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Arts & Culture
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.

Symphony Musicians Get Intimate At Chamber Concerts

Sometimes even a beautiful new concert hall isn’t enough to bring ‘em in. What can you do? For some members of the San Antonio Symphony, the answer is to take the show to the people.

“The Tobin is of course an amazing venue, but there’s a lot of space between us and [the audience], and also maybe a little bit of intimidation that such a nice concert hall puts on the listener,” explains symphony cellist Ryan Murphy. “We can’t even see individual faces a lot of the time.”

That connection, both before, during and after the concert, is what a small group of musicians from the San Antonio Symphony is hoping to achieve at three concerts this month in smaller spaces, from church sanctuaries to a local distillery.

Violinist Aimee Toomes says the musician-led grass roots initiative will allow for plenty of face time with the audience. Symphony musicians will serve as ushers as well as performers. Associate Conductor Akiko Fujimoto will be there to lead a smaller symphony ensemble in a diverse program that includes music by Vivaldi, Mozart, Peter Warlock’s “Capriol Suite,” and a still-new piece of music by New York composer William Ryden called “Tango 5 1/2.”

Toomes is no stranger to audience engagement. She directs and organizes the "Ask A Musician" segment at all San Antonio Symphony concert performances. “At intermission they spend about ten minutes or so fielding questions, and meeting patrons face to face,” she explains. “We’ve been doing that for about five or so years, and in many ways, these concerts that we’re about to put on are an expansion of that.”

Both Murphy and Toomes say the goal of the concerts is to strengthen the bond with current and future San Antonio Symphony listeners. What better way than with great music, up close?

Two 7:30 p.m. concerts take place on Tuesday, May 10 at Woodland Baptist Church (15315 Huebner) and on Thursday, May 12 at Central Christian Church (720 N. Main). They are open to the public for a suggested $15 donation. On Thursday, May 19 concertmaster Eric Gratz hosts an 8 p.m. show at the Dorćol Distilling Company for a $10 cover. Follow the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony on Facebook for more happenings throughout the year.