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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world. To listen to KPAC 88.3 FM, simply open the player in the gray ribbon at the top of this page and choose KPAC: Classical Music.

San Antonio Symphony Jazzes Things Up

San Antonio Symphony
Sebastian Lang-Lessing

The San Antonio Symphony's Las Americas Festival kicks off Friday night with its Rhapsody in Blue concert. Las Americas celebrates composers from the Americas, as well as compositions created here by composers from elsewhere. 

Sebastian Lang-Lessing talka about what makes up the performances.

"The Las Americas Festival I wanted to start with something that I consider the essence of American music, and that is Jazz, and how it transformed what the American sound is."  

Lang-Lessing has a huge appreciation for the subjects of this concert: Gershwin, Strayhorn, and one other looming figure.

"You can't play jazz if you don't play the King. If you don't play Duke Ellington, it's not jazz!"

He says symphonic adaptations to Ellington's music really give it something special.

"The richness of the orchestra really adds to the jazz. It adds a huge, powerful sound."

Weirdly, Lang-Lessing says there's a San Antonio Spurs connection to this concert.

"We have as a soloist in that program Vincent Balse, who happens to be Tony Parker's best buddy, actually childhood friend," he said. "We met Vincent when the San Antonio Symphony played for Tony Parker's wedding and Vincent conducted the orchestra and played with them ... and for me it was a logical move to invite him back and play the Rhapsody."

This concert will be simulcast outside the Tobin too.

"We have this free event, sponsored by H-E-B, so people can come and enjoy it on this huge screen in the plaza in front of the Tobin, and have a drink."

The free simulcast is Friday night only, though Rhapsody will be performed Friday and Saturday at the Tobin Center. 

For more on the Rhapsody in Blue concert go here

For more on the San Antonio Symphony go here