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In surprise move, San Antonio Symphony terminates Sebastian Lang-Lessing

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San Antonio Symphony management appear to have severed their relationship with Music Director Emeritus Sebastian Lang-Lessing.

In a statement to the public on Friday, board officers made the decision based on stipulations in his contract that they say he violated. They cited this one: “Artists shall neither make nor announce any appearances in San Antonio, Texas within 60 days prior to or following the performance dates of the concerts.”

The Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony—MOSAS–has been on strike since September 26th due to huge concessions in pay and benefits that management required they take in the new contract they were negotiating.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Arts & Culture News Desk including The Guillermo Nicolas & Jim Foster Art Fund, Patricia Pratchett, and the V.H. McNutt Memorial Foundation.

Since that date, MOSAS has played a number of concerts at the First Baptist Church not associated with symphony management. Lang-Lessing had agreed to direct a pair of those MOSAS concerts at the church on May 12th and 13th. His announcement about those concerts is what San Antonio Symphony Executive Director Corey Cowart says triggered their termination.

Lang-Lessing began a ten-year tenure as Music Director 2010, and left in 2020, becoming Music Director Emeritus. Each performance season, he returns to direct the symphony for at least a pair of performances. With this statement, that appears to end.

When asked to talk about the move by TPR, Cowart re-sent the original statement, and Lang-Lessing said he would have something to say in the coming days.

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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii