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

San Antonio Philharmonic details first half of its next season

The San Antonio Philharmonic orchestra plays on a stage at the First Baptist Church of San Antonio while attendees stand and sing.
Nathan Cone
A performance of the San Antonio Philharmonic honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in January.

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The San Antonio Philharmonic has announced its upcoming season, featuring a new round of guest conductors and soloists.

This is the Philharmonic’s second season since the dissolution of the former San Antonio Symphony, and it will continue to play at downtown’s First Baptist Church.

Philharmonic founder and bassoonist Brian Petkovich detailed some of the concerts, including opening night on Sept. 22.

“We're starting our first concert with Jeffrey Kahane, [a] fantastic pianist, fantastic conductor,” Petkovich said. “And so he'll be leading the orchestra with [Igor Stravinsky's] 'The Firebird,' and then Chee-Yun will be playing the violin in that first concert.”

Their October concert also features Noregwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth. Over a decade after her debut on EMI Records, female brass soloists are still rare in the classical music world. Helseth continues to blaze musical trails with her all-female ensemble tenThing, along with collaborations with musicians from other genres.

Helseth will perform the Armenian composer Alexander Arutiunian's 1950 trumpet concerto that's full of folk melodies from Eastern Europe and Russia. The up-and-coming Indian-American conductor Vinay Paramawearan leads the ensemble that weekend. He has also included a piece on the program by Indian-American composer Reena Esmail titled "Avartan."

In November, Conductor Stephen Mulligan conducts Antonin Dvorák’s "New World Symphony," as well as Mozart's overture to "The Magic Flute." 

The first weekend in December brings conductor Sarah Ioannides, with featured soloist Gabriela Martinez, playing Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2," famously featured in the tragically romantic classic film Brief Encounter.

Petkovich noted the Rachmaninoff piece is always a "big seller," but it's also worth noting that one of the most in-demand contemporary composers in the United States right now is also represented on the program. Black composer Jessie Montgomery's "Caught by the Wind" opens that show.

That takes the Philharmonic through 2023. It also continues the former San Antonio Symphony’s pre-Fiesta tradition of featuring mariachis and dancers performing along with the orchestra.

Interspersed throughout evening concert performances will be many daytime Young Peoples’ Concerts performed at schools throughout the area.

Earlier this spring, Petkovich told TPR the San Antonio Philharmonic is still working on building an endowment — a longtime need of the orchestra. He said its current home at First Baptist Church, while temporary, provides the orchestra with great acoustics, and that ticket sales have been "great."

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