Despite financial woes, the San Antonio Symphony carried on their concert season with a performance on Saturday, Jan. 13, and it was spectacular. The orchestra’s performance, dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr., was a powerful showcase of the talent of the musicians.
Before the concert began, several symphony board members addressed the crowd, stating that the organization supports moving forward in race relations; their condemnation of oppression set the tone for the rest of the concert.
After their exit, the lights in the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. A sole spotlight illuminated the front center stage. Veronica Williams, mezzo-soprano, strutted into the light. The audience was perfectly still, charged with anticipation.
Williams sang with a beautiful vibrato that rose and fell as she began her solo ballad. She sang with a blend of opera and soulful blues, her voice dripping with the emotion. When she finished, the audience erupted in a standing ovation.
As she took her leave, the symphony came out to replace Williams — a mixture of brass, woodwind, string and percussion players.
The next piece started out with a burst of jazz. It had an upbeat pace that made you want to move your entire body; I may have been obnoxiously bouncing the whole time. The brass players traveled through their notes with such ease and vigor, it was truly a pleasure to experience.
Soloists John Carroll on trumpet and Steve Peterson on trombone awed the crowd with their improvisation. The piece encompassed the electricity of jazz and celebrated the culture around it.
Williams joined the symphony for the next piece. The piece was noble, the kind of music that makes you feel like you need to punch a villain in the face. The strings travelled up and down their scales, and the brass played strong chords that made me feel as if I were in my own action film. All the while, there were epic bursts of percussion accentuating the downbeats.
The song transitioned rapidly through phases of intensity and moments of calm. In those still moments, Williams read Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Each time she read, the music grew more and more passionate to match her tone. She spoke of the oppression of the black community and the pain they experienced. It was a very appropriate and powerful piece in our current political climate.
After an intermission, the symphony switched from contemporary jazzy pieces to traditional Beethoven, and it rocked. The musicians were visibly excited as they played these fast-paced songs. I was truly blown away by the ability and talent of the performers. I think this second half of the concert was intended to show off the skill of the symphony, especially in light of the organization’s recent financial struggles.
“The musicians seemed very energetic during the piece and attacked the faster and more difficult parts with fierceness and ferocity,” said Ethan Jones, first-year music education major, when asked his thoughts on the performance.
The Symphony awed the crowd, proving not merely its relevance, but its vital importance to the San Antonio community. The show was a powerful testament on MLK Day, demonstrating San Antonio’s pride in its diversity. The San Antonio Symphony is an important and special part of San Antonio, and it would be a terrible loss to the city if it were unable to continue performances.
“It’s really important for me to be able to see professional musicians in action and just a fun way to spend a Saturday night. I think the San Antonio Symphony plays a huge role in the city’s culture,” said Ciara McDaniel, a sophomore music education major.
McDaniel was among almost 80 Trinity students in the music department who came to show their support for the symphony. I am glad I was able to see them, and I implore the city and the community to continue to support the San Antonio Symphony.