San Antonio Symphony | Texas Public Radio

San Antonio Symphony

Nathan Cone

This Saturday night, the San Antonio Symphony and the US Air Force Band of the West team up to present their tenth annual Salute to Armed Forces concert at Laurie Auditorium.

Conducting the orchestra will be the San Antonio Symphony’s Akiko Fujimoto, and the program includes patriotic music by Aaron Copland, John Willams, and George M. Cohan. Fujimoto says the added touch of 13 brass players from the Air Force is a boon to the orchestra’s sound.

San Antonio Symphony

The San Antonio Symphony celebrates 75 years this season, and they are definitely celebrating in style. After a combined debut earlier this month with Ballet San Antonio and the Opera San Antonio, the symphony takes up residence at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts on September 20. That night, super star soprano Renee Fleming will join the orchestra and music director Sebastian Lang-Lessing for an evening of incredible music making. The season officially starts on October 10 with a performance of Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 2.”

Jack Morgan / TPR Arts

Sebastian Lang-Lessing is gearing up for Thursday night’s opening of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Thursday I was at the last Ballet San Antonio rehearsal before the move into the Tobin and Lang-Lessing had acoustics on his mind.  

“There are two aspects to acoustics: There is the one, hearing on stage, but then there is the more important issue, how is the listening experience for the audience," he said. "And there are a lot of halls that are difficult onstage and wonderful in the hall. And there are other halls that are great onstage and bad in the hall.”

San Antonio Symphony

The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts opens on September 4, and San Antonio Symphony Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing described the new home for the symphony.

“I have to say it’s very chic. And it’s very stylish and modern, and yet amazingly intimate,” he said.

Lang-Lessing has been involved in the development in the Tobin for years. He said he thinks the Tobin will be the place for performing arts in the city, but he wanted to make this important distinction.

San Antonio Mastersingers

It’s not "The Voice" or "American Idol," but there are some vocal tryouts coming soon. No, you can’t expect to be dissed by tattoo’d rock stars, but you just might get to travel internationally if you pass the audition.

“We are looking for all kinds of singers, all kinds of voice parts," said Chancey Blackburn, the vice-chair of the San Antonio Mastersingers. "The chorus is made up of singers who have been masters of music performance, all the way to singers like me, with no formal training.”

I asked her what someone who is thinking of coming to try out can expect.

Each season, the San Antonio Symphony welcomes a handful of new musicians to its ranks…and this season, the orchestra welcomes a new assistant concertmaster. Violinist Sarah Silver is a Pittsburgh native whose father is a long time violist in the Pittsburgh Symphony. Her mother is a music teacher and orchestra director in the public school system. It’s not too surprising that Sarah ended up falling in love with music at a very young age.

On Tuesday, August 19, you’re invited downtown to a special pop-up performance featuring members of the San Antonio Symphony. As part of the city’s Downtown Tuesday initiative (offering free parking at area garages, special events, and restaurant deals), the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts will offer a special preview of their new performance space.

Esther Erbe

I've been doing a series with San Antonio Symphony musicians and how they are spending their summer vacations. Meet Nicholas Browne, who is one of the symphony’s newer members.

“In January I won the audition for the symphony, and in February I moved down to San Antonio and started the job,” he said.

The Pittsburgh native loves the city, the symphony, and his instrument, which is double bass.  

“It’s a difficult instrument,” he said.

I asked him to explain to people what a double bass is.

Steve Zeserman

If you ever see a list of people who are perpetually dissatisfied or unenthusiastic, here’s a name you won’t find there.

“My name’s Steve Zeserman and I play double bass in the San Antonio Symphony.”

His optimism is palpable, and you can hear it when he talks about anything. From his days in college at the Curtis Institute of Music:

“I guess it was similar to eating caviar every day for four years, the richness of the culture,” he said.

To landing his job with the San Antonio Symphony:

Janet Toomes

The San Antonio Symphony’s season is done and won’t start until September. So what are all those musicians doing with their time?  I found out at least one of them isn't exactly kicking back for the summer. Aimee Toomes, who plays violin in the symphony, was one of those kids who picked up an instrument early.

“I started playing violin when I was a fourth grader in public school, and 20 something years later I’m a violinist with the San Antonio Symphony,” she said.

She’s no slouch when it comes to how she learned her trade.

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