There are countless cultural events that are available for audiences to enjoy in the city of San Antonio. Venues can offer anything from country music to classical, which attracts an eclectic audience. This report focuses on the “Beethoven’s Eroica” performance which was part of the Tricentennial celebration of the founding of the city of San Antonio performed by the San Antonio Symphony. It was conducted by Sebastian Lang-Lessing and featured some great music, both classical and contemporary. The specific date this took place on was January 13, 2018 at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. It was a thrilling performance and was extremely enjoyable. The report will focus on the venue, specific selections from the program as well as the overall impressions the performance had on the writer.
The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts is one of the main arenas for cultural events such as the performance focused on in this report. Not only does it host the San Antonio Symphony, but it also is the chosen venue for other types of musical performance. The performance hall has a shape typical to other musical venues which allows for optimal sound. If one were to sit in the middle, to the side or in the back, the quality of the sound would remain the same. Additionally, the audience members were dressed in what could be termed as church attire or business dress; there was no denim or leather amongst their attire. The writer was dressed appropriately for the occasion as well since it was suggested by family members it would be wise to do so. There were drinks and small snacks available during the intermission which made it feel like an intimate cocktail party and some of the other audience members came up to the writer to discuss the performance thus far.
The overall performance was very educational. It began with an introduction of the conductor as well as some acknowledgements of some donors. Throughout the night each piece was introduced with some background information given on it as well as the individual composer. It was apparent that there was a great deal of research done to make the experience for the audience complete. There was a great deal that was learned during the evening and the writer was extremely glad to have the opportunity to attend the performance. As far as the reaction of the audience as a whole, the writer would have to say that everyone felt about the same way. During the intermission some conversations were overheard where some patrons already had a great deal of knowledge about the music that had been performed to the point of the intermission. This also held true listening to comments being made while exiting after the finale.
One of the selections that were performed during the evening was “Beethoven’s Eroica”. It was a very fast tempo piece that utilized every section of the orchestra. The beginning of the piece emphasized the strings as well as the woodwind sections, the middle of the selection drew in more use of the percussion, and the ending saw a pitch increase as well as more use of the percussion. The piece of music was very impressive to the writer because for being a deaf person Beethoven wrote some beautiful, complicated music. Complicated is used because when listening to the piece one can tell that there is a great deal of effort that is put into the composition of the music.
Another selection that was included in the program was “New Morning for the World” by Joseph Schwantner. This piece was the highlight of the evening for the writer because it sounded very similar to one of their favorite composers, Igor Stravinsky. This piece resembles “The Rite of Spring”, although Schwantner uses more percussion earlier on in his music. It is a thrilling selection of music that stirs emotions that are almost primal in nature. As an American composer, Schwantner holds a number of national awards and is still actively composing works for orchestra as well as other types of venues. This particular work is symbolic of freedom which is part of the celebration the performance is commemorating.
The last selection that will be discussed in this report is “The Three Black Kings” by Duke Ellington. This is a happy, playful tune which begins as a type of traveling sequence (it sounds like a train on the tracks). It then progresses to an inner city type of tune, and then to a Jazz type of show. The performance ends with a type of flashy Broadway style show tune which left the audience members feeling happy and light-hearted after the last note was played. The tempo switched between fast and slow, which made for a good performance.
In conclusion, the writer would have to describe their experience at this performance as a positive one. Aside from having to dress up to attend the symphony, it was a very educational experience. The music selections were outstanding, and the venue was very nice. It was also good to be able to socialize with the other audience members during intermission and learn something from the more experienced ticket holders. If asked to attend another event similar to this one, the answer would be yes. It was a well-spent evening and it reinforced what the students had been learning in class. Additionally, it is also a good experience culturally as well as socially.