March 15, 2015
The San Antonio Symphony’s 2015-16 season, details of which were revealed to media early on March 15, is the most venturesome we’ve seen since the 1990s.
For its annual thematic festival, the orchestra departs from its past concentration on single composers to explore “Las Americas” in four classical pairs in January and February. The festival programs include the world premiere of a cello concerto by Jeffrey Mumford, one of America’s most intriguing exponents of the Modernist tradition. The soloist is Christine Lamprea, a San Antonian now based in New York and, to judge from a recital here in 2013, a very exciting musician. The festival also includes works by Astor Piazzolla (Argentina), Arturo Marquez (Mexico) and Daniel Catán (Mexico), but most of the composers were born in the USA — Leonard Bernstein, William Schuman, Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, George Gershwin and Duke Ellington, who will be represented by his groundbreaking “Harlem” and “Isfahan.” Three of the festival programs will be conducted by music director Sebastian Lang-Lessing.
Mr. Mumford is not the only living American composer on the season. Stewart Copeland, who first gained fame as the drummer for the rock band The Police, is represented by his bracing “Gamelan D’Drum,” a brief work that was given its world premiere by the Dallas Symphony in 2011. It shares a mid-November program with Maurice Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloe,” conducted by Mr. Lang-Lessing.
The living German composer Detlev Glanert, a favorite of Mr. Lang-Lessing’s, has Three American Preludes sandwiched between Johannes Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (Peter Serkin, returning after a long absence) and Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 on a March 2016 program conducted by Mr. Lang-Lessing.
The classical subscription season opens Sept. 18 and 19 with Arnold Schoenberg’s brief but harrowing “A Survivor from Warsaw” followed by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, conducted by Mr. Lang-Lessing.
Other notable works: Haydn’s oratorio “The Creation” occupies the whole program on April 1 and 2, 2016, conducted by Mr. Lang-Lessing. Tchaikovsky’s bold “Manfred” Symphony shares a program with Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Olga Kern), March 25 and 26, 2016, conducted by Mr. Lang-Lessing. The season closes June 3 and 4, 2016, with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (Augustin Hadelich) and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, conducted by Mr. Lang-Lessing.
Guest conductors include the Canadian Jacques Lacombe, music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; the German Gabriel Feltz, who leads the opera company and the symphony orchestra of Dortmund; and the American Karina Canellakis, the Dallas Symphony assistant conductor who has earned lavish praise from critics. One conducting slot (the festival concert holding Mr. Mumford’s concerto) is yet to be filled.
The cellist Yo-Yo Ma returns to town for gala concert with the orchestra on Oct. 16. Program details have not been announced.
All concerts will be presented in the H-E-B Performance Hall of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The hall opened last September, and after several months of tinkering with the concert configuration the acoustics have turned out to be first-class — though the specific characteristics of the sound differ markedly in different parts of the hall.
Season ticket renewals are on sale now for current subscribers. Others may call the Tobin Center box office, (210) 223-8624, for subscription information, Single tickets will go on sale in August at the Tobin Center box office. Mike Greenberg