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.
ARTS San Antonio brings cultural magic from around the country to South Texas. Chicago?s Joffrey Ballet, Cuba?s Arturo Sandoval, and New York?s Spanish Harlem Orchestra have all been presented by ARTS SA to enrich the community.
Ballet San Antonio, resident ballet company of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, has been a part of the city's cultural landscape since 1985. Since 2012, the company has undergone a tremendous creative metamorphosis. Artistic Director Gabriel Zertuche not only began choreographing new works for the company, he also expanded the repertoire to include grand, full-length ballets such as Cinderella, Dracula, and The Firebird. A new partnership with the George Balanchine Trust gave Ballet San Antonio the rights to the legendary choreographer's Donizetti Variations, and an expanded collaboration with the San Antonio Symphony brings the rich sound of a full orchestra to multiple season productions.