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The San Antonio Philharmonic debuts, with Ken-David Masur

Conductor Ken-David Masur
Beth Ross Buckley
Conductor Ken-David Masur

"No great city can exist without a great orchestra," says conductor Ken-David Masur. "It's really the sign that there is some extraordinary creativity and music and and life there."

Masur will be conducting the newly-established San Antonio Philharmonic, performing this Friday and Saturday at First Baptist Church in downtown San Antonio, in the shadow of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, where the same musicians once performed as the San Antonio Symphony. That organization was dissolved by its board of directors, who filed for bankruptcy in the process.

The concerts on September 16 and 17 mark a new beginning.

"This is such an extraordinary moment for San Antonio," Masur continues. "I couldn't be more thankful."

The program this weekend includes music by Sergei Prokofiev from "Romeo and Juiet," Maurice Ravel's "Bolero," and the "St. Anthony Variations" by Johannes Brahms. Masur says he sees thematic ties to the Brahms music and our city.

"The whole idea of the chorale of Saint Anthony is that it's variations on a joyful song, a song and a hymn that people would have sung as a pilgrimage to a place that they were looking forward to going, and that they really wanted to spend time at. And, you know, San Antonio, with its missions and its history, has a lot of that there... and now this is a musical manifestation of what that is, to celebrate the music, the musicians and the city of San Antonio."

There's also a world premiere on the program, from composer Ethan Wickman, called "Emergent," which was inspired by the COVID pandemic, but also works with the debut of a new orchestra as well, according to Masur.

"For him to complete the piece with this idea of the emergence of this new organization, the San Antonio Philharmonic, which we all know has such potential to be an extraordinary organization that is going to influence a generation, several generations of music lovers in the city. And so I'm thrilled that we can have this world premiere or be part of of this program."

September 16 & 17
7:30 p.m.
First Baptist Church of San Antonio
515 McCullough
Information and tickets at SAphil.org.

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Barry Brake is a composer, jazz and classical pianist who has been a part of San Antonio's music scene for decades. You can find his musings and musical exploits online here: http://barrybrake.com/