An American Festival

My question in the last post (Who’s next?) has now been answered. Instead of a festival devoted to a particular composer the 2015 – 2016 San Antonio Symphony season will have a “Las Americas Festival”. The possibility of such a festival had crossed my mind but I ruled it out largely because of the steady exposure to new (mostly) American works we have enjoyed this season through the commissioned American Preludes performed as the first work at each concert of the 2014 – 2015 75th anniversary classical series.

Mike Greenberg has provided a helpful overview of the season highlights. He is particularly pleased we will have the world premiere of a cello concerto by Jeffrey Mumford. I wasn’t familiar with any of Mr. Mumford’s music, so I listened to a 90 minute representative sampling of his works released by Albany Records as TROY1473-74. While I’ve heard less accessible serious modern compositions, I’d have to say the most attractive parts of Mr. Mumford’s compositions are the titles. “In forests of evaporating dawns” is particularly evocative.

The season includes a brief nod to the 150th anniversary of Jean Sibelius’ birth but nothing by Carl Nielsen who shares the same year of birth. (By the way, Seattle is currently presenting a festival of all seven Sibelius symphonies.) Mr. Lang-Lessing has previously programmed Mahler symphonies for either the opening or closing concerts of the season. The Mahler 1st Symphony closes the 2015 – 2016 season. If I recall correctly Mr. Lang-Lessing played the same symphony in the concert that began his tenure as music director.

Richard Strauss’ opera Salome, performed in a fully staged production by Opera San Antonio, was a vital part of the recent Strauss Festival. I can’t think of any American operas the young opera company would be equipped to undertake. Philip Glass or John Adams seem out of the question. How about Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess? I don’t know how difficult it is to stage. It would fit in pretty well with the Festival and should be popular enough.

One personal complaint about the new season: There is no Bruckner symphony! It’s about time the symphony plays either the 5th or the 9th. The 8th would be wonderful, but maybe that’s asking too much. We can dream.


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