When Felicity Coltman founded it in 1981, the Austin Chamber Music Center's goal was simpler than it is today, yet still ambitious: to create a summer chamber-music workshop for teens. Since then, not only have many alumni gone on to become professional musicians, but the center has expanded into an outreach organization whose concerts and instruction brings chamber music to Austin ears, instruments, and hearts. Adults of similar skill levels gather into small chamber-music groups, whereas youngsters meet with instructors on weekends, during the summer, or in school. Just two years after its founding, the center sent students on two European voyages and hosted musicians from Salzburg, starting an international exchange program that continues today.
In 1988, a unique performance series took form with the center’s Intimate Concerts, which take place in private homes so that audiences can experience the music in a personal way and help their cats learn to read sheet music. Led by artistic director Michelle Schumann the center now holds year-round concerts for a variety of musical tastes, with all programs including live program notes.
After radiating do-re-mis through Carnegie Hall and China's 2010 World Expo, the Austin Civic Chorus of Chorus Austin embarks upon its 47th year of harmonious belting, energized by a placing among 10 finalists nationwide for the prestigious American Prize in 2011. To kick off the new season, the choir sings the poignant notes of Rossini's “Petite Messe Solennelle,” an 1863 composition that the composer dubbed, “the last of my sins of old age” in reference to his penchant for plagiarizing songbirds. As music director Ryan Heller conducts the tapestry of 130 voices with an experienced ear, two pianos and a harmonium hum along to the beat. Four soloists stand to flex their professional pipes and singing biceps, including soprano Mele Dailey, mezzo Kathryn Findlen, tenor Nicholas Simpson, and bass Bruce Cain.
Although symphonic concerts could be heard in San Antonio all the way back in the 1880s, the formation of the San Antonio Symphony—the city's first formal orchestra—didn't happen until 1939. It was then that Max Reiter, a native of Italy, was forced from his career and home by a freshly established anti-Semitic policy. Reiter boarded a ship for New York, found the city teeming with exiled musicians like himself, and therefore purchased a train ticket to the South. There, San Antonio's leaders invited Reiter to conduct a demonstration concert for a crowd of 2,500. The success of that initial impression led to the formal founding of the Symphony and an inaugural concert just five months later. Today, Sebastian Lang-Lessing stands where Reiter once stood, leading a full ensemble of 75 musicians with a baton hand honed across the globe.
Founded by cellist Kenneth Freudigman and violist Emily Watkins Freudigman in 2004, Camerata San Antonio brings together a symphonic roster composed of several of the San Antonio Symphony's principal players and more than a few internationally recognized musicians. More than a dozen acclaimed artists might be on-call for a concert during any given season, and the entourage's diverse concert schedule consequently offers plenty of strikingly different small-ensemble performances.
There are six orchestras in YOSA's orchestra program: the YOSA Prelude Strings, Capriccio Stings, Sinfonietta Strings, Symphony, Philharmonic, and Flute Choir. Although the Philharmonic draws in the most talented students in the region for professional-level concerts, all the orchestras guide students toward an enriched understanding of the world and the music within it. Together, they benefit more than 1,500 young people in the region—through direct involvement with the orchestra and through offshoot programs such as the free after-school instruction sessions on the west side.
ARTS San Antonio, a nonprofit organization, strives to bring a diverse, globally significant realm of performing arts to the children and grownups of the San Antonio community. Performances take place in venues throughout the city, ranging from the Lila Cockrell Theatre and the Majestic Theatre to the San Antonio River and El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel. Recent artists who've paid a visit to San Antonio through ARTS San Antonio include Anthony Bourdain, the Shaolin Warriors, William Shatner, and Mejia Ballet International.