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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

Meet The San Antonio Symphony's New Assistant Concertmaster

Each season, the San Antonio Symphony welcomes a handful of new musicians to its ranks…and this season, the orchestra welcomes a new assistant concertmaster. Violinist Sarah Silver is a Pittsburgh native whose father is a long time violist in the Pittsburgh Symphony. Her mother is a music teacher and orchestra director in the public school system. It’s not too surprising that Sarah ended up falling in love with music at a very young age.

“I had that seed planted from infancy,” she says. “I grew up listening to them playing and grew up with music. [But] for a long time, I didn’t want to go into music professionally – I wanted math and science, academia. And then I thought – what if I didn’t play the violin for a living? And I couldn’t handle it.”

Sarah comes to San Antonio most recently from Miami, where she was a violinist with the New World Symphony. She has also performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and was featured as New Artist of the Month by MusicalAmerica.com in September, 2013.

On community engagement with the New World Symphony:
One of the coolest things [we did was] at end of last season, we got together as part of a musical passport program with the city of Miami and they bused in 1000 second graders for two shows… for a lot of these kids, it was the first time they’d seen the instruments or heard the music. It was really cool to be that introduction to music for them.

On kids concerts:
I love the kids’ concerts here. I speak at them a lot…I like to talk with the kids. And the petting zoos are amazing. I’ve met so many other people just from that – the parents, adults, that [experience with their kids] brings them to other concerts. It’s cool to have it go all the way from the youth in the community all the way up.

On working with the New World Symphony:
All these varied concert formats – I didn’t know what to expect at first. As a classical violinist….it has been incredible to me and I think that’s the direction the orchestral world is heading. I think the New World Symphony is on the front edge of what it means to be a modern, successful orchestra. Their mini concerts I love. They’re affordable, fast…you go in, get music and information, then you’re back out, to go on about your day. It’s what started this kind of love of formatting for me – our First Encounters performance, the Discovery Concert. I went out to mingle with the audience, to see what they liked and didn’t. I met a couple of people who’re now friends…such  a way to get into the community from that musical perspective…that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. 

On her new job in San Antonio:
Gainful employment…it’s a really, really exciting feeling! We all work so hard and to have it pay off in terms of finally winning a position in a major symphony orchestra is really exciting!

What she’s looking forward to in San Antonio:
I think San Antonio is a great place for someone like me who loves to go out in the audience and talk to people and propose new ideas. I think the San Antonio Symphony is up and coming in the community, just like New World Symphony has been. We can do all these new and interesting things and it’ll work to grab more people, younger people…and make the symphony a centerpiece in the city. I’m really excited to be a part of it.

On what she learned at the New World Symphony:
Here at New World I think I’ve learned tons about the violin and musicianship and playing in an orchestra and technical musical things for my violin...but really what I’ve taken from this the most is getting to see the other side of things. This institution is unique – there are not a lot of boundaries between the administration and staff and fellows, and we all can get to know each other and learn what we do in each respective career, and that has been fun.

Moving forward, the industry is changing, the orchestral world is changing. You can’t just move forward being really great at your instrument. I want to be a more well-rounded musician, and an advocate of the arts.

Elena See started her radio career in Minnesota in 2001, working as part of the production team for Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. She moved to Maine and started working as the classical music director for Maine Public Broadcasting in 2003. Eventually, she headed south to Washington, DC for several years to try out satellite radio with Sirius XM joining Classical 24 in 2009.