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Symphony Conductor's Virtual Masterclass Aims To Support Students, Artists

Courtesy photo
Sebastian Lang-Lessing created Virtual Masterclass for students online.

When orchestras went silent around the country in March, guest artists and soloists who had been scheduled to appear with ensembles like our own San Antonio Symphony found themselves with time and talent to offer, but few outlets. The canceled concerts also meant a loss of income for these musicians, many of whom aren’t part of larger ensembles that could apply for government assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.

The San Antonio Symphony’s Music Director, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, saw a need to connect his colleagues with eager ears that could listen, and learn. Very quickly, he worked with web developers to create the Virtual Masterclass platform.

Potential students can access these talented musicians for one-on-one coaching, and even upload their videos prior to lessons for commentary and specialized instruction.

The lessons can be pricey, but Lang-Lessing advises students to consider the level of instruction you’re getting, and also offers a comparison.

“A musician’s time is very valuable. And there is the common sense that you’re totally fine to pay two hundred dollars to a plumber coming and fixing your sink. But people should also be willing to honor what musicians as teachers put into a lesson, (and) the educator’s experience, and background.”

Nevertheless, for students that may need financial assistance, there are options, Lang-Lessing says. “We have donors who are deprived from donating right now in a certain way! They would support… one of their favorite artists who appeared with the San Antonio Symphony.”

Lang-Lessing offers these final words for anyone considering sponsoring a talented student’s lessons through Virtual Masterclass: “You would really support an artist who doesn’t have income right now, but you would also, at the same time, give a student a really valuable education. And anybody who made a career in music knows one thing—the most important factor for your success as a musician, is the right teachers.”

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