San Antonio Symphony Interim Director Michael Kaiser.
San Antonio Symphony Interim Director Michael Kaiser. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The subtitle of the original 1977 Star Wars movie, “A New Hope,” could not be more appropriate for the sentiments surrounding the San Antonio Symphony as it prepares for the 2018-2019 season’s opening weekend.

Michael Kaiser, the Symphony’s new interim executive director, is noted for having turned around several arts organizations, from the Opera House in London to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York. Now San Antonio has put its hopes for a sustainable Symphony in Kaiser’s hands.

Kaiser has said a key part of his job is to craft “a budget based on facts and not on wishes,” which has traditionally been a problem for the Symphony, renowned for its quality but also for having difficulty matching its expenses with donations, subscribers, and ticket sales.

Kaiser sat down with the Rivard Report during a rehearsal for a Sept. 6 community concert at Palo Alto College. In the auditorium nearby, Assistant Conductor Noam Aviel led the 50-member orchestra through Carmen Fantasy, a lighthearted composition by French composer François Borne featuring soloist Mark Teplitsky on flute.

Before a question-and-answer session with the orchestra, Kaiser spoke on many subjects, including the beauty of the orchestral experience, the many roles the Symphony plays in its community, the search for a permanent executive director who can lead the Symphony to sustainability, and the “the big E,” the endowment fund the organization hopes one day to raise.

Nicholas Frank

Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with an indie rock...