The last weekend of the San Antonio Symphony's Dvořák Festival is coming, but to begin we look back at last weekend’s "Rusalka."
“I was really proud and really happy with the result, and I think our understanding of Dvořák really changed with this piece," said symphony Music Director Lang-Lessing. "We really learned about Dvořák.”
Headlining this weekend are Dvořák’s Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, but as Lang-Lessing explained, before playing them the symphony tackles a contemporary piece by American Jennifer Higdon.
After a week off, the San Antonio Symphony’s Dvořák Festival continues Friday, and it continues to stretch in different directions. This week's festival performance features the San Antonio Mastersingers, but as Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing describes, they won’t be in standard choral layout.
"A lot of the singing, especially from the ladies, will be offstage," he said. "So they are the offstage mermaids from underground."
The new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts is scheduled to open in September and will be the new home venue for the San Antonio Symphony, Ballet San Antonio and other arts companies. The high-tech performance venue is said to be one of the must-have parts of making the city world class in the arts. As Tobin Foundation Chair Bruce Bugg notes, the Tobin started with the voters.
"Bexar county voters overwhelmingly by a 65 percent vote supported the Bond Election," Bugg said.
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.
Many classical music organizations are participating in the city-wide Dvořák Festival, and the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio are doing so too. YOSA Music Director Troy Peters has the lowdown.
"We are working with the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio and also with musicians from the San Antonio Symphony" he explained. "So we’ll have a string orchestra of students and professionals playing together, playing the great Dvořák 'Serenade for Strings.' And then we’re also going to do a nice little set of choral music with the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio."
Next Friday the San Antonio Symphony’s month-long Dvořák Festival begins. An enthusiastic Maestro Sebastian Lang-Lessing describes Dvořák’s cello concerto as an outstanding one, and "probably also is the most popular cello concerto ever written."
For the Dvořák debut, the symphony is bringing back Chinese cellist Jian Wang.
"He’s looking forward to coming back to San Antonio this season, and we are looking forward to kick off the festival with him," Lang Lessing said.
It all starts with the spirited "Carnival Overture."
The San Antonio Symphony doesn’t do a lot of television specials, but once a year they collaborate with public television station KLRN to produce an hour-long program.
"[This year's show will] launch nicely our next festival, which will be a Dvorak Festival," said conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing by phone from Belgrade. "[We'll be] introducing Dvorak to the public. We’ve chosen this year the 'Carnival Overture' and a set of Slavonic dances, which really shows Dvorak from his folky side."