S.A. Symphony selects a new music director with video of the audition)

here is a video link to the actual concert which resulted in the selection of SSL as MD of San Antonio Symphony.


Web Posted: 02/16/2010 12:00 CST

S.A. Symphony selects a new music director


Jerry Lara/Express-News

Sebastian Lang-Lessing is the new music director of the San Antonio Symphony.

By David Hendricks – Express-News

The story of the San Antonio Symphony’s new music director begins with a clandestine, three-day work session in a hotel room overlooking New York’s Carnegie Hall.

A conductor had flown in from Berlin. San Antonio Symphony President and CEO Jack Fishman joined him in New York over the New Year’s Day weekend. There, they and others planned nearly all of the symphony’s 2010-11 concert season. They worked virtually around the clock, stopping only to eat, usually at the Carnegie Deli.

A contract with the new conductor had not been signed at the time. That wouldn’t take long.

The San Antonio Symphony will announce today that German conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing will become the 70-year-old organization’s eighth music director, bringing a three-year search to an end.

Lang-Lessing, 44, will be introduced at 10:30 a.m. today in a short concert from the Municipal Auditorium stage. The auditorium is scheduled to become the symphony’s permanent home starting in 2013, when it will be transformed into the new, county-run Bexar County Performing Arts Center. The free concert is open to the public.

Lang-Lessing’s initial four-season contract becomes effective with an Oct. 2 special concert featuring Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony. In all, he will direct 10 concerts during the 2010-11 season, including another one-night-only special concert Jan. 12 presenting piano superstar Lang Lang, who will perform in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

“It’s my program,” Lang-Lessing said of the 2010-11 season. “I have absolute responsibility for every single detail. We worked as a team, which I appreciate. I’ve never planned a season like this in such density, which I found very creative.”

The globetrotting Lang-Lessing is music director for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in Australia, a post he will leave at the end of 2011, he said in an interview Monday.

Lang-Lessing conducted the San Antonio Symphony in May and November 2009 during the audition period. He was selected by a nine-member search committee, which included four musicians, headed by symphony board Chairman Dennert Ware.

The search started after the symphony executive committee in 2006 decided not to renew the contract of Larry Rachleff, stating publicly its desire for a conductor who could devote more time to San Antonio. Rachleff, who is on the Rice University faculty, lives in Houston and also is music director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Chicago Philharmonic.

Lang-Lessing said San Antonio already is his primary responsibility.

“I don’t want a slow start,” he said. “If I said I could do only four concerts (the first season), I would waste my time conducting other orchestras when my presence here is needed. In the first year, you have to set a certain standard and a certain way of working. In the first year, you can do the most dramatic things. If you don’t insist on it, it will be harder in the following seasons.”

Jeff Garza, the symphony’s principal horn player, said he was the search committee member who recommended Lang-Lessing as a contender because they had worked together at the Houston Grand Opera, where Lang-Lessing made his U.S. debut in 1997.

“I was amazed at the sound he was able to create. He was literally the first name that popped into my head when I was recruited to be on the committee,” Garza said.


About this entry