San Antonio Symphony
The World Class San Antonio Symphony was created in 1939 by Max Reiter, a German-Italian immigrant, who became its first Music Director. The group’s early ambition is evidenced by the fact that the legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz was a guest artist during the first season. By 1943, the orchestra employed 75 professional musicians, and in the 1944–1945 season the organization’s budget topped $100,000, making it one of only 19 “major” orchestras in the country at that time, and the only one in Texas. Unlike many orchestras, the San Antonio Symphony was able to continue operations through World War II—largely because the city’s strong military presence helped bolster the local economy. Max Reiter had started an Opera Festival, created an Opera Chorus, and brought nationwide attention to the orchestra, with world premieres by several important composers, guest appearances by world-class artists, and overall high musical quality.
In 1969 the orchestra took up residence in the Theater for the Performing Arts (which would later be renamed the Lila Cockrell Theatre after a San Antonio mayor). In 1967 the orchestra made its first major-label recordings, for Mercury Records. The 1990s were highlighted by recognition and acclaim for the San Antonio Symphony’s creative and culturally diverse programming, culminating in awards by the National Endowment for the Arts(NEA), American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL), the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), and the Knight Foundation.
Sebastian Lang-Lessing became the orchestra’s eighth music director in 71 years in October 2010. The San Antonio Symphony’s primary performance venue is the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Antonio. It became the Symphony’s home in 2014. The organization is a member of the League of American Orchestras.
The San Antonio Symphony presents a large and diverse selection of music on its concert schedule. Many orchestral concerts feature performances by noted guest artists. The 2018–2019 artistic staff of the San Antonio Symphony consists of Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Assistant Conductor Noam Aviel, Mastersingers Conductor John Silantien, and 72 full-time musicians.