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2024 Top 20 Impact Makers Honorees

Libi Lebel

2024 Top 20 Inspiring Woman Impact Maker Award

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Awards Presentation

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Four Seasons Hotel Houston

“What inspires me is to make music come alive. It affords us an opportunity to connect to the very essence of our humanity, allowing us to come into contact with that part of ourselves which expresses our most profound creativity.” – Libi Lebel 

Libi Lebel is an inspiring conductor known for infusing orchestras with energy, enthusiasm, and high-level music-making, galvanizing audiences and communities alike. As a passionate musician, she is devoted to harnessing the power of music to uplift spirits, foster unity, and bring healing to the community, ultimately leaving the world a better place.

Libi is the founder, conductor, and artistic director of the Texas Medical Center Orchestra (TMCO). Energetic, charismatic, rigorous, and inspiring, she has been instrumental in the orchestra's remarkable success over nearly a quarter of a century. Since TMCO’s founding in 2000 (then known as the Doctors Orchestra of Houston), she has prided herself not only on the group’s award-winning musical excellence but also on making the orchestra experience fun and accessible to musicians and audiences alike. Libi takes immense pride in witnessing the joy her orchestra members experience while playing. "They arrive at rehearsal exhausted from a long day of surgery, caring for a ward of pediatric patients, or carrying out life-saving medical research," she reflects. "Yet, when they pick up their instruments and play, I see the passion in their eyes—the passion they have for creating beautiful music. My role is to nurture that passion and bring out their best!"

Libi is deeply committed to fostering collaborations and highlighting Houston-area artists and community groups, frequently exploring the interplay of music, visual arts, dance, and public outreach. Under her leadership, the orchestra has engaged in collaborations with numerous choirs, instrumental soloists, mariachi ensembles, a sitar/tabla duo, a pipa virtuoso from China, percussion ensembles, dancers representing a variety of styles, actors, artists, and the great children’s storyteller, Barbara Bush.

In 2010, following her father’s diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, Libi helped establish the Gran Fondo Texas charity bike ride to benefit both the Multiple Sclerosis Society and TMCO. Since its inception, the ride has served over 14,000 riders and significant funds have been raised to fight multiple sclerosis and support the orchestra operations. Linking the two organizations has had tremendous impact on both communities, a source of immense pride for Maestra Lebel.

Similarly, the orchestra has made contributions on an even larger scale. During the COVID-19 pandemic, TMCO gained international recognition with a memorable virtual fundraiser. In collaboration with Grammy award-winning songwriter Diane Warren, the orchestra performed her song I’m Standing with You. The resulting video (released on YouTube) was brilliantly engineered from recordings of each TMCO and world-wide artists’ parts performed at home. I’m Standing with You garnered international praise and raised over $7 million for the United Nations COVID-19 fund.

Following a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall in 2014, Libi brought TMCO to a new level of national prominence in 2016. That year, TMCO won The American Prize, and placed first in the Orchestral Performance, Community Orchestra division. Since then, her orchestra has consistently been recognized as one of the best community orchestras in the country, placing first, second, or third each year. In 2022, TMCO was honored as the Best Community Orchestra by the Houston Press, further solidifying its reputation as a beacon of musical excellence and community engagement under Libi's leadership.

Libi holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from The Juilliard School.  She also holds a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Westminster Choir College, conducting the Princeton University Sinfonia Orchestra from 1999 to 2000. She has appeared as guest conductor with various orchestral and choral ensembles including Westminster Community Orchestra, Garden State Philharmonic Chorus, Brazosport Symphony Orchestra, Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Congress Orchestra, Bacau Symphony Orchestra and Socrates Symphony Orchestra. In July 2023, Libi made her European conducting debut with the National Symphony Orchestra Teleradio-Moldova, a performance broadcast live to 70 countries.

Libi is a well-recognized figure in the Houston community, celebrated for her contributions to both the art scene and the medical community. Driven by her strong belief in the healing and transformative powers of music, she is committed to making music accessible to audiences of all ages. Through her dynamic presence on the podium, her innovative programming and tireless advocacy for music and medicine, she has played a pivotal role in reshaping the arts landscape in Houston. As a testament to her impact, she has received the Houston YWCA Outstanding Woman of the Arts award and earned a spot among Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women according to Houston Woman Magazine

In June 2023, Libi participated in the International Orchestra's Conductor Competition held in Ploiesti, Romania. Out of a field of 170 entries, only 74, including Maestra Lebel, were invited to participate. Of the eighteen semi-finalists, Libi was the third prize winner and the recipient of the special prize for “Best Woman Conductor.” This achievement not only included a monetary prize but also an invitation to conduct the Ploiesti Philharmonic orchestra in three future concerts. Furthermore, this recognition sparked an invitation to join the Eva Artistic Management Group, offering her the opportunity to share her passion with orchestras worldwide.

Libi feels blessed to have been able to share her passion for music with the Houston community while running a traditional household and raising her three children. Despite all the challenges she has been faced with, her love for working with people has kept her motivated and excited all these years.

It is for all the reasons mentioned above, and many more, that Maestra Libi Lebel has been named a Top 20 Inspiring Woman Impact Maker for 2024.  

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