It starts with one plaintive note, played by San Antonio Symphony Concertmaster Eric Gratz on screen. Others join in as the camera draws back to reveal 37 musicians of the San Antonio Symphony, each in their own individual frame, working together to create a virtual orchestra.
The emotional video of symphony musicians performing the “Nimrod” theme from British composer Edward Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations was posted to YouTube on March 31 has nearly 4,000 views and counting.
Steve Peterson, Principal Trombone of the San Antonio Symphony, planned and edited the video. In an email interview, he explained that he chose Elgar’s music because it’s not only “beautiful and moving,” but because “the piece does not rely too heavily on extended solos; each instrument seems to contribute an equal amount.”
The video was created with each musician recording their individual performances on a smart phone, using a metronome for timing. Peterson used an audio editor to add a little reverb, and what he called “slight pushes and pulls where the music calls for it.”
The San Antonio Symphony, like all performing arts organizations in South Texas, isn’t performing live onstage. Seven of the San Antonio Symphony’s Classics programs and all remaining Pops concerts were canceled in mid-March when the city shut down to help stop the spread of COVID-19. So, sharing their gifts through the internet seems like the next best thing.
Some musicians continue to teach remotely. Others are keeping up with practice. Peterson said for him, “It is helpful for me to remain busy by working on my own personal music and video projects in addition to these new symphony videos. This is a strange time, and like many others, I am doing my best to remain positive.”
In addition to directly donating to the San Antonio Symphony, music fans can help the organization by donating unused tickets instead of asking for a refund for canceled shows. “This act of generosity will help the symphony immensely,” Peterson said.
In the meantime, there is the video (shown below), and hopefully more are on the way.
“Even though the editing process can be frustrating,” Peterson said of this one, “I had many moments where everything aligned, and I got goosebumps and my eyes started to well. These are the type of moments that drew me to music in the first place.”