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

San Antonio Philharmonic makes deal to save Symphony archives, recordings and instruments

the old San Antonio Symphony and Sebastian Lang-Lessing at First Baptist Church
Jack Morgan
the old San Antonio Symphony and Sebastian Lang-Lessing at First Baptist Church

The San Antonio Philharmonic announced on Tuesday that it made a deal to secure the assets of the San Antonio Symphony.

Philharmonic President and Bassoonist Brian Petkovich said the announcement would fill many of its fans with relief. His own emotions were clear.

“I'm just happy today!” he laughed. “I'm going to have to go through and see what's there. But it's exciting to see what that history is.”

When the San Antonio Symphony filed for bankruptcy last June, all the symphony’s assets were seized so that they wouldn’t disappear.

“Basically, they've just been in behind locked doors," Petkovich explained, "for the last three months.”

But there was a danger that they wouldn't be secure there forever. They could've been auctioned off.

“Had things gone to auction, they could have gone anywhere," he said. "And that's why I was really glad that we could make an offer that was accepted, and we could keep everything together here in San Antonio.”

He declined to say what that offer was. But he described what he found behind those locked doors. “That includes the music library, the instruments, some of the historical archives and the audio recordings,” he said.

Most symphony musicians have their own instruments, but the ones the symphony possessed were extraordinary.

“There's a lot of percussion instruments — bass drum, tympani — and there's kind of unique instruments as well, like a wind machine and an alto flute, and a contra bassoon,” Petkovich said.

Perhaps even more valuable is the rich performance archive. “Basically everything that the symphony has recorded over the years," he added. "At least for the past ten years or so, it seems like we've been recording most of the concerts.”

Petkovich added that there was a very real chance that it will be heard once again. “If we have the right agreements in place, that becomes very easy. We're still working on that,” he said.

For the moment there’s much relief and happiness. But now, the real work begins.

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.

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