The group of musicians who formed a new orchestra in the wake of the San Antonio Symphony’s dissolution announced Wednesday a new name and a new season of 10 classical and three pops concert programs.

The San Antonio Philharmonic is the new incarnation of the MOSAS Performance Fund, the nonprofit formed by musicians and donors after the San Antonio Symphony’s musicians went on strike last fall. It will feature 60 to 70 professional musicians performing in concerts beginning this fall.

Brian Petkovich, the former San Antonio Symphony assistant principal bassoonist, spearheaded the formation of the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony (MOSAS) during the strike, and serves as president of the Philharmonic.

“Our musicians, who hail from around the world and now call San Antonio home, are determined to instill in our neighbors the excitement of great music, to move audiences emotionally during a time of disruption and change,” he stated in a press release. “This is an historic opportunity to do something special and lasting, and we invite everyone to be part of continuing this cultural legacy for San Antonio.”

Earlier this year, Petkovich was instrumental in organizing a series of public concerts by MOSAS, along with four other of the orchestra’s musicians: Peter Rubins, James Seymour, Karen Stiles and Stephanie Westney. The group put together a series of eight concerts in April, May and June at the First Baptist Church of San Antonio near downtown. Rubins, Stiles and Westney sit on the Philharmonic’s board, along with Petkovich and others.

The SA Phil, as the group also will be known, will perform at First Baptist and be led by conductors such as Sebastian Lang-Lessing, the former music director emeritus of the SA Symphony; Ken-David Masur; and Christopher Wilkins, who like Lang-Lessing was music director emeritus of the Symphony.

The Philharmonic’s debut will be Sept. 16 and 17, when the orchestra performs Ravel’s Bolero and selections from Prokofiev’s ballet suite Romeo and Juliet under the direction of Masur. For the full season calender, click here.

The new orchestra is being funded largely by “individual donations,” according to the press release. Earlier this year, the San Antonio Symphony League, an all-volunteer nonprofit founded in 1950 to support the Symphony, gave a $100,000 grant to MOSAS. The press release noted the Philharmonic also was seeking corporate donations, which will be “essential to the endeavor’s continued success.”

In its announcement Wednesday, the Philharmonic pledged to “embrace the community and share a sense of belonging and connection.”

“Our programming and outreach will honor the history, diversity, and culture of our city,” Petkovich said in the press release. “We are seeking ways to involve new audiences in the transformative power of music by partnering with organizations around the city.” 

Along with its 13-program season, the Philharmonic said it will perform 36 free Young People’s Concerts for local elementary schools at nine local high school auditoriums, carrying on a traditional educational function formerly carried out by the Symphony.  

On June 16, the Symphony Society of San Antonio board of directors abruptly dissolved the orchestra and declared bankruptcy after 83 years in existence and decades of financial instability. The move followed a breakdown in negotiations with the symphony’s musicians, who went on strike in September 2021, prompting the eventual cancellation of the organization’s 2021-22 season.

In declaring bankruptcy, the board cited the withdrawal from negotiations of the musicians’ union in April amid musicians’ demands for “a budget that is millions of dollars in excess of what the Symphony can afford.”

Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony walk in a silent picket line outside the home of Symphony Society of San Antonio board chair Kathleen Weir Vale on Thursday.
Musicians form a silent picket line outside the home of Symphony Society of San Antonio board chair Kathleen Weir Vale in December. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

The announcement of the Philharmonic’s concert season signaled a decision to move forward with a symphonic music organization without the support or involvement of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, which lost its main tenant with the dissolution of the Symphony. The Tobin Center was purpose-built in 2014 as a permanent home for the Symphony with significant public and private investment.

“I’ve not reached out to them and they haven’t reached out to me,” Petkovich told the San Antonio Report of the Tobin’s leadership, “but that doesn’t mean we can’t find a partnership going forward.”

Tickets for individual concerts start at $30 and season ticket packages are available. For additional information, click here.

Wendy Lane Cook is the managing editor at the San Antonio Report. Contact her at wendy@sareport.org.