As you likely know, the city-wide Dvořák Festival finds several classical music assets doing live concerts of the composer’s music. The yearly one-composer focus was begun by the San Antonio Symphony, and this is its fourth year.
"This week is the only week where we have two different programs on Friday and Saturday so you have to come twice this weekend if you want to hear the entire Dvořák cycle," said Symphony Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing.
Acclaimed soloist Michel Dalberto performs with the symphony first.
"We will present on Friday the 'Piano Concerto (in G minor),' which is really very rarely played, and I really don’t know why because it is a magnificent concerto" Lang-Lessing said. "And the 'Symphony No. 6,' also one of the pieces that is not played as often as the last three symphonies, but definitely a gem in the symphonic literature."
Next is violinist and former San Antonian Nancy Zhou, of whom Lang-Lessing speaks highly.
"On Saturday we present the 'Violin Concerto (Op. 53)' and the '7th Symphony.' It’s going to be another very exciting weekend," he said.
Dvořák lived in New York for a time and felt that Native American and Black music would eventually emerge and play a major role in the American musical identity. So according to Lang-Lessing, the symphony will play selections from the "Afro-American Symphony," written by William Grant Still.
"I think this African-American symphony would have really have pleased Dvořák and given him a lot of hope that there’s a bright future. Wonderful, wonderful piece," Lang-Lessing said.
I asked him if this were stretching the symphony in slightly different directions than they’re used to.
"Yes, yes, I think there is a gap in their repertoire in general when it comes to music like this," Lang-Lessing said.
- Find more about Friday and Saturday night’s Dvořák Festival performances at: www.sasymphony.org