Concert Series

AFA Mission and History


American Festival for the Arts (AFA) was established in 1993 to provide accessible, high-quality music education and performance opportunities for youth and to broaden the audience for both new American works and the standard classical music repertory.


American Festival for the Arts (AFA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) music education and concert presenting organization based in Houston, Texas.

In the summer of 1996, AFA reached its goal of establishing an annual Summer Music Conservatory and Concert Series for the youth and communities of Houston, Texas. Through its twelve year history, the Conservatory has experienced significant annual growth in enrollment, faculty, curriculum offerings, special projects and collaborations and has become recognized as one of the most important annual events in Houston’s cultural life and a model for programs of its kind around the nation.

As part of its tenth anniversary celebration in 2005, AFA reached another milestone in its history by opening a second campus in Beaumont serving the five county Southeast Texas region that includes Chambers, Hardin, Jefferson, Liberty and Orange counties. This new campus, based on AFA’s successful Houston model, has significantly extended AFA’s mission and goals throughout the Gulf Coast region.

With campuses located at Episcopal High School (Houston) and Austin Middle School (Beaumont), the Conservatory takes place during June and July, enrolls talented fifth through twelfth grade students from middle and senior high schools in the communities in and around each campus and provides important need-based tuition scholarship support for deserving students. The Conservatory includes programs for high school wind, brass, string, piano, harp, percussion, jazz, choral and composition students, middle school string students and, through those programs, presents spirited orchestra, chamber music, choral, jazz and faculty concerts free of charge to the general public in each community.

AFA’s 1996 Conservatory enrolled 43 seventh through twelfth grade students representing 27 different Houston area schools. Enrollment has grown substantially over subsequent seasons resulting in a 2006 enrollment of 258 fifth through twelfth grade students representing 101 area schools — an average enrollment growth rate of more than twenty percent. The 2006 AFA Summer Concert Series presented seventeen concerts to thousands of area music lovers and presented more American works and world premieres than any other Houston presenter.

1995-2006: Making Music Matter

“AFA believes that the arts play an essential role in the complete education and optimum, balanced development of an individual. The knowledge and experience gained from the study of the arts develop a person in many ways: mentally, spiritually and through building one’s confidence, concentration, self-respect and discipline. These traits are then transferred into all aspects of life. The American Festival for the Arts Summer Music Conservatory offers a unique haven for aspiring youth from diverse backgrounds and independent school districts to immerse themselves in a stimulating artistic environment with peers of similar interests. AFA concerts provide students with a supportive atmosphere in which to demonstrate their achievements and allow their families, teachers and members of the community to support their learning process. Through the Summer Music Conservatory and Concert Series, AFA directly enhances the cultural and educational lives of our youth and, in turn, their families, their friends, the local arts community, its concert audiences and the well being of our cultural future.”

– J. Todd Frazier, Founding Director

“You’ve probably noticed the slogan Making Music Matter that is the focus of AFA’s Conservatory and Concert season. This phrase represents what young musicians achieve every day at AFA. Eleven years ago, the idea of building a unique community of young musicians from throughout this region was only a dream. Now, as AFA moves into its second decade of safeguarding the arts in education in Houston and throughout Southeast Texas, that dream is a reality. AFA is committed to the full potential of our youth — not only as better musicians, but also as better citizens of our cultural communities. I invite you to join us and to continue Making Music Matter for thousands of Houston and Southeast Texas area youth."

– Michael Remson, Executive Director